The relationship between time, money, and happiness ~ Get Rich Slowly

The older I get, the more I’m convinced that time is money (and money is time). We’re commonly taught that money is a “store of value”. But what does “store of value” actually mean? It’s a repository of past effort that can be applied to future purchases. Really, money is a store of time. (Well, a store of productive time, anyhow.)

Now, having made this argument, I’ll admit that time and money aren’t exactly the same thing. Money is a store of time, sure, but the two concepts have some differences too.

For instance, time is linear. After one minute or one day has passed, it’s irretrievable. You cannot reclaim it. If you waste an hour, it’s gone forever. If you waste (or lose) a dollar, however, it’s always possible to earn another dollar. Time marches forward but money has no “direction”.

More importantly, time is finite. Money is not. Theoretically, your income and wealth have no upper bound. On the other hand, each of us has about seventy (maybe eighty) years on this earth. If you’re lucky, you’ll live for 1000 months. Only a very few of us will live 5000 weeks. Most of us will live between 25,000 and 30,000 days.

I’ve always loved this representation of a “life in weeks” of a typical American from the blog Wait But Why:

Your Life in Weeks

If you allow yourself to conduct a thought experiment in which time and money are interchangeable, you can reach some startling conclusions.

Wealth and Work

When I began to fully grasp the relationship between money and time, my first big insight was that wealth isn’t necessarily an abundance of money — it’s an abundance of time. Or potential time. When you accumulate a lot of money, you actually accumulate a large store of time to use however you please.

And, in fact, this seems to be one of the primary reasons the Financial Independence movement is gaining popularity. Financial Independence — having saved enough that you’re no longer required to work for money — provides the promise that you can use your time in whichever way you choose. When I attend FI gatherings, I ask folks what motivates them. Almost everyone offers some variation on the theme: “I want to be able to do what I want, when I want.”

To me, one of the huge ironies of modern society is that so many people spend so much time to accumulate so much Stuff — yet never manage to set aside anything for the future. Why is this?

In an article on Wealth and Work, Thomas J. Elpel explores the complicated relationship between our ever-increasing standard of living and the effort required to achieve that level of comfort.

Ultimately you are significantly wealthier than before, but you are also working harder too. Nobody said you had to pay for oil lamps and oil or books and freshly laundered clothes, but you would feel deprived if you didn’t, so you work a little harder to give your family all the good things that life has to offer.

Increasing Wealth & Decreasing Costs

It’s a catch-22. You work more to have more money to buy more Stuff…but because you have so much Stuff, you need more money, which means you have to work more. It’s almost as if the more physical things you possess, the less time you have.

How do you escape this vicious cycle? There are two ways, actually.

Spend Less, Live More

The first (most obvious) way to remove yourself from this hedonic treadmill is to deliberately reduce your spending so that it’s below the level needed to maintain your lifestyle. As I’ve argued before at Get Rich Slowly, frugality buys freedom.

When you reduce your lifestyle, it takes less time to fund it. If you’re earning $50,000 per year take-home and spending all $50,000, you leave no margin for error. If something goes wrong — you lose your job, inflation skyrockets — you’re in a bind. Plus, you don’t give yourself a chance to seize unexpected opportunities!

But if you reduce your spending to $40,000 per year, you give yourself options. You can choose to continue earning $50,000 and bank the difference (building a store of time) or you can choose to work less today (taking the advantage of the time savings immediately).

Spending less also helps fund your future. Learning to live with a “lesser” lifestyle means you don’t need to save as much for retirement. If you spend $50,000 per year, for example, then you need roughly $1.25 million saved before you can retire. But if you decrease spending to $40,000 per year, your target drops to around $1 million.

It takes much less work to fund an ongoing lifestyle of $40,000 per year than it does to maintain a lifestyle that costs $50,000 per year. And if you’re in the fortunate position where you can slash your lifestyle from, say, $120,000 per year to $30,000 per year, you can really reduce the time you spend working.

Buying Time Promotes Happiness

But what if you like your lifestyle and don’t want to cut back? Or what if you’re not able to cut back? There’s still a way to use the relationship between time and money to increase your sense of well-being.

Last year, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal published an interesting article that declared buying time promotes happiness. The authors conducted a series of experimental studies to look at the link between time, money, and happiness. Their conclusion?

Around the world, increases in wealth have produced an unintended consequence: a rising sense of time scarcity. We provide evidence that using money to buy time can provide a buffer against this time famine, thereby promoting happiness.

Using large, diverse samples…we show that individuals who spend money on time-saving services report greater life satisfaction. A field experiment provides causal evidence that working adults report greater happiness after spending money on a timesaving purchase than on a material purchase.

