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New Year’s budget resolution? Try zero-sum budgeting

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If your goal is to make 2017, a better financial year, try Zero-Sum Budgeting, a simple idea that can bring big results.

According to FamilyFinancier.com, Zero-Sum Budgeting revolves around two main ideas: Budgeting to zero and paying for next month’s expenses with this month’s income.

What is budgeting to zero?

Budgeting to zero means spending every single dollar on a specific goal.

You could have goals like paying a bill, savings toward a holiday or adding to an investment.

Over time you can identify overspending in one or multiple categories and make adjustments. Slowly you can create a reliable growth in savings.

How to Pay for Next Month’s Expenses Today

The second main goal for the zero-sum method is to pay for the month ahead with the current month’s income. This allows for two benefits:
* No issues paying bills on time
* Safety net of at least one month’s income in case of emergency

Accomplishing these two goals would put someone far ahead of the average American. According to a recent Federal Reserve survey, 46 percent of Americans said that they would have to borrow or sell something to pay for a $400 emergency.

Given this reality, paying bills a month ahead can take time unless a person already has savings. Once accomplished, this goal can provide substantial financial security and peace of mind.

Tips for Implementing the Zero-sum Budget

Start with your monthly bank statement in hand. Make a list of spending categories. Assign expenditures to one of these categories. This helps you see what you actually spend and where.

Now, decide where you can cut spending and where you can add spending, to suit goals such as paying off bills. Make sure every single dollar you bring in has a ‘home’ in your budget.

A few recommendations for someone trying this, or any other, budgeting method:
* Use an app, tool, or spreadsheet to help stay organized and accurate. This makes the process so much easier.
* Find an accountability partner.
* If overspending is a problem, roll with the punches and work to get back on track.

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5 great reasons to become a plumber

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Plumbing may not seem like a glamorous job, but it’s one that offers many advantages. Here are five great reasons you may want to become a plumber.

1. You’ll always have work. No matter how the local economy fares, plumbers will always be needed. Job security is exceedingly high for these professionals.

2. You’ll get paid while you learn. Attending trade school is shorter and less expensive than getting a university degree. Plus, part of your training will include completing a paid apprenticeship.

3. You’ll have lots of opportunities. There’s more to plumbing than fixing toilets. Plumbers are needed every day to work in residential, commercial and industrial settings. They do everything from designing and installing new plumbing systems to laying pipes and fixing gas lines.

4. You’ll make good money. Like many tradespeople, plumbers are well paid. You won’t make a fortune as an apprentice, but you can expect your salary to increase every year, especially if you become a master plumber.

5. You can work for yourself. Do you find the idea of working for someone else disagreeable? Many plumbers decide to become contractors or to start their own business.

If you love to work with your hands and don’t want to be stuck behind a desk all day, plumbing may be the perfect career for you.

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Essential qualities every plumber needs

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Are you looking for an interesting career that doesn’t involve sitting behind a desk? If so, plumbing may be right for you. This trade provides job security and the opportunity to do something different every day. However, not everyone can become a plumber. Here are a few qualities needed to successfully practice this profession.

Strength
Plumbers need to be able to access awkward spaces, lift heavy objects and spend many consecutive hours on their feet. You don’t need to be a pro athlete to be a plumber, but you do need to be reasonably strong and fit.

Intelligence
Plumbers must be able to read, analyze and create plans quickly. They also need the ability to think critically and solve problems in order to efficiently complete each job. Furthermore, the best plumbers are interested in the newest plumbing technologies and products. These tradespeople should be curious and willing to continue learning over the course of their whole career.

People skills
Plumbing requires you to be around people all day. Whether you’re working on a job site with other tradespeople or in someone’s home, you need to be able to get along well with people and work as part of a team. And if you decide to start your own business, you’ll also need to be able to manage your employees.

If you think you have what it takes to become a plumber, contact your local trade school and find out how to start a new career in this field.

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The “irreplaceable” employee

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“No one is irreplaceable” is a common phrase in business, especially in large corporations.

