Monday, August 17, 2009


Attention BananasEDU Blog-followers:

We have a NEW and improved blog site!! The new blog can be found at!

You can also search archives over there!

Please change the settings in your RSS reader to this site instead. All of our NEW posts are going there - including updates on Photo Business Boot Camp (new seats released!)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Meet the "Survivors" of Photo Biz Boot Camp in Australia!

I admit I was nervous about teaching in Australia. Would the way they run business be very different from how things are in the USA? Would the things I teach still apply?

I was blown away by these two amazing groups that I got to know in the relatively short time we were in Australia. While the differences WERE present - it was mainly in the vernacular and lack of tons of labs and album binders available that makes us different. The aspirations, struggles, laughs, numbers, and businesses were strangely familiar, quite similar.

Thank you ladies for inviting me into your world for a brief moment in time. Thank you for sharing with me and each other, and being willing to change your businesses for the better. Last, but not least, thank you to our fabulous hosts, Jessie Broome and Lee Illfield!! They were ever so welcoming and "luvlee!!" ;)

Jessie contacted me over a year and half ago about making this happen and there is NO WAY we could have made this happen without her hard work, continued communications, and follow-up. Thank you Jessie - you're amazing!!

BBC Melbourne, Australia

Holly is soon to be one of the first All-Green photographers in Australia.

- how can you not love a gal with a name like that!?

Gemma later modeled her wedding dress for us along with good friend Janet.

Janet was married in March - just two weeks before we tied the knot! They were leaving for an awesome round-the-world honeymoon right after Boot Camp.

Our hostess with the most-ess, Jessie. She's an amazing mother of FOUR little darling ladies. Seriously, I don't think I've seen better-behaving kids! She needs to write a book about how they manage it!

played the ever-helpful roll of co-hostess with the most-ess!

Kate being fabulous out front

Darling Sarah Black

And Kristin Cook who is soon to be expecting the latest edition to their family. Can't wait to see pics of the little one!

BBC - Newcastle/Sydney, Australia

The second BBC in Australia was hosted by the Luvlee Lee Illfield. Lee is to be married this fall so we had plenty of fun wedding-planning stuff to chat about too.

Cassandra has got some amazing wedding work!

Chantelle Bliss - okay, whoever was giving out last names blessed her with such a fun one! She's known for her beautiful Black and White work.

Renee Bell
is such a sweetheart and I got to meet her equally sweet daughter - who just happens to have the same name and spelling as me!! L-I-A-N-A. So cool!

Interesting fact about Cathy Crawley: she was the FIRST Pantene hair model in Australia!

Janine working it for the camera. I love how her necklace matches her fun, punchy brand!

Thank you ladies for an amazing experience and for being so welcoming to me and Mike!! I really do hope our paths cross again before too long. I mean, we didn't get to see the ALL of Australia yet, right!?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

18 Boot Camps in 2 Years

April was an amazing month for us, and also explains my MIA-status here on the BananasEDU blog.

If you've been following my liana's bananas blog, you'll know that I married my leading-man in Beverly Hills on April 5th, 2009 after which we spent a month away - traveling to New Zealand and Australia for our honeymoon. Oh yes, and also to teach TWO AWESOME Boot Camps in Australia!

April also marked the 2-year anniversary of the start of Photo Biz Boot Camp. I'm completely humbled and in awe of the opportunities I've been given over the past few years, including the EIGHTEEN (yes 18! Wow I said it!) Boot Camps that happened in Atlanta and all over the US and even abroad.

So what's next? I honestly never expected that people would REALLY step up to learn about their "numbers" and what I so fondly refer to as the "not fun-stuff every entrepreneur must know." I never expected that two years later people would still gleam insight an those "ah-ha" moments from a DVD we cut on a rainy winter week here in Atlanta, bad videography and all.

2007 was a year of blood, sweat, and tears producing the DVDs and massaging the class notes and curriculum into what they are now. But I'm still doing my Crazy Simple Workflow every day (or having someone do it for me!) I'm still running my numbers 5, 6, 12 times a year. KISS merchandising is something I haven't gotten quite beyond yet because I'm adding a new album company this year, and opening a lifestyle portrait studio that gets it's own set of products. I used the Brand Camp methods to create Ugly Cakes company for someone else to run, and a new brand for the portrait side of things.