Together, these results suggest that using money to buy time can protect people from the detrimental effects of time pressure on life satisfaction.

If you want to improve your quality of life, don’t use your money to buy Stuff, use it to relieve “time pressure”. Instead of buying a fancy car, purchase time-saving devices. Hire a housekeeper or a yard-maintenance company. Maybe consider a meal-delivery service.

Interestingly, the effects of “buying time” have the greatest impact on folks who have less money: “We observed a stronger relationship between buying time and life satisfaction among less-affluent individuals,” the authors write.

Finding Balance

My biggest takeaway from thinking about the relationship between time and money is this: When you spend less, you can work less. In a very real way, frugality buys time. But on a deeper level, frugality buys freedom — financial freedom, freedom from worry, freedom to spend your time however you choose.

When you treat time as money (and money as time), you can better evaluate how to allocate your dollars and your hours. When you know how much your time is worth, you can decide when it makes sense to “outsource” specific jobs.

Ultimately, there’s a balance to be had, and that balance is different for each of us. You have to decide how much time you’re willing to spend on present comfort and how much time you want to bank for the future. I believe there’s no single right answer to this dilemma.

What about you? How do you view the relationship between time, money, and happiness? Do you have some examples from your own life of buying time in order to improve your happiness? What balance have you arrived at — and how did you get there?

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18 useful financial rules of thumb ~ Get Rich Slowly

Financial Rules of ThumbAfter twelve years of reading and writing about money, I’ve come to love financial rules of thumb.

Financial rules of thumb provide helpful shortcuts for making quick calculations and decisions. You don’t always have time (or want to take the time) to create elaborate spreadsheets when choosing a course of action. In these cases, it’s nice to have some rough guidelines you can rely on.

You’ve probably heard of the “rule of 72”, for example. This shortcut says that if you divide 72 by a particular rate of return, you’ll get the number of years it’ll take to double your money. If your savings account yields 4%, say, it will take about 18 years for your nest egg to increase by 100%. But if you were able to earn 12% on your investment, that money would double in six years.

Like all rules of thumb, the rule of 72 isn’t precise. It doesn’t give an exact answer but a ballpark figure. Financial rules of thumb don’t always hold true. But they’re true enough for us to make loose plans based on them.

I have some engineer friends who’d get tense at this sort of sloppy guesswork, but most of the rest of us are happy to trade a bit of precision for speed. That’s what rules of thumb are all about!

The trick, of course, is knowing which rules of thumb to use. Most are handy, but some common guidelines do more harm than good.

Rules Gone Wild

In the past, you’ve probably seen my rant about some of my most-hated financial rules of thumb. Let’s look at three things I think conventional wisdom gets wrong (and what I believe are better alternatives).

How much should you save for retirement?
For instance, I get frustrated when I hear financial advisers push the idea that you should base your retirement savings on 70% of your income. Instead of estimating your retirement needs from your income, it makes far more sense to base them on spending. Your spending reflects your lifestyle; your income doesn’t.

I think a better rule of thumb for determining retirement needs is this: When estimating how much you’ll need to save for retirement, assume you’ll spend as much in the future as you do now. Use 100% of your current expenses to calculate your retirement spending. (And if you want to build in a safety margin, base your future needs on 110% of your current spending.)

How much should you spend on a house?
As I mentioned last week, another rule of thumb that makes me cranky is this common guideline espoused by all sectors of the homebuying industry: “Buy as much home as you can afford.” No no no no no! Of all financial rules of thumb, this is probably the worst. It’s certainly one of the most prevalent. This is how folks end up house poor, chained to a mortgage they resent.

Lenders quantify this guideline by saying your housing payments should be nor more than 28% or 33% or 41% of your income. But, as David Bach wrote in The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner, “You should generally assume that the amount the bank or mortgage company is willing to loan you is more than you should borrow.” A better rule of thumb? Spend as little on housing as possible. Spending less than 25% of your net income is best — less than 20% is even better.

How much life insurance should you carry?
A third rule that bugs me is the one for determining how much life insurance you should buy. Different experts give different answers. Some say your policy should cover five times your annual income. Others say ten times. And Suze Orman recommends 20 times annual income needs.

The truth is that not everyone needs life insurance. Like all insurance, it’s designed to prevent financial catastrophes. You only need it if other people — like a spouse or children — would face financial hardship when you die. If you don’t have kids, if your spouse has a good income, or you have substantial savings, then life insurance isn’t a necessity.