While everyone can be replaced, some employees would be painful to replace. Why? They’ve earned it.

According to Forbes.com, nearly-irreplaceable employees exceed what’s required of them. They know how to address an issue without long explanations. They respect the time of others and practice effective communication.

They listen, observe, understand relevant content, and act upon it. They anticipate the situation and know what to do about it.

They are trustworthy, accountable, and reliable. When his or her manager is out of the office, the irreplaceable employee not hesitant to take on significant responsibilities. They’re loyal.

They initiate new and better solutions. They make recommendations, ask questions, and are willing to help others. They’re upbeat, friendly, outgoing, and optimistic in hard-working, tense hours.

They quickly adapt to change. They don’t resist it and know there must be a good reason for it. They are problem solvers, not complainers. When they come with a problem, they bring their proposed solution.

They don’t need constant attention and motivation. They know what they do and how and why they do it. They know how to motivate their colleagues.

They embrace the big picture without specifically-detailed guidance. They don’t shy away from a new challenge. They’re fast learners and thinkers.

They have in-depth knowledge of the company, its products, processes, clients, and culture. When something new arrives, they can efficiently process it, apply the latest knowledge, and put it into effect.

They’re organized and efficient. They come to work because they want to, not because they have to. They’re the people who invest their time and potential each day to make the company successful.

That’s why they’re “irreplaceable.” Or nearly so.

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Truck industry always needs drivers

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Trucks transport about 70 percent of all of the freight in the U.S., a $670 billion business and there is plenty of room for help.

Opportunities for drivers are everywhere, including at jobs with top companies, offering excellent money and sterling insurance and retirement benefits.

But, it is also a career that requires both skill and sacrifice.

In terms of skill, it’s not easy to become an expert in navigating a massive rig with an engine six times larger than a car and built for more than a million miles of nonstop running.

Both companies and private schools teach people how to handle rigs, but the demands of the road require experience and even knowledge of the trucks themselves.

To become a driver, you must be 18 years old to drive truck intrastate, 21 across state lines. A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required to drive any vehicle carrying more than 26,000 pounds, hazardous materials, or oversized loads. To earn a CDL, you must produce a clean driving record, pass a written test, and a Department of Transportation physical.

You also must have good eyesight, hearing, regular use of arms and legs, and normal blood pressure. You can’t use medications affecting your ability to operate the vehicle safely, and employers are required to check their drivers for drug and alcohol use.

For all this, good drivers can earn well over $45,000 in their first year. With some companies, drivers earn over $70,000, according to Truck Driver Salary.

But, as with everything, there is sacrifice.

One of them is the driver’s work schedule. Drivers earning the highest salaries can be gone from 2 to 5 weeks at a time, a schedule that can strain home life, especially for families. Some companies offer guaranteed weekends off, although they probably don’t pay the kind of salary that over-the-road drivers make.

Not every driver is required to shower and sleep at truck stops, though many do. Some companies may offer hotel rooms to drivers.

There is a certain mystique to truck driving. It’s a hard life, but an interesting one that takes a driver to many unique places. Even with the advent of some driverless trucks, there are still plenty of openings in this industry.

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The impact of target marketing in small business

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Target marketing, according to Inc., is collecting information to determine your ideal customers among those who also need and will pay for your product or service.

For these purposes, you need their age, gender, family size, education level, and occupation. To find out where they are, you need their zip codes, size of the area, its population, and climate.

How does your ideal customer decide to make a purchase? The answer helps you determine why they buy what you’re selling, how much of it they need, and how often they must buy it.

Most social media profiles for your business provide a free demographic breakdown of customers like yours. Zip Codes can furnish vast amounts of info from the U.S. Census Bureau.

If you’re currently in business, your sales data clearly show what your customers are buying, when, and their purchase prices, among other data. For the essential feedback, talk to them in person or on the phone, conduct a few customer surveys. You don’t need a ton of responses to acquire a pretty good sense of your customer base.

In addition to the basic demographics, these should be among the takeaways from your target customers:

Is the distance to your location a problem? Parking? Public Transportation? Do, or can you, deliver?