So what's next? My mailbox full of requests for Future Boot Camp dates is starting to nudge "schedule for fall/winter 2009" to the top of my to-do list. I long to mix things up a bit, add something new, re-do the DVDs, teach larger groups again. I know that the small group format is what works best though. The feedback is crystal clear. I've got ideas, lots of updates to make, but for once in my life I know something is right. I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

So here's to another two years and any feedback, ideas, insights, suggestions you may have for me. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Watch this Video by Zack Arias

This video was brought to my attention today so I hopped over to Scott Kelby's blog to take a look.

I have to admit I almost clicked off during the intro... we think that photoshop, locations, the latest shoot that made that magazine is SOOOO important to what we do. It makes my head just want to explode!

We talk about these things non-stop, BUT in the grand scheme of things it Just Doesn't Matter. Zack puts into words and visuals in this video what I believe a LOT of us go through as photographers. While I really can't explain how I feel sometimes, Zach says it perfectly, poetically here. Get past the intro. Just watch.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Only a Few Spots Left - Book Photo Biz Boot Camp for January!!

We've had a few schedule changes but the good news there are still a FEW spots open in our January Boot Camps!!

We have THREE in the US in January 2009... which will be your last chance to attend a Boot Camp for a while! In April 2009, we will be getting married then teaching TWO Boot Camps in Australia, so there will be no other Boot Camps this Spring!

January 13-15, 2009 : Hickory, NC (Charlotte/Asheville/Winston-Salem)
January 25-27, 2009 : Benicia, CA (San Francisco)
January 28-30, 2009 : Vancouver, WA (Portland)

April 21-23, 2009 : Melbourne, Australia - FULL
April 26-28, 2009 : Newcastle, Australia (Sydney Area)

Reserve your spot now before it's too late!! It's only $99/month so you can't afford not to!

(Pic from last Boot Camp in PA)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Join Me Tomorrow 7PM EST (4PM Pacific)

Attention Pictage Users!

Tomorrow night is the Pictage Ask and Learn and I'm looking forward to chatting with a bunch of you about the topic "Money, Lies, and Photography."

Here's the information on the Pictage Blog. Fun stuff!!

Also, if you missed the presentation at the Pictage Conference, you can listen (below) to a quick Podcast that recaps some of what I covered during the presentation.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Two Choices

In today's flailing economy we have two choices as small business owners:

1. Worry, worry, stop what we're doing because of what "might happen"
2. Plow through. Get Creative. Go where no other businesses dare to go. Capture a narrow niche. Get smart.

What will YOU do??

Friday, November 28, 2008

Make sure YOUR business is in the BLACK! DVD Sale!

I LOVE to hear great news like this (just in recently)...

Hi Liana,
You are a huge part of my growth as a fiscally responsible person. I gave myself your DVDs for Christmas last year, devoured them during down time, and am now enjoying a 60% growth in my business. Thanks for the inspiration.

I want EVERYONE to experience the same financial-freedom and success that comes when you work ON your business not just IN your business... that's why we created these DVDs in the first place.

THIS WEEKEND ONLY we're giving an additional $50 off ALL of our DVDs in addition to the sale price! ***CLICK HERE*** to take advantage of this and enter the code BLACK50 (or 1227893492) at checkout for the discount.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why you should NOT focus on the economy

Times are tough, sure, but what can you and I REALLY do about this economy? Nada!

I believe we all have a CHOICE. We can choose to push through and focus more than ever on how to make our business great: more efficient, more profitable, and find even more amazing things to offer.

OR we can whine about the economy day in and day out and live in fear.

Seth Godin has got a great post about this phenomena on his blog HERE. Never have I seen anyone so right about business and marketing (the NEW way of doing business and marketing) so I'd highly recommend adding this blog to your RSS reader.

"By focusing on the red box, the sore one, and ignoring the other elements of what makes our product or career worth marketing, we cause two problems. First, our attention does no good at all on the problem at hand, and second, the other boxes suffer.

The problem with whining is this: human beings like to be right. If you persuade yourself and your friends that times are really tough and that you're bound to fail, you'll probably do the things you need to do to make that true in the long run."

Today I am teaching a Photo Biz Boot Camp in Phoenix, AZ with a group of women entrepreneurs/photographers who have decided to NOT live in fear and DO something great for their business. Check back soon for updates!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Quicken Online is FREE now for PERSONAL Financial Tracking

If you've gone through my Profit Center DVD or Photo Biz Boot Camp you know that we need TWO financial tracking systems. A personal tool and a separate business tool.

It's VERY important to track both of these separately not only for tax and budgeting purposes but because we know that what is watched, improves. If we track our finances, we can make educated decisions quickly about giving, saving, and spending. Cash flow is not as much of an issue if we're smart about tracking and budgeting.


About a year ago I became a bet-tester for Quicken Online and have since paid $2.99/month to track my personal finances there this year. Quicken has been a great tool for me over the years and I was glad that they were coming out with an online version because the best (and I admit nicely designed) alternative, Mint, never worked right syncing with certain bank accounts... and I needed the real-deal for personal financial software.

Last week I received an email that we will no longer be charged and that the program is now free to use online! Yeah!

So if you're not signed up already, go do so and get your accounts all synced in so you can watch them closely. If you're looking for a tool to use for your BUSINESS, check out Quickbooks or Successware for photographers.

Happy tracking!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

What does the Recession mean for small business owners?

With so much discussion about the downturn of the economy lately, there has been a lot of talk about how this will effect small business owners and the photography industry.

Some observations and predictions I can contribute:

1. No matter how the economy is doing, people are still going to get married. So if you're a wedding photographer, this means that we're not really going to see too big of a slump.

2. This WILL however mean we need to work smarter, not harder. If 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years, times like these are certainly going to call for us to be even more agile and educated about the way we run our business... so we are the ones left standing.

3. Now is the BEST time to be in business for ourselves!! When people are getting laid off left and right and jobs are disappearing in Corporate America, there is MORE security in being a small business owner.

4. This nation has survived TOO long on a spend-not-save mentality and we're going to see this change when people get turned down for loans. This is both good AND bad. Good because people may start living within their means and should have MORE disposable income to spend on things like photography vs payments for a house they shouldn't be in the first place.

5. We're going to need to make it attractive for clients to buy. Sure, the banks and credit institutions are tightening up, but who says we cannot offer payment plans for our products and services?? I've been doing this for years and LOVE it that my clients can order what they want because they can pay for it in installments. I have to make sure my costs are covered up front, but then we also benefit from having a steady income from these installments.

6. Last, but certainly not least, we're going to have to become FINANCIALLY LITERATE. Yep, I said it. We need to understand how to run our business based on the numbers so we're sure we are charging correctly, not getting loaded down in debt/overhead, and have ample cash flow. I thought that this recession would put a halter on people signing up for the Photo Biz Boot Camp but it's great that people realize that now is THE most important time to focus on these things to make it through this.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Fresh Start / Goodbye :)

The FINAL thing we do at Boot Camp is to get out the calendar and make a schedule of all of the things we need to do throughout the year to continue with making changes in our business.

With so much on my plate these past two years, the thing that kept being pushed to the back of the "to-do" list is the evaluation of my websites. Yeah, all SIX+ of them! LOL.

Back in 2006 when liana PHOTOGRAPHY got a face lift, our web presence included a three-part site that includes my main portfolio site (, a site for all the information and extra things (, and the blog ( Out of TONS of amazing websites throughout the nation, it won Professional Photographers of America's AN-NE award for marketing excellence.

So now fast forward... two years later.. and WOW things have changed ... with me, my business, AND the industry in general. After spending weeks/months updating and tweaking these three sites, we've decided to TRASH the old and welcome in the new. It's time for something fresh, something that will allow me to post the hordes of information I want online, in one place, while keeping it simple!

Our identity and blog stays the same but we'll be hosting the new site (likely on and will soon be phased out (I'll soon no longer have LEHMAN as my last name! LOL) We also have a fun new business or two that may be launched in the next year or so... and one is NOT photo related at all (nor would I run it!!) FUN STUFF!!


Planning for and building a website is NO easy task. It takes web usability experience, design know-how, and technical expertise.

A lot of the materials need to be re-formatted for the new site. The above pic is how we're working on the organization and hierarchy of the site. LOTS of information to get on there -- and it needs to be intuitive to find. Check out the little scraps of paper we use to make it easy to play around with the different elements of the site :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Photo Biz Boot Camp UPDATES!!!

A few quick updates on our Photo Business Boot Camps:

- Registration closes soon for our Phoenix, Arizona and Fort Worth, Texas Boot Camps! Register now to get your spot! No need to email about if there are spots left or not...we'll take it off-line when it's closed out!

- Our Sydney, Australia Boot Camp will now be held in Newcastle, just about an hour outside of Sydney :)

- The Pennsylvania Boot Camp is almost full already. Book now to get your spot!!!

Also, don't forget about our Complete Business Makeover program which allows you to attend a Boot Camp for only $99/month :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How Easy Is it For Your Clients to Order?

Do you have your prices and business policies out there where clients can easily access them?

Can your clients click a few buttons to place their order, or is it a long, drawn-out process?

I think Papa Johns has it right. We've been ordering pizzas online for years now (soooo much easier than calling and being put on hold)... now you can TEXT in your order!!!


What can you do to make ordering much more user-friendly??

Monday, August 25, 2008

10 things to do BEFORE you quit your day job!

It took two years and a swift quick in the behind for me to loose the "day job" that I'd had gotten comfortable with.

Now I'm living the dream-life immersed in all the things I LOVE (photography, teaching, wedding stuff galore, lots and lots of travel to exotic locals, etc)... but I must say the saying "the grass is always greener" really does have some truth to it.

While my life may seem all wonderful, luxurious, and dream-like to some... the honest truth is there are sacrifices on both sides of the spectrum whether you're working for yourself or trudging through the 9-5 corporate America job.

Thanks to numerous recent emails about wanting to help me fulfill my #56 of my 101 to do in 1001 list.... I'm going to soon share my $0.02 on what an aspiring pro photographer should do to get started. If you want to read part ONE of this two-part post, scroll down for "The Grass Always Greener"

1. Be able to answer the questions: WHO you are, WHY you do what you do, and WHAT makes you different than the 1001 others in your market. If you do not know this or do not communicate it well to clients then you're going to have a hard time getting off the ground.

2. Make a personal budget and have a salary goal determined.
You're likely going to have to make some lifestyle changes in the first few years of business. If you're in any kind of debt, consider waiting to take "the jump" until after it is paid off and you have 3-6 months living expenses in an emergency savings fund. Read books like Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover and Your Money Counts for more info. Our personal salary budget calculator that comes with the Profit Center DVD walks you through this step too.

3. Get Educated. There are SOOO many more options out there today than when I got started. If you need to know about lighting go to a lighting seminar. If you need to know how to design albums or use photoshop, go to a Photoshop User training or shadow a designer. You can find out about what types of workshops are offered by checking out forums such as Open Source Photo and the Digital Wedding Forum. If you want to know about the BUSINESS side of things, come join us at a Photo Biz Boot Camp! Get training ONLY in the areas you plan to take on yourself. Do NOT try to do it all!!

4. Practice, Practice, Practice. Go out and shoot for FREE if necessary to gain maximum experience necessary to master your craft. Learn how to use your equipment don't just shoot on Auto!! Most photographers and others in the industry will welcome your help if you can pitch it to them as just that... an added hand during an important event, not a drain on their resources and time!

5. Understand ALL of your business expenses ahead of time. Insurance, equipment, licenses, supplies, adverting, accounting, your salary, employee salaries, and education are all part of what makes up business OVERHEAD that is part of the Big Equation. Image processing, storage, retouching, designing, prints, album binding, image hosting, transportation, time, and 2nd shooter fees are all part of the COST of SALES that make up another part of the Big Equation. You MUST know what these costs are, how they work together, and how to price and budget according to these costs if you want to make sure your business makes it past that 1- and 5- year mark. Most small businesses fail in the first year because they do not understand and account for these things and are not making any $$. Most business schools teach managerial accounting and small business finance or check out classes offered by PPA or our own Photo Biz Boot Camp/ Profit Center DVD to learn the "Numbers" as I so fondly call them :)

6. Be the Brand. Take your answers to #1 and develop a brand that you can stick with for a lifetime and possibly beyond. If you plan to have the business grow and have other staff to hire out, then make sure the brand allows for this. Hire professionals to do the designing and programing for you. If you want to see how involved the process is and how to go about developing your own distinct brand, we put all the info and resources about this on HERE.

7. Have an online presence.
Website, blog, links on popular wedding directories and associations so clients can find you and get all the information they need to hire you. Make it consistent with your brand too. As I am now in the process of planning my own wedding for 2009, I'm finding out how IMPORTANT this is to put as much info out there as possible to make it easy for clients to get the info and hire you. If you make it difficult for them to hire you, they won't.

8. Do TEST shoots to build your portfolio and client base. Before anyone paid me to do a High Fashion Bridal session, I had to be able to show them what it is and get the word out about it. The best way to do this? Do a TEST shoot... find someone (model, friend, potential client) that is willing to trade their time behind the camera for some free images. Have materials ready for them to pass on to friends and family and a referral system in place so it's easy to build that word-of-mouth network.

9. Build VOLUME and have jobs on the books BEFORE you take the plunge.
When I finally decided to take the jump back into full-time photography, I made a goal of booking 10 additional weddings before I could put in my two weeks. Let everyone in your network know that you're looking for the clients. Be proactive about calling back leads and finding the right clients.

10. Ask yourself the MOST important questions... why am I making this change, how will this make my lifestyle better, and what is my exit plan? If you think this will make you rich quick, give you infinite vacations, or let you retire early without much work put in... think again. It's a rough, very-saturated market and you've got to be good at both the ART of it AND the BUSINESS part in order to be run a successful small business in this industry. Know your true motives before you make any big changes and have those goals in place. Have an end in mind before you start!

I'm sure there is SOOO much more that I could say and would love to hear the advice of others who have been through this as well.


The Grass is Always Greener

It took two years and a swift quick in the behind for me to loose the "day job" that I'd had gotten comfortable with.

Now I'm living the dream-life immersed in all the things I LOVE (photography, teaching, wedding stuff galore, lots and lots of travel to exotic locals, etc)... but I must say the saying "the grass is always greener" really does have some truth to it.

While my life may seem all wonderful, luxurious, and dream-like to some... the honest truth is there are sacrifices on both sides of the spectrum whether you're working for yourself or trudging through the 9-5 corporate America job.

Thanks to numerous recent emails about wanting to help me fulfill my #56 of my 101 to do in 1001 list.... I'm going to soon share my $0.02 on what an aspiring pro photographer should do to get started. Before I go there, today I'll share some of my pros and cons since I've been on both sides of the spectrum already...

The 9-5 Corporate America Job


1. You actually know what your salary is going to be and can budget accordingly
2. You usually have a job description and know what is expected of you
3. Free training and education!!
4. Benefits, benefits, benefits!!
5. 9-5. Exactly. Generally speaking, you're not working 15-hour days. You can go home and NOT think about work for a while. No weekend work usually.
6. You have a team and infrastructure to lean on when you need guidance, education, and help.

1. The Silly Politics
2. Generally, these jobs are NOT for the creative, free-spirited types. Things are pretty cut and dry.
3. The feeling that someone "owns" you for the 9-5 period and for most jobs your expected to sit at a desk and BE THERE for that time even if you're an efficient worker and have completed everything you can for that time.
4. Only having 1-4 weeks vacation time.
5. Boringgggg. Yes, the routine tasks get old after 150 times. It's rare to find a Corporate America job that doesn't have the mundane routine stuff as part of your job description.
6. Job security is a thing of the past. With the economy as it is... it's easy to feel like you're walking on egg shells to keep in good favor with the big bosses and NOT be the first one to be cut when things turn bad.

The Wedding Industry Small Business Owner

1. It can be lots of fun!
2. Infinite room for creativity
3. You can have as much or as little vacation time as you want!
4. You're your own boss!
5. While the rest of the world is locked down to working 9-5, we get to make our own hours!
6. You have more opportunities to make more money and produce passive income
7. If you hire a good accountant and make smart financial decisions, you get taxed less!

1. No benefits or free education/training. Expect to pay $100-500+ per month for lesser benefits than you'd get at the Corporate job and pay $800-1500+ per each 2-3 day training.
2. Most small business owners work MORE than 40 hours per week. Forget 9 hour workdays... try 16 hr days for the first few years while you get your business up and running.
3. The market is SUPER saturated and the profit margins are not huge. Don't expect to make a lot of $$ in this industry. The average photographer makes less than a school teacher (PPA Studio Benchmark Survey Report, 2005)
4. No infrastructure. While it's great you get to be your own boss and hire who you want, it's difficult to do everything yourself and find good help.
5. Booooring. Yes, even the self-employed small business owners get stuck with the mundane every-day tasks. You can hire someone to do them for you but even the creative tasks may seem mundane when done repeatedly over time.
6. You still end up spending most of your time behind a computer.
7. We work weekends while the rest of the world relaxes... plus most workdays!

Now those are just a few.... I'd love to hear from those of you who can add in their experience on one side or another. Comment away!

Next up: 10 Things To Do BEFORE You Quit Your Day Job


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What REALLY Matters

This just in -- from one of my all-time favorite blogs to indulge in every day: The Simple Dollar. The author, Trent, has got such great APPLICABLE advice as it pertains to finances and in today's entry he hits on a subject near and dear to me... the Bucket List (what I put together in the form of 101 in 1001.)

"Experiences are something that’s easy to overlook in the cut and dried world of personal finance. Tight budgets and careful saving rarely leave room for powerful and life-altering experiences, so we tend to tuck them away, intending to do them someday.

When we look back on our lives, however, it is the experiences that we remember. We don’t think fondly about that iPod we bought in 2003; we think about the night we danced in the backyard with our spouse under the moonlight. We don’t recall all of the things we fritter our money away on, but we remember the big moments, those experiences that changed our lives."

This was a great reminder that I need to update my own "Bucket List" and BHAGs that I teach about often. It's actually the first thing we do at Boot Camp and via the Profit Center DVD. After all, what's the sense in making money for money's sake?? When we have an EXPERIENCE to work towards, life is so much sweeter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Interview on F-Stop Beyond Podcast: July is for Entrepreneurs!

A few weeks ago I had an awesome opportunity to chat with Ron Dawson of Cinematic Studios for the F-Stop Beyond Podcast. It turns out Ron went to the same high school (and was valedictorian) as my friend Bryant from church ...and he and his wife are also huge fans of my secret addiction So You Think You Can Dance because they used to dance too!


This month is all about creative entrepreneurs and you can actually listen to a new podcast each week which is a SUPER resource for photographers and other types of entrepreneurs even. My friend DJ is the week after mine so be sure to check out his interview too!!

Anyways... there's plenty of chit-chat on the podcast so CHECK IT OUT HERE or you can listen via the player below :)


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Announcing Photo Biz Boot Camp in 9 Cities !!!

I'm so excited for this up-coming "tour" as I like to call it of Photo Biz Boot Camps!!! There are so many gracious studios out there helping me make this happen so we can make it easy for photographers all across America and even in AUSTRALIA able to attend a Boot Camp.

We're introducing a new program too this month that gives studios wanting to attend a Boot Camp an AWESOME deal and hooks them up with lots of extras so they can continue with change and info-year round. Only $99/month and that includes a Boot Camp!! Click the picture below for more info.

Complete Business Makeover


October 19-21, 2008 : Phoenix, AZ
October 22-24, 2008 : Fort Worth, TX
November 11-13, 2008 : Lancaster, PA
December 2-4, 2008 : Hickory, NC (Charlotte/Ashville/Winston-Salem)
December 9-11, 2008 : Chicago, IL
January 25-27, 2009 : Norcal, CA (San Francisco)
January 28-30, 2009 : Vancouver, WA (Portland)

April/May 2009 : Melbourne, Australia (exact dates TBD/posted no later than 9/1/08)
April/May 2009 : Sydney, Australia (exact dates TBD/posted no later than 9/1/08)

You can ***CLICK HERE*** to find out more and sign up ASAP as they are super duper small (intense) classes and are already booking up!!

I can't wait to meet all of you out there and get a taste of some places I've yet to be in the US and abroad!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Money Answer Book

I posted earlier about Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover... and here is yet another gem from this money-guru: the Money Answer Book.

It's small, it's concise. It answers all of the important questions about everyday finances. Of course a lot of it has been said before but the format of this book makes it a super quick and easy read for those that may be intimidated (or just lack the time/focus) of reading one of the thicker books in his collection.


I'll go ahead and share two of my own personal take-aways (yeah, stuff I've already known but am actually focusing on during this point in my life):

Take Away One: Buy Used Vehicles with CASH

"Americans have a 'love-fest' going on with their cars. Where else can you find people flat broke, living paycheck to paycheck, with two vehicles in their driveway less than two years old?

The average monthly car payment is $378. If you only have one car payment you're shelling out almost $5,000 in one year. Investing $378 per month in a good growth stock mutual fund from age 25 to 65 will be worth more than 4.4 million!! A one-time investment of $25,000, leaving it sitting for 30 years (same terms) would net you more than $495,000. Hope you like your SUV!!"

Advice: Buy a car 2-3 years old with CASH instead of financing a new vehicle. Ramsey stresses the point that cars loose most of their value in the first two years so only the SUPER RICH should buy new cars.

I grew up thinking only new cars were good because I never knew much about maintenance or cars in general but my car is 5 years old now (it was paid off early) and it's still runs like new! I figure if I can keep a car like-new than other more car-knowledgeable folks must have amazing 1-2 year old cars! Plus thousands of leased-cars are turned in each year often with very low mileage and in superb condition.

Action Plan: I really do plan on driving my current paid-off trustworthy Honda for as long as I can (hopefully another 5 years!?) but in the meantime I'm going to build up that cash-for-car fund so when the time DOES come that it needs some TLC and/or I need to throw in the towel and purchase another ... then I can pay cash for something pre-owned.

Take Away Two: Invest in ROTH IRAs

"Because the Roth IRA growth is tax-free, you'll get to keep all the money in your Roth IRA"

Of course, the benefits of Traditional IRAs vs ROTH IRAs may be different for individuals (for example if you are not self-employed and your employer matches your investment aka Free Money... it may be worth investing in the company IRA before the ROTH).... but in the case for most of us investing in a ROTH IRA is a win-win because it's likely we're going to be in a higher tax bracket as we get older and closer to withdrawal time it would be beneficial to pay taxes up-front instead of on a huge lump-sum later.

The great thing is the government is increasing the amount we're allowed to invest each year so in 2008 we can put up to $5,000 in a ROTH IRA as long as we've made at least that much income. You can even get someone a ROTH IRA as a gift... that could eventually grow to hundreds of thousands of dollars if they leave the $ in there! Now THAT is the gift that keeps on giving!!

Action Plan: Finish rainy-day emergency fund then fully-fund a ROTH-IRA this year and every year following at the maximum amount. Research and think about gifting ROTH-IRAs vs giving gifts that depreciate and do not hold value :)

Well... there's MUCH much more in this little book packed with straight-forward $ advice.... so pick up a copy for yourself and pass it around when you're done!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Back in Business!!

Thank you everyone for the wonderful support and recommendations as we went through through all of our server-issues this week!!

In the end, our best choice to switch to is Lexiconn. It came recommended, is compatible with what we needed, and has some added tools that we'll be able to use with our existing shopping cart. I was told they are a very-expensive, roll-the-red-carpet-out, service-oriented host. I'm happy to report that the new host is everything I was told they would be and somehow ninja-ed their way in to take hold of my files on my old server and got everything up and running again in a matter of 24 hours or so!

Needless to say... the blog, the site, the email, and the shopping cart are all up and running again... yeah!! Thank you for your patience over this past week and please... if you sent an email that has not gotten through/gotten a response.. please resend as it may not have reached us when all of this was going on :)

Now back to fun blogging...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Demon Web Service Providers: Startlogic

It's seldom if ever I believe in posting issues up on the net regarding customer service and issues with a particular company. I'm afraid though that it is time for a fair-warning.


You may have noticed that:

-I've been MIA
-My regular blog is down
-My sites give "server errors" and "404" and "403" errors
-My shopping cart is down so I cannot get you all products you're requesting (don't worry-- it's not you!!)
-My email has not been working


Well, for the past week (yes, it always starts when I'm out of town on business) I've been dealing with my Demon of a Service Provider,

Years ago I would have given them glowing reviews but this past year has been filled with nothing but trouble and lost work time because of issues on their end. It makes you realize just how much we rely on companies like this to do what they promise and we often operate our business in the trust that they will complete their end of the deal. This is hardly the case for Startlogic. This is the third week in the past year where I've spent 20+ hours on with Tech Support with no resolution or follow-through on their end. The crazy thing is they are ranked up as #1 on many of the major ranking sites.

Earlier today Sara (who's been here while all of this is taking place) says "you really do have demons after you" and I said I felt like I was being attacked this week. Funny thing is we found this site that reviews other's experience with startlogic and someone quotes "Now I know that there is only ONE startlogic experience. The experience of waking up knowing a demon has your site, your countless hours of work, in its hands. If you are the type of person who would let a convicted child molestor take care of your children then is your ideal host. "

Soooo... I say my prayers, rally up the legal support, file my BBB report, and pray some more....

Oh yes, and if ANYONE has recomendations on hosts that do not give you the run-around and have servers and employees that actually work FOR you not against you, I'd LOVE LOVE LOVE the recs!!

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