Even if you do need life insurance, you probably don’t need to carry as much as your insurance agent is willing to sell you. To find out the amount that’s right for you, check out the Life Insurance Needs Calculator from the non-profit Life Happens organization. (How much life insurance should I carry? According to this calculator, I shouldn’t have any at all. And I don’t.)

Stock Numbers

Useful Financial Rules of Thumb

Financial rules of thumb usually aren’t this bad. In fact, most are useful. Here are eighteen of my favorites.

  1. When estimating income, $1 an hour in wage is equivalent to $2000 per year in pre-tax earnings. The reverse is also true: $2000 per year in salary is equal to $1 an hour in hourly wage. (This rule works because the average worker spends roughly 2000 hours per year on the job.)
  2. How wealthy should you be? According to the authors of The Millionaire Next Door, the following “wealth formula” can tell you if you’re on target: Divide your age by ten, then multiply by your annual gross income. Your net worth should be equal to this number (less any inheritances). So, if you’re 40 and make $50,000 per year, your net worth should be $200,000. If you have less than half the expected amount, you’re an “under-accumulator of wealth”. If you have twice the target, you’re a “prodigious accumulator of wealth”. (Note that the authors are well aware that this formula doesn’t work well for young people; it’s meant to be used by folks nearing retirement age.)
  3. On average, each dollar an American spends represents about $2.50 of after-tax value in ten years or $10 in thirty years. (If you live outside the U.S., the consequences of spending that dollar are probably even greater.) This is due to two reasons: taxes and compounding. When you buy something, you spend after-tax dollars. On average, Americans have to earn $1.33 to have $1.00 left over.
  4. Inflation is the silent killer of wealth. In the U.S., inflation has averaged 3.18% over the past hundred years. A lot of folks figure a 3% inflation rate when making money calculations. I think it’s safer to assume 3.5% — or even 4% — average inflation in the future.
  5. Historically, U.S. stocks have earned long-term real returns (meaning inflation-adjusted returns) of about 7%. Bonds have long-term real returns of around 2.5%. Gold and real estate have long-term real returns of close to 1%.
  6. If you withdraw about four percent of your savings each year, your wealth snowball will maintain its value against inflation. During market downturns, you might have to withdraw as little as three percent. If times are flush, you might allow yourself five percent. But four percent is generally safe. (For more on safe withdrawal rates, check out this article from the Mad Fientist.)
  7. Based on the previous rule of thumb, there’s a quick way to check whether early retirement is within your reach. Multiply your current annual expenses by 25. If the result is less than your savings, you’ve achieved financial independence — you can retire early. If the product is greater than your savings, you still have work to do. (If you’re conservative or have low risk tolerance, multiply your annual expenses by 30. If you’re aggressive and/or willing to take on greater risk, multiple by 20.)
  8. Building on the above, Mr. Money Mustache’s shockingly simple math behind early retirement gives us a useful rule of thumb for determining how long you’ll need to save before you’re financially independent. Figure out your current saving rate (or profit margin, if you prefer). Subtract this number from 60. Roughly speaking — and assuming you’ve started from a zero net worth — that’s how long you’ll need to work before your nest egg is big enough to support you in retirement. (Note that this rule breaks down at saving rates over 40%. If you save a lot, subtract from 70.)
  9. Joe from Stacking Benjamins likes what he calls the “penny approximation”: Assuming a safe withdraw rate of roughly four percent, every $100 you save gives you one penny per day in perpetuity. Once you stack enough Benjamins you have enough pennies to sustain you forever. If you change your own brake pads and save $200, thats two cents a day for the rest of your life because you avoided paying a mechanic.
  10. The Balanced Money FormulaI hate detailed budgets because they bog people down. Instead, I’m a fan of budget frameworks that focus more on the Big Picture. My favorite budget framework is the Balanced Money Formula: Spend no more than 50% of your after-tax income on Needs, put at least 20% into savings (including debt reduction), and spend the rest (around 30%) on Wants. This is a great beginner budget, but it’s also useful for transitioning to the mindset of Financial Independence. If you decide early retirement is a goal, then part of your Wants spending becomes additional savings.
  11. If you own your home, it’s wise to set aside money for maintenance and repairs. Each year, contribute 1% of your home’s current value to a separate account. If you don’t spend the money, keep it there for future remodeling and improvements.
  12. Is it better to buy or to rent? The price-to-rent ratio is a useful rule of thumb for making this decision. Find two similar places, one for sale and one for rent. Divide the sale price of the one by the annual rent for the other. The result is the P/R ratio. Say you find a $200,000 house for sale in a nice neighborhood, and a similar home for rent on the next block for $1000 per month, which is $12,000 per year. Dividing $200,000 by $12,000, you get a P/R ratio of 16.7. If the P/R ratio is low, it’s better to buy. If the price-to-rent ratio is over 15, it’s probably better to rent.
  13. How much does it cost to raise a child? As a rule of thumb, budget $10,000 per child per year. That’s not quite a quarter of a million dollars per kid, but it’s close.
  14. If you get a windfall, use 1% to treat yourself. (Or maybe 2%, tops.) Put the rest in a safe place and ignore it for six months. After you’ve had time to think about it, then take action. So, if you inherit $100,000 from Aunt Marge, only allow yourself a $1000 splurge. Stash the remaining $99,000 someplace you won’t be tempted to spend it.
  15. To approximate a new vehicle’s five-year cost of ownership (in monthly terms), double the price tage and divide by 60. Looking at a brand-new Mini Cooper ? Double that $30,000 sticker price to get $60,000, then divide by 60. Is it really worth $1000 per month to get rid of your crummy Ford Focus?
  16. The standard rule of thumb is to save at least 10% of your income. I think a better goal is to aim for 20% — and more is better. Financial guru Liz Weston says that if you’re young, you should follow this guideline: “Save 10% for basics, 15% for comfort, 20% to escape.”
  17. Nobody agrees how much you should set aside for an emergency fund. Even the experts offer advice ranging from $1000 up to 12 months of expenses. (The most common suggestions range from three to six months of expenses.) One clever rule of thumb to determine how much you should have set aside: Your emergency fund should cover X months of expenses, where X is the current unemployment rate. In other words, because the U.S. unemployment is about 4% right now, you should aim to have enough money in the bank to cover four months of expenses.
  18. According to Consumer Reports, wen you’re faced with the repair of an appliance (such as a refrigerator or washing machine), you should buy a new one if the appliance is more than eight years old (or if the repair would cost more than half what it would take to buy a replacement).

It’s important to remember that rules of thumb aren’t set in stone. They’re guidelines. They’re meant to help you make quick evaluations, not actual life-changing decisions. Financial rules of thumb are a starting point. Start with them, then adjust for your individual goals and situation.

Other Useful Financial Guidelines

Strictly speaking, rules of thumb deal with numbers. Still, there are a lot of non-numeric guidelines that I think are useful to know. If you’ve done any reading about personal finance, for example, you’ve probably heard the admonition, “Pay yourself first.” While not strictly a rule of thumb, this guideline is very similar.

Here are some other useful financial guidelines:

  • The more you learn, the more you earn. In the U.S., education has a greater impact on work-life earnings than any other demographic factor. Your age, race, gender, and location all influence what you earn, but nothing matters more than what you know.
  • Bank a raise. When you get a salary bump, don’t increase your spending. Stay the course and put the added income into savings.
  • Always take the employer match on the 401(k).
  • Never touch your retirement savings — except for retirement.
  • Never co-sign on a loan. (Ever.)
  • Avoid paying interest on anything that loses value. It’s okay to finance a home or a college education but avoid taking out a loan on a car.
  • Speaking of cars: When you buy a vehicle, buy used or buy new and plan to drive it for at least ten years. (Do both and you’ll save even more!)
  • Don’t mess with the IRS. When it comes to taxes, don’t try to cheat. Pay what you owe. Claim all the deductions you deserve, but don’t try to stretch things.
  • In general, save an emergency fund first; pay off high-interest debt second; and begin investing (at the same time you pay down remaining debt) last.
  • It almost always makes more sense (and cents) to repair your old car than to buy a new one.
  • If you’re not willing to pay cash for it, then it doesn’t make sense to buy it on credit. (I have a friend whose guiding principle is: “If I wouldn’t buy five, why would I buy one?” Similar idea taken to an extreme.)
  • Save for your own retirement before saving for your children’s college education. They can get loans for school. You can’t get loans for retirement.

Now it’s your turn. What rules of thumb did I miss? Do you disagree with any of those I suggested? What are some of your favorite rules of thumb?

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Did moving to the suburbs save me money?

When Kim and I moved last summer from our riverfront condo to this country cottage on the outskirts of Portland, one of my primary aims was to slash our spending on both housing and food.

Although we owned our condo free and clear, living there still cost us roughly $1200 per month. Plus, there were the added costs that came from living so close to bars and restaurants. Sure, we didn’t have to eat out as often as we did — we understand that was a choice — but we enjoyed exploring what the neighborhood had to offer.