How do they make a living? Knowing what your primary customers do can help you adjust your hours to fit their needs or devise special offers. Having an idea of the money they can or are willing to spend can help with your pricing. With this kind of information, you can confirm some of your assumptions regarding your customers and dismiss others.

Practical target marketing is almost always beneficial. And genuine interaction with your patrons — plus giving them what they want — is almost always a pathway to loyalty and future growth.

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Why Facebook ads are often not profitable for small business

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The revenue of Facebook ads is ever-increasing, and small businesses are the reasons why.

But not all small businesses profit.

With 2.2 billion users every day, Facebook will easily surpass $4 billion in advertising this year. It has a global reach that promises highly-targeted audiences.

All this can be managed with a small dollar amount to begin if the audience is local.

Why, then, do 62 percent of small businesses not make any money with their Facebook ads?

The reason has four parts:
1 – Nature of Facebook
Facebook has become a friends, and family favorite and enabling conversation is Facebook’s first mission, according to Facebook itself. It is an after-work pleasure for most. The key idea is that people are taking a break from work or are at home when they are on Facebook. Something to remember.

2 – The service or product
Consumer items like clothes, decorations, games, and toys do sell on Facebook. Maybe this is because Facebook ads come to people when they are relaxed.

3 – Facebook targeting
Facebook’s targeting abilities are widely acclaimed. Yet, it is sometimes impossible to see whether your targeted ad hit the target. You might gets likes, comments, or shares, but many times you won’t get them from your actual audience. Why is this? Facebook claims that ads are shared. Yet, the person who shares is often not the target market. If your results are bad, change targeting, but you will probably never be able to confirm whether any portion of your ad hit your target.

Consumer products that appeal to nearly everyone work best. Service niches, product niches, just won’t work as well. Business products won’t work as well either, though some do.

4 – User skill
Still, if you want to buy Facebook, you must put in the time to become an expert in its targeting and ad styles.

An eye-catching meme-like ad with an offer usually will attract likes and shares, which expand your audience organically.

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Upcoming Events

Feb
25
Tue
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 25 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, February 25 – Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! After[...]
Feb
26
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 26 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20: Come in for some great stories, songs, and a craft about our feathered friends, Birds!  Siblings welcome. Wednesday, February[...]
Feb
27
Thu
10:00 am Day of Giving @ Samuels Public Library
Day of Giving @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 27 @ 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Day of Giving @ Samuels Public Library
In conjunction with “Love Your Library Month,” Samuels Public Library will hold its first “Day of Giving” on Thursday, February 27, 2020. Thanks to an anonymous donor, all donations made in-person at the Library or[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 27 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20: Come in for some great stories, songs, and a craft about our feathered friends, Birds!  Siblings welcome. Wednesday, February[...]
Feb
28
Fri
9:00 am Veterans Benefit @ Able Forces Foundation
Veterans Benefit @ Able Forces Foundation
Feb 28 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veterans Benefit @ Able Forces Foundation
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America[...]
7:00 pm Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Feb 28 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Love Revival - FREE Monthly Community Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Free Community Dinner for everyone! Come enjoy a hot meal on the last Friday of every month at Love Revival Ministry Center.
Feb
29
Sat
10:00 am Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 29 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Loom Knit an adorable kitten. In this beginner’s class for teens and adults, you will work on a 24 peg loom to knit a small stuffed toy. *Instruction will be right handed. No prior knitting[...]
11:00 am Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Nothing is more comforting than warm soup on a chilly day! Learn how to make some yummy soup, and do some taste-testing to choose your favorite. For ages 8 and up. Registration begins January 29.
11:00 am Trauma & Resiliency Training for... @ Samuels Public Library
Trauma & Resiliency Training for... @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Trauma & Resiliency Training for Early Childhood Providers @ Samuels Public Library
Statistics show us that one in four children will experience trauma by the age of four. This trauma could be abuse, hunger, homelessness, witnessing violence, medical trauma, or grief. We know that a child’s greatest[...]
1:00 pm Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
Feb 29 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge