Why Your Bargain Web Hosting Could Cost You More Than You Think

“We’ve all heard the old saying,

Time is money“,

well, it’s true and if you have “bargain” web hosting it could be costing you a fortune!

 

I’m sure you’ve seen those ads on Facebook, while you’re shopping, even when you’re trying to relax with a mindless game. $2.95 hosting! Save money!

Yes, it’s true you can get hosting from some companies for “VERY LOW PRICES“, but there’s another saying that I’m reminded of.

You get what you pay for”. Cheap isn’t always good especially when it comes to running your business or blog. 

 

First, it’s NEVER just $2.95 a month.

 

 Here is what you’re paying for an SSL Certificate if you have GoDaddy!

Can you say, “Ouch!”

An SSL is a necessary investment and if you can get it for free? Hello?!?

You’re Probably Asking, “Who Cares!”

 

This is one of the most important decisions that you will make for your business. Web Hosting is the necessary foundation and just like with everything else some foundations are stronger than others.

A 1-second delay in page load time can lead to:

  • a 7% loss in conversions
  • 11% fewer pageviews
  • 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.

 

graphic showing losses in dollars amount

When deciding on web hosting you need to take 3 main factors into account.

 

  • SPEED

  • SECURITY

  • SUPPORT

SPEED

As I said above even a fraction of a second adds up to $$ and as a small business owner, we need to get as much bang for our bucks as possible.

 

Like my husband always says, “the proof is in the pudding”.

Below are 6 of my web hosting clients who have agreed to let me share these stats with you.

As you can also see, every single one of them passed the tests with flying colors and it’s because of the foundation that the sites are hosted on.

HOW DO THEY DO THAT?


 

  • PROVIDING A CDN
  • UTILIZES FLYCACHE
  • INSTANT REFRESH

SAFETY

EVERY PLAN COMES WITH A FREE SSL CERTIFICATE

 

Every plan comes with a FREE SSL which was mentioned above (definitely worth mentioning again).
 

EACH PLAN COMES WITH MALWARE PROTECTION & MALWARE REMOVAL IF NEEDED!

SUPPORT

 

Last but certainly not last in this list of pros!

TRUE LIVE 24/7 SUPPORT

 

THEY DON’T “WALK YOU THROUGH” DIFFICULT SITUATIONS.

 

YOU ASK, THEY PERFORM…
THAT’S REALLY IT!

 

  • AUTOHEALING TECHNOLOGY

  • DAILY BACKUPS

  • ONE BUTTON RESTORE

 

 

We offer three plan sizes

We Have Just What You Need...

Website Maintenance

Website Maintenance is like an insurance policy for your business. Keeping your site maintained is an important responsibility. We take care of it so you don't have to.

What it includes:

  • Website backups w/ offsite storage
  • WordPress Update 2 x
  • Theme updates 2 x
  • Plugin updates 2 x
  • Database Optimization  2x
  • Malware Scan 2 x
  • Speed test 1 x
  • Site Performance Report 1x
  • "Eyes On" site checks
  • Discounted hourly rate
  • MailChimp support
  • Google Analytics support
  • 25% Discount on any services.
$199.99 Annually




Premium Website Management

With Premium Website Management you get the best of both worlds plus even more. This is for the girl who has everything and no time for anything.

 What it includes:

  • Premium hosting
  • CDN
  • Server-side daily backups
  • Offsite backups 2x monthly
  • WordPress core updates
  • Free SSL certificates
  • Uptime monitoring
  • One-button emergency restore
  • Malware protection
  • Staging site for development
  • Theme & plugin updates 2 x
  • Spam removal 2 x
  • Database optimization 2 x
  • "Eyes-On" site check 2 x
  • Speed check 1 x
  • Access to Genesis Framework
  • Access to StudioPress themes
  • Website performance Report 1 x
  • Integration Monitoring (MailChimp, Paypal, or Google Analytics.
  • Unlimited Tech Support

Save By Paying Annually. Get two months FREE!




Website Hosting

By partnering with Flywheel we offer a feature-rich plan that will keep your website secure & running its best. Unlike other hosts, you don't pay extra for the necessities needed to run an online business.

What it includes:

  • Onsite daily backups
  • Free SSL Certificate
  • CDN
  • Uptime Monitoring
  • One Button emergency restore
  • Malware Protection/removal
  • Staging Site For Development

 


 

Save By Paying Annually



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Why Is Your Brand Forgettable?

flatlay desk top with wording

Creating a memorable identity for your business won’t happen overnight. All the best entrepreneurs know it’s a long game — one in which you must consistently connect with your audience over and over again.

 

Does your brand feel forgettable?

If so, here are two possibilities for how you’re unintentionally making your business easy to forget:

1. Not communicating what makes you distinct:

Whether your industry is gluten-free baked goods or corporate accounting services, you must answer the question: Why should someone choose your business over the competition? This is why a unique sales proposition (USP) is so vital.
 
What’s great about your business? What convinces customers to choose you? However you answer these questions, you want to weave it into your entire marketing campaign from your tagline to your social media posts. This ensures your customers understand who you are and what you offer, encouraging them to choose you.
 

2. Having an inconsistent personality and/or message:

 
Let’s face it, it’s hard to remember every brand of car or toothpaste or cereal. It gets even harder if the brand is changing all the time. Was that business the one with the red and white logo or a black and white logo? Did they say they were known for down-home hospitality or sophisticated style?
 
Obviously, in terms of memorability, consistency is king. If you’ve gone through several iterations of messaging already, you can assume it’s been hard on your brand and your customers. For a stronger identity, pick a strategic name, logo, value proposition, etc., and then stick to it.
 
Interested in learning more reasons customers may be forgetting your brand? Take a look at the attached resource. In it, you’ll find not only factors that can harm your messaging, but also eight tips for what to do about it.
 
AUTHOR BIO: Kacie Stoll is a project expeditor at Golden Rule Signs, an LED sign company. Her professional experiences range from marketing and public relations to sales and customer support. Stoll enjoys working with customers and vendors all over the country to execute with speed and accuracy.
 

This infographic was created by Golden Rule Signs, a commercial sign company

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It’s Coming, Are You Ready For Google Web Core Vitals?

flat lay desktop

Google is making a major update to the way they rank websites.

 

It’s a new set of website performance metrics that will affect your SEO rankings

 

I’m sure you’ve seen that term floating around the internet. If it’s new to you, you may in for a big shock come May of this year when your rankings tank and your SEO plan go down the tubes!

 

You do have an SEO plan, don’t you?. If you don’t have a successful SEO plan in place I suggest subscribing and you will receive your very own SEO Strategy Planner for FREE!

 

Google uses 3 tests (Web Vitals)

  • Largest Content Paint (LCP)
  • First Input Delay (FID)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

LCP

This metric measures how quickly the main content becomes visible to the user.

This can be an image, article, or description, etc.

EX: You may have a fast load speed, but the larger content takes longer.

 

SPEED TESTS TOOLS WILL GIVE YOU A HIGH SCHOOL BUT PROVIDING A POOR USER EXPERIENCE MAY BE WORSE.

These tests are meant to give you a clearer picture of your website’s performance.

 

FID

Measures the time it takes a user’s browser to actually be able to begin processing event handlers in response to a user’s interaction. 

Are you sensing a theme here?

This can be as contact form, comment, share button, opt-ins, etc.. How long does it take when they are able to click that link?

CLS

Measures the time it takes for a website to become visibly stable.

As a website loads, some elements take more time to load than others.

During this time, your website’s content may keep moving on the screen.

EX: A reader is reading a paragraph on a mobile phone and a video embedded loads above it, this makes the entire content move down.

Frustrating if a user is trying to accomplish an action such as adding a product to a cart.

These metrics should be

  • LCP     2.5 seconds
  • FID      <100 milliseconds
  • CLS     <.01

 

  • You can also access your Core Vitals report in your Google console. This allows you to see how many URLs need improvement, passed, or have a poor score.
  • You can also obtain this by using your Chrome browser by right-clicking on the page and choose Inspect Element, look at the top and you’ll see LIGHTHOUSE by clicking on the arrows where it says ELEMENT, CONSOLE SOURCE>> hit those arrows to see it. MUST BE IN THE INCOGNITO MODE FOR THIS TO WORK (in your Chrome Browser click those three dots and the very top right-hand side and click NEW INCOGNITO WINDOW.

Google has already announced that search algorithms update will include page experience as one of its ranking factors  5/21

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR WEB CORE VITALS

  1. OPTIMIZE YOUR WEB HOSTING – Having good web hosting is becoming a necessity these days and the core web vitals are no different. This is an important part of your score. Bargain hosting is no longer adequate when you worried about rankings. Premium hosting can be a lifesaver. By providing security, SSLs and a CDN is the way that websites are being hosted these days. I HAVE THE ANSWER FOR THIS
  2. IMPROVE LCP SCORE – Optimize your images! Make sure that you are using a caching plugin if possible that includes image optimization. You can also use tools like Imagify, Smush, etc. (I recommend WP Rocket (make sure it’s compatible with your theme). Also, I find a lot that clients are using several of these thinking perhaps the more the better when in fact the opposite is true. I prefer to use caching in my premium web hosting instead of adding a weighty plugin. An example of LCP would be the featured image in a blog post. If it exceptionally large that could cause problems.
  3. IMPROVE FID –  Again a caching plugin will help with this. Changing the way you load your Javascript and CSS can also be a big help. Always, minify your CSS.
  4. IMPROVE CLS – Fix layout shifts. Make sure all of your images have size attributes. Right-click on inspect tool to check these. Cache plugin.
  5. ELIMINATE RENDER BLOCKING ELEMENTS (Elements that are slower to load). These are usually: Javascript & CSS that is added by plugins like Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, etc.
  6. PROPERLY SIZE IMAGES IN WP – Wrong size images can cause issues on mobile devices.
  7. USE A CDN – I HAVE THE ANSWER FOR THIS. A CDN allows you to serve static content on your website from multiple servers around the globe which drastically decreases load times.
  8. IMAGES – When you upload an image to your WordPress media library three copies are automatically created. These sizes are THUMBNAILS, MEDIUM, LARGE. You can set these under SETTINGS>>MEDIA. If you put a “0” in that box it will skip that size if you aren’t using them. Also, if you’d like your thumbnails to be rectangular you could change the thumbnail size to something like WIDTH: 450px  HEIGHT: 200px. such as for food blogs.Larger images provide a clearer image but take up more storage space. Check the “Organize my uploads by month and year.

NEED MORE HELP WITH RENDER BLOCKING TEXT?

As I said, this is inserted by your plugins. If you’re using

  • WP Rocket uses the FILE OPTIMIZATION TAB.
  • Minify & combine your Javascript and CSS ** Make sure to check because this can cause some minor design changes.
  • Javascript deferred – Save mode for JQuery.

 

.WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

A 1-second delay in page load time can lead to:

  • a 7% loss in conversions
  • 11% fewer pageviews
  • 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.

 

graphic showing losses in dollars amount

 

 

 

 

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Top Design Tips to Boost Your Sales in 2020

flatlay desktop with blue/white office supplies

Effective Design Tips to Improve Your Sales in 2020

Running a business can be challenging, and 2020, the year of the COVID-19, has been especially trying.  You find that you are struggling to make sales, and you’re starting to worry that you may have to shut down. With the right design tips, you can boost your sales and keep your doors open, even in these challenging times.

the word create written in pencil

2020 has proved to be a very challenging year for everyone. The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the business landscape leading to the closure of many companies.  Those that have managed to survive have had to implement cutbacks and other cost-saving measures. 

In the same breath, they are looking for ways to increase their sales to remain afloat. Platforms such as Mr.Bet have excellent tools for those operating online casinos and are looking for tips to design a game. But what tips can help boost sales for other businesses?

We will show you the top design tips to boost your sales in 2020 below.

1. Have a professional website built

What are web design tips?  Simply put, it is any techniques you will apply to increase traffic to your website.  One of the best design tips for websites is not to have sliders on your homepage. They can confuse people whatever you want to tell your audiences.

Other things you need to incorporate in your web design include:

  •       A strong call-to-action
  •       Visible contact information that works
  •       Aligning your website to any advertisements 
  •       Developing design tips by understanding exactly who you are talking to and their point of need
  •       Having trust icons such as social proof, security measures, and safe shopping guarantees, among others
  •       Creating a sense of urgency around your promotions or products
  •       Making the checkout process easy
  •       Simplifying the checkout process and removing the navigation bar from the page. You do not want to present customers with the option of abandoning their carts.
  •       Incorporating customers voice in your copy

2. Put the Customer First

With the pandemic being such a painful reality in 2020, business owners must put the health and safety of customers first.  If you’re operating a brick-and-mortar store, ensure you have proper sanitization and social distancing rules.  

Communicate with the customers via your website, email, social media, or even mobile apps.  Information around the pandemic and staying safe is especially welcome at this time.

One of the best design tips in marketing you will get is to go over and beyond customer expectations. When customers see that you care for them, they will remain loyal and even send some referrals your way.

Invest in training staff members to build passion around the brand and give customers the same experience.

woman holding her head in front of her laptop

3. Design and Optimize Your Gaming Website

Online gaming is on the rise. If you are a new developer, here is what you need to know.

  •       When designing, think of the end-user by having an easy-to-use interface
  •       Hook your players with your characters
  •       Provide quality sound to enhance the mood
  •       Provide consistency and balance in gameplay
  •       Unique designs will ensure you stand out

Optimizing your website is so much more than having the right keywords to attract visitors. The use of graphics and video will help reduce bounce rates.  There are some fantastic design tips graphics you will find online to help with the process. 

Design tips in Photoshop will help you customize photos or even create virtual tours for your visitors.

Customize your website to make it accessible on smart devices such as tablets or mobiles. A large percentage of visitors will browse it via such devices. 

4. Offer Money-Back Guarantee

Have you ever wondered why companies offer money-back guarantees? Not only is it a very effective marketing tactic, but it shows that you have faith in your product. 

When customers know they can return a purchase they are not happy with, it’s likely they’ll trust you with their money. Just be sure to offer a guarantee that you can live up to it.

5. Don’t Forget Your Existing Customers

If you have existing customers, repurposing your marketing content to mitigate them is a good move.  By developing messaging that directly talks to them, you increase the likelihood of return purchases.

Think about promotions that target them directly. It could be a way of saying thank you to them for their loyalty.  In return, they will stick by you and continue to be faithful customers.

Conclusion

We have shared what we consider top design tips to boost sales in 2020.  Everything you do should be about the customer. Safety and information during this pandemic period are critical. 

Pay attention to your website design and take advantage of smart devices so that you can reach those who shop via their smart devices. Most importantly, pay attention to your existing customers through promotions and exclusive offers, where possible.

What other tips would you have for a business that wants to stay afloat in 2020?  Head over to the comment section to share your feedback.  

 

Author’s Bio 

 

Alex has many irons in many fires, including starting an eCommerce store and his own marketing company. He is very busy, but the work is rewarding, and freedom has allowed him to fish, see friends more regularly.

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3 Proven Ways To Promote Your New Business

flat lay desk - 3 ways to promote your new business

The world is filled with great ideas and broke business owners with fabulous products but no sales.

The fact is, ideas are not what drives most business success. Marketing does. So before you quit your day job to branch out on your own, it pays to have a solid marketing plan in place. Start with these 5 ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Free Webinars

For information product sellers, coaches, and service providers, one of the best sources of new clients is in free training webinars. No matter what your niche, the promise of in-depth training at no cost is enough to entice potential clients to part with an email address (which you’ll be able to market to later) and an hour of their time.

Not only that, but webinars are a fantastic way for those potential customers to get to know you better. And the better they know you, the more likely they are to buy.

Content Marketing

Not comfortable hosting a webinar? Hit the keyboard and start sharing your thoughts and ideas via your blog, ebooks, guest articles and other written content. For internet marketers, this gives readers a taste of what they can expect from your product. If you sell physical products, it provides the perfect opportunity to share usage tips and other important information with your buyers.

Of course, there’s another important benefit to content marketing, too: search engine optimization. Google and other search engines index the words on your website and use the information to present search results to their users. Content marketing is a tool you can use to make the most of these results and to bring more potential buyers to your website.

Paid Advertising

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google and plenty of other sites all offer paid placement, and with today’s powerful analytics tools, it’s easy to create ads and drive traffic inexpensively. Consider starting with Facebook, since the cost is low and it’s easy to target your ads to your ideal client. Once you’ve perfected your funnel, you can branch out into more costly ads with a larger reach, such as Google AdWords or another ad network.

Don’t limit yourself to these three marketing methods though. There are dozens of others you can try, including affiliate programs, JV partnerships, automated funnels, direct mail campaigns, and even television advertising. The key is to keep testing and tweaking to make the most of every marketing effort, so that your business continues to grow.

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Investing With Ellevest Six Months Later

For the last 6 months, I’ve been talking about the investment company that I’ve been partnering with Ellevest. I’ve learned a lot about financing, but I know I still have such a long way to go. I’ve read so much about the disproportionate way that men & women are treated when it comes to our financing. It’s a real thing and it doesn’t seem to be going away at least until we bust that ceiling once and for all.

How do we do that? Educating ourselves.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

If we educate ourselves we’ll know our own worth and will start to demand to be treated as an equal. Women pay more for everything yet we make less 9 times out of 10. We earn less so we invest less which only hurts us in the long run. Think about this: isn’t even a little bit better than none at all?

I want to feel secure in my financial future and no matter what tax bracket you’re in tragedy can and does strike, people still get divorced, become widowed, or maybe single and like it. Either way, you can bet your financial future doesn’t look as bright as your male counterpart. Things happen unexpectedly and if you’re already starting out below the norm something like a job loss or an accident could potentially be between you and homelessness. Yes, I’m being a bit dramatic, but it happens every single day.

I have this same reoccurring dream of being homeless pushing a shopping cart through the freezing rain. Is it likely to happen? Probably not, but life is like Roulette when your number pops up that’s it. I want financial freedom and security for all of you no matter what that looks like in your world.

I’ve never set out to be rich. It actually seems like it would be a nightmare for me. I hate money. I hate having it, but I also hate not having it. When I get it I want to get rid of it immediately and even I can recognize that it’s not a healthy way to live. I’m not sure where this comes from, but if I had it I would want to give it away. Don’t get me wrong though, I want to be comfortable. It just takes less for me to be comfortable than most.

Anyway, back to Ellevest. Six months ago I set up an account with $50. That’s it, nothing exceptionally noteworthy, but I did it and it made me unbelievably proud. Then I set up an automatic deposit of $50 a month. That’s it painless. I never have to worry about it or even think about it if I don’t want to, but I find myself checking it often.

My husband has a 401k, we both have life insurance and that’s it. Like most Americans sometimes it’s paycheck to paycheck, but most of the time we’re flush. He works a full-time job and I work from home building lovely SEO optimized, mobile responsive websites (just had to say it lol). This account is just for me, but it has affected me more than I ever thought possible.

$50 a month for the last 6 months comes to $300 and to date the account has $317.48. Investing is not about big losses or small it’s about moving forward and adjusting. Will I get rich from this small attempt at building some financial wealth? Absolutely not, but it could help one of my grandkids pay for college or maybe purchase that trip to Ireland I’ve always dreamed about. The point is I’m taking action. I’m taking it upon myself to control how I grow my money and not leaving it up to just fate. Just getting started is the biggest step.

The images above are straight from my account. Want to try it for yourself?

 

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How Does Website Speed Affect Your Bottom Line?

‘Search engines now care a lot about user experience and one of the largest impacts on user experience is website speed. 

So if you want to stand a chance of getting anywhere near the money-making positions in the SERPs (1st, 2nd & 3rd spots) you need to ensure your pages are loading both on mobile and desktop… FAST.

Take a look at the 6 steps I took to increase my website speed…’

 

 

Author Bio

‘After a successful digital marketing career in the corporate world, Matthew Woodward began his blog in 2012. Since then he has picked up 8 blogging awards and more importantly, helped thousands of his followers achieve their digital marketing and SEO goals through his detailed case studies and tutorials.’

 

Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin | Youtube

 

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How Does Society Patronize Women When it Comes to Money? Ask Sally!

We’ve been talking about how society patronizes women when it comes to money quite a bit lately. But what, exactly, does that look like? Sallie has a few thoughts on this one.

 

Sallie’s answer:

By making us feel guilty.

By making us think that not buying a coffee from a coffee shop can help us become millionaires. By telling us that we have to save, and budget, and not talking to us about investing. Telling us that we’re risk-averse. All the messages we get, as women, about money, that are guilt-inducing and shame-inducing.

It starts in childhood when parents talk to their little girls about budgeting, and saving, and being careful, and little boys about making money, and being the CEO, and going to the top of the jungle gym. It continues as we become young adults and we are told to “take the money quiz” to find out our “money type,” while the guys are told about diversified investment portfolios.

The result of all of this is that the primary emotions so many women feel around money are shame, and loneliness, and isolation.

We need to break this down, get rid of the guilt. Don’t listen to the patronizing voices, and talk about money.

Are you ready to get started building your future?

*I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.

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Should You Save Your Money Or Invest It?

Both investing and saving involve setting aside money today to prepare for the future. So it’s understandable that some people mix them up, or think of them as alternatives to one another. But they aren’t the same, and how you combine them can have a big effect on your money.

The real difference between saving and investing is where you’re putting your money — which, in turn, influences how much risk you’re taking, and how much your money could grow while it’s saved / invested.

How saving and investing work

Saving

Piggy banks and mattress hoards technically count, but when we talk about saving, we really mean putting your money in a savings account at a bank — one that’s insured by the FDIC. FDIC insurance guarantees that if something happens to the bank you’re using, you won’t lose any of your money (up to $250,000). That means when you save (up to that much), you’re taking zero risks.

When you put your money in a savings account, you earn a small amount of interest. The national average is 0.09%, and even “high yield” savings accounts only pay around 2%. That’s because technically, the bank is paying to borrow that money from you — they use cash flow from customer deposits to loan money to other people (and charge their own interest).

Still, you can withdraw your money any time you want. There’s a fee, though, if you make more than six withdrawals a month, which is meant to entice you to keep your savings in the bank. (There’s no penalty for taking money out of a checking account, like when you pay bills — but checking accounts don’t generally pay interest.)

Bottom line: Savings accounts are really safe, pay a small amount of interest, and allow you to get your money out quickly.

Investing

When you invest your money, you’re using your cash to buy investments. That might mean you own individual stocks, bonds, or alternative investments; or it might mean you own shares of a fund (aka a basket of individual investments), like you’ll have if you’re an online client of Ellevest.

As the values of your individual investments go up (or down), the value of your investment account will go up (or down). You might also earn payments called dividends from stocks, and interest from bonds. All that’s what makes it possible to earn (or lose) money by investing. The exact amount of risk involved depends on what kinds of investments you own.

So think of investing not as “spending” your money, but simply changing how it works. True, it’s not exactly the same as having cash (for one thing, you can’t pay rent with it). And as we mentioned, your investments might become worth substantially more or less than the cash you originally paid for them. But you can sell your investments to turn them back into cash any time you want — just give it a couple days to process. (You might also owe taxes if you sell investments that have gone up in value since you bought them.)

Bottom line: Like saving, investing is a way to put aside money for the future, while still giving you pretty quick access to that money if you need it. But unlike with a savings account, investing involves risk.

So if investing involves risk, why not just save all your money instead?

We’ll tell you why: Historically, over the long term, investing has been a lot more powerful than saving. This is true because investing involves risk — people demand to be compensated for taking on the extra risk of investing their money.

Does taking a risk feel uncomfortable? We get it. But when you’re talking about your biggest money goals, like retiring, you can’t really afford not to invest. That’s because — even though some individual years were up and some years were down — over the past 91 years, the stock market has returned an annual average of 9.5%. (Timely reminder: Savings accounts = 0.09% interest. For context, inflation has historically hovered around 2%.)

To put that into context, here’s what we project could happen if someone were to save / invest $25 a month for 40 years.*

InvestingvsSavingComparison

Here’s why this matters: Research shows that women keep 71% of their assets in cash, compared with 60% for men — so they could be missing out on potential investing returns. Add in things like the gender pay gap, and it’s no wonder that generally, women retire with two-thirds as much money (and worse for women of color), even though they live an average of six to eight years longer. In fact, this gender investing gap could cost women hundreds of thousands — for some women, millions — of dollars over the course of their lives.

When you should save and when you should invest

So yes, we believe you should invest. But that doesn’t mean saving isn’t sometimes the right choice. There’s a time and place for both.

Whether you save or invest has to do with two things: time and risk. If you’re planning to need your money in the next year or two, then it might make sense to save. That’s because if the investing markets took a tumble, you wouldn’t have much time to give it a chance to recover. You should also use a saving account for the money in your emergency fund — if (when) you need that money for financial emergencies, it has to be there, 100% safe and sound.

On the other hand, if you have three-plus years until you’re going to need your money, then investing can make sense instead. And the longer your timeline, the more important it is to consider investing over saving. You also might choose to invest any money that you don’t need — aka money that you just want to grow as quickly as possible (and aren’t afraid to take risk with).

Moral of the story: Put both saving and investing on your money checklist. They aren’t the same, but they’re both useful. And they’re both part of a smart, future-focused financial plan. Get started today.

Check out this Investment Guide to Bonds by InvestmentCanvas.com

Are you ready to invest in yourself? Start here!

“I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.”

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The Finance Checklist You Need To Work Through This Fall


If summer’s self-care mood is “treat yourself,” then fall’s self-care mood is “let’s do the damn thing.” Enter: financial self-care. Because a) summer was expensive (lookin’ at you, Charleston vacation), b) September is Self-Care Month anyway and it’s better late than never (it’s a thing, I promise) and c) getting your money stuff in order feels A-Maz-ing.

It’s good for present-day you: Sometimes the best way to beat stress is to look the stressful thing in the eye and conquer it. And it’s good for Future You, too — the sooner you get started, the more time you have to work toward your goals. And it’s good for stress: In one survey, 73% of people who had clear financial goals also said they had lower stress levels. Plus, like with any self-care practice, the more consistent you are with it, the better it gets.

So here’s your fall financial self-care checklist. Grab your calculator & not the one on your phone because it’s probably right next to the FB button. Nope, grab a real-life 1980’s style calculator! What? You don’t have one of those? #geeksneedlovetoo Grab a calendar, a notebook, and sharp pencil or whatever it is you use to “do the damn thing” and let’s get down to it!

Your Financial Self-Care Checklist

1. Track down your most recent pay stubs

Start by getting an understanding of how much money you have coming in each month. Grab your paycheck stubs from the past month and give them a look.

First, calculate how much you’re making after taxes — aka your take-home pay. This may or may not be equal to the final amount of your check: If you have money withheld for 401(k) contributions, insurance premiums, or other employee benefits like that, then those will come into play later. For now, just look at your gross pay minus taxes. How much take-home pay do you earn in one month?

If you get paid irregularly, like if you rely on freelance income, then this might be a bit trickier. We recommend calculating your take-home pay from the last few months and then taking an average.

2. Get to know your current spending habits

Next, pull up your debit and credit card statements and look through your past few months of purchases. Categorize them into three buckets: needs (groceries, rent, etc), fun (eating out, buying things you wanted, etc), and “Future You” (saving, investing, and debt payments beyond the minimums).

This is where those paycheck withholdings we mentioned above come in. Any 401(k) contributions you’re making go in the “Future You” bucket, and insurance premiums go in the needs bucket. You can categorize any other withholdings however makes sense — for example, a public transit benefit might go in needs, and a gym membership might go in fun.

Finally, add them all up. How much are you spending on each bucket per month? There are no wrong answers — this exercise isn’t meant to make you feel guilty, it’s just to see where you’re starting from today.

3. Set a goal for your future spending habits

Now it’s time to make a plan. We like the 50/30/20 rule, which is a high-level framework for organizing your spending. It uses the same buckets we mentioned above. Traditionally, following the 50/30/20 rule means 50% of your take-home pay will go to needs, 30% will go to fun, and 20% will to Future You.

But those percentages might not be realistic for you — which is why step two on this list was so important. Based on your spending habits today, set yourself a realistic goal for tomorrow. Maybe it’s 70/20/10, or 60/20/20, or 80/15/5. It’s flexible.

Even if you can only put 1% to Future You, start there. Over time, you can work on trimming expenses or boosting your income so that you can increase that percentage over time.

4. Take the next step with your 401(k)

Two things, specifically. First, if your employer offers a 401(k) employer match but you aren’t taking full advantage of it, then sign up and start contributing enough to get the full match. That’s free money, y’all.

Second, if you have an old 401(k) or two (or however many) from a previous employer just chillin’ out there, think about rolling it over. You could roll it over into your new employer’s plan if they let you, or an IRA. Either way, it can be super helpful to get everything in one place. (PS: This isn’t as much of a process as it might seem. When you start a rollover with Ellevest, we’ll guide you through the steps.)

5. Prioritize your debt payments

Being in debt — credit cardsstudent loans, personal loans, etc — doesn’t feel good. But paying your debt off does. The fastest way to do it is to pay more than the minimum required payments if you can. That will also save you money because the longer you take to pay debt off, the more interest you’ll owe.

So if you have debt and can make extra payments, the next step is to figure out which debt you want to focus on first. There are two popular strategies: To start with the balance that has the highest interest rate, or to start with the balance that has the smallest outstanding balance. Here’s some more info on those two methods and how to put them into practice.

6. Set an emergency fund target

Financial emergencies are a fact of life. Cars need repairs. People (and pets) get sick. Phones and computers break. This is why building an emergency fund is a big part of getting your financial life in a stable place.

We typically recommend saving between three and six months’ worth of your take-home pay. (Here’s how to decide exactly how much is right for you.) That might sound like a lot, but it’s totally OK to start small and work your way up over time. But today, your goal is just to figure out how much you want to aim for. Maybe, if you don’t have high-interest debt, you even open an account and make your first deposit.

7. Start investing toward your goals

If you’ve finished the first six steps of this checklist — first of all, you’re crushing it. Keep the momentum going by starting to prioritize and invest toward your long-term money goals. Goals like ramping up your retirement contributions, or like buying a home or starting a business.

Financial self-care checklist complete. Now light an apple-scented candle, put some chili on the stove, and enjoy the fall vibes.

Are you ready to start investing in yourself? Start here!

“I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.”

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Easy Steps To Invest Consistently

Investing consistently is the very best thing you can do for your future you. I get it the struggle is real! There are so many things vying for our attention that it’s easy to put things off or forget about them completely. Your future will be here before you know it. Believe me, I woke up & found myself at 49! How the hell did I get here so quickly?

Your future you will thank you for taking the time today to plan for tomorrow. What do you want to be or do when you grow up?

Do you want to:

  • Travel the world
  • Open a restaurant
  • Pay for your kids to go to college
  • Live your future life comfortably

If you answer yes to any of these things then you need to come up with a plan now rather than later.

MAKE IT A HABIT

Investing consistently, a bit out of every paycheck, is powerful. There’s the plain and simple fact that you’re building up your wealth, deposit by deposit. And if you put it on autopilot, there’s the whole “out of sight, out of mind” thing.

There’s another reason why the practice of consistent investing has historically been good for investors. And it’s so compelling that it even has a name:

DOLLAR-COST AVERAGING

Boring term. But a BFD for your bottom line.

Dollar-cost averaging is investing a consistent dollar amount at regular intervals of time, no matter what’s going on in the market. Example: a $100 recurring deposit into your investment account every month.

Why Does It Matter?

Ellevest says investors want returns. And some investors, in an attempt to earn as much in returns as possible, make a grave mistake: attempting to “time the market.” They think they can guess what will happen next, and try to “buy low” and “sell high.”

Bad idea. No one — no one — knows what the markets will do tomorrow. Not us. Not that confident-sounding guy on TV. Not even the people who are paid to do it.

That means you’re inevitably going to feel it on days when the market goes down. Bummer, yes, but it’s not all dark and gloomy. Here’s why: When the market’s down, that $100 deposit will get you more shares of stock. (That’s why you might hear people say that the markets are “on sale.”)

Example

Say the market was humming along, then plummeted, and then started to come back up.

Here’s what would happen if you were to keep investing consistently the whole time:

And here’s what would happen if you were to keep your money in a bank account while the market was down and then invest what you’d saved once it started to come back up:

In the first example, while your investments did lose value temporarily, it worked out pretty well for you after the market rebounded. In the second example, you missed out.

Back to real life. By using dollar-cost averaging, you take your own emotions (aka an investor’s worst enemy) out of the equation. You get rid of the risky guesswork, make investing a solid habit, and give yourself the opportunity to grow your net worth steadily over time. Pretty compelling reasons to invest regularly, right?

Here’s a compelling reason why “regularly” should start … right now.

Are you ready to start investing in your future you? Ellevest can help!

*I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.

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Clever Emergency Fund Solutions To Keep You From Becoming Homeless

Picture this: Your car blows up & your warranty is a thing of the past, you get sick and can’t even go to work much less pay the doctor, your employer folds up and files for bankruptcy or that baby you have been waiting for turns into three right before your very eyes.s What are you going to do?

Your stress level just shot through the roof, but this is life and nobody’s lane is bump-free. Hell, I’m not sure mine is even paved. It’s small things like this that can throw you off track quickly.

According to the Fed’s most recent survey40% of Americans would struggle to pay for an unexpected $400 expense without selling something or borrowing money. So whether you think of it as an emergency fund, a rainy day account, a financial cushion, or an “uncertainty fund,” you need one.

HOW MUCH DO YOU REALLY NEED TO HAVE IN AN ‘EMERGENCY FUND’?

At Ellevest, we typically recommend that you set aside three to six months’ worth of your take-home pay for emergencies. That can feel like a really big number, especially if you’re starting from scratch … but it’s one of the most important things you can do with your money. Because imagine if you needed it and didn’t have it. (Ouch.)

We can almost hear you thinking it: Three to six months is kind of a range. How much do I really need? There are two things that come into play during that decision: how much uncertainty you might have to face and your personal comfort level.

The shakier your financial ground is, the more you need to have.

FOR EXAMPLE

if you freelance full-time as a single mom and own a fixer-upper, you’re probably going to want closer to six months’ (or more) of your salary saved up. (Also, you are a superhero and we bow down to your amazingness.) Or if you’ve been in a steady, salaried job for a while, share finances with someone (like a spouse), and have no dependents and no mortgage, three months is probably good for you. (Heck yeah. You’re killing it.)

But maybe you’re in a stable, salaried job and share finances with someone in a stable, salaried job — and yet, three months doesn’t feel like enough security for you. In that case, save more. These are just guidelines, so do what feels best for you. (Just don’t keep all your money in cash. That can really cost you)

Once you’ve decided on how much you need to have there are three things that can help you get there.

  1. Pay down high-interest-rate debt — anything more than 5% — before you get started. Waiting to pay that debt off can really cost you.
  2. Find a high-level budgeting guideline that’s flexible enough to work for your life. Like the 50/30/20 rule.
  3. Work your way up, and set mini-goals along the way. Maybe your first goal is $1,000, and then one month’s expenses, and then two, and then three.

WHERE SHOULD YOU KEEP YOUR EMERGENCY FUND?

Keep your emergency fund in cash in a bank account. Make sure that’s FDIC insured.

Ellevest’s Emergency Fund goal is held in FDIC cash, so that might be a good place. High-yield savings accounts are another option. We don’t recommend putting your emergency fund in a certificate of deposit (CD) or any other type of account that doesn’t let you make withdrawals whenever you want. Don’t risk it.

WHEN SHOULD YOU USE YOUR EMERGENCY FUND?

Definitely an emergency: Anything unexpected that you absolutely must pay for. Your water heater breaks. You have to travel to see a sick loved one.

Definitely not an emergency: Things you want but don’t really need, or things that you could save up for. Think last-minute vacation plans or your annual insurance premiums.

But there’s also a gray area, and that’s different for everyone — here’s Ellevest’s best advice to help you decide what is and isn’t an emergency for you.

Saving up three to six months’ take-home pay, in cash, for emergencies only, is one of the earliest steps you can make if you want to take control of your financial future. (Wondering about the others? We’ve got you. Here are smart money moves to make at every age.)

Are you ready to start investing in your future you? Ellevest can help!

*I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.

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