Well, I’ve now had time to gather enough data to determine whether we were able to achieve this goal, to cut our monthly costs. I’m pleased to say the answer is “yes”! But for a few years, this gain is going to be completely negated by our massive home remodeling project.

Let’s look at some numbers.

Saving on Housing

To start, here’s how my monthly housing costs have changed:

  • During the first four months of 2017, we paid an average of $1169.91 to live in our condo. Of that, $644.65 went to our HOA and utilities. The remaining $525.27 was spent on taxes and condo insurance.
  • During the first four months of 2018, we paid an average of $472.55 to live on our house. Of that, $187.91 went to utilities and $284.64 went to taxes and insurance.

Before we made the move, I estimated that it’d cost us about $500 per month for housing expenses. That was a good guess. My expenses are actually a little lower than that. And because Kim is paying me $500 per month to “vest” into ownership of the house, my net monthly housing costs are actually minus $21.45. I’m making money by living here! (Haha. I wish.)

Food for Less

Meanwhile, our eating habits have also changed. We don’t go out to eat nearly as much as we used to. When we do dine out, we choose cheaper places. (Our current neighborhood isn’t quite as hip as our old neighborhood.) Last night, for instance, we hit up our favorite pub. It cost us $54, and that’s expensive for this neck of the woods. In our previous neighborhood, we’d often hit a hundred dollars when dining out.

Here’s how my food spending has changed:

  • During the first four months of 2017, I spent an average of $568.42 per month on groceries and $554.14 on restaurants. That’s a total of $1169.91 per month on food. Holy cats! (And that doesn’t include money that Kim paid for groceries…)
  • During the first four months of 2018, I spent an average of $477.33 per month on groceries and $332.01 per month on restaurants. That’s a total of $809.34 per month on food.

Let me be the first to point out that I spend a lot of money on food. I acknowledge that. This wasn’t a weak spot in my budget back when I started Get Rich Slowly in 2006, but it certainly is today!

That said, moving to the suburbs did indeed help me spend less on food. My grocery bills aren’t down as much as I’d expected — only about 16% — but that’s still saving me nearly $100 per month. Meanwhile, my restaurant spending has been cut nearly in half! Overall, my monthly food budget has declined by 28% (which is more than $300 per month).

Creating Cash Flow

When we were planning for our move last spring, I wrote that I hoped my cash flow would improve by $1200 to $1300 per month. With the reduction in housing and food spending, I’ve saved an average of $1010.58 per month so far in 2018. When you add in Kim’s monthly $500 “mortgage” payment to me, my cash flow has improved by $1510.58.

That’s outstanding!

“But wait, J.D.” you may be saying. “Have other aspects of your budget ballooned because of the move? Are you driving more, for instance? And what about your outlandish home improvement projects? You’ve already admitted that you’ve spent roughly $100,000 on renovations since moving in!”

I am spending about twice as much on fuel as I was before. During the first four months of 2017, I spent an average of $25.79 per month on fuel. So far in 2018, I’ve averaged $56.69 per month on fuel. Other than that, however, the move has had no adverse effect on my finances…except for the very expensive remodeling projects we’ve been doing.

The Big, Fat Elephant in the Room

I haven’t included the remodeling costs in the above numbers because they’re not a regular expense. Trust me: I’m perfectly aware of how much I’m spending on home improvement, and it’s caused me plenty of anxiety. But those costs aren’t recurring, so I don’t include them when calculating average monthly expenses.

What I have been doing is some mathematics gymnastics:

  • My cash flow has improved by $1510.58 per month.
  • Our pre-deck (and hot tub) home improvement costs totalled $92,934.61. Of that, $59,000 came from selling the condo, which means we’ve had $33,934.61 in un-budgeted home improvements since moving in.
  • We don’t have a final tally on the deck and hot tub project (and won’t for several weeks), but I expect it to be close to that $33,934.61.

Based on these numbers, we can calculate how long it will take to recover the remodeling costs (compared with having remained in the condo). Dividing our $33,934.61 excess costs by my $1510.58 per month improved cash flow, we find that it’ll take 22.5 months — just under two years — to compensate. And, of course, it’ll take roughly the same amount of time to compensate for the deck and hot tub.

Translation for non-nerds: Moving from the condo to this house saved me just over $1500 per month. This savings has been temporarily negated by all of the home projects. But after about four years — assuming we find no further problems — we’ll pass the break-even point. At that time, the move will become a financial win!

Fingers crossed, my friends. Fingers crossed.

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Prepare Now or Perish: 5 Fascinating Jobs of the Future

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the buggy industry went through a crisis. A new invention was about to take the jobs of hundreds of thousands of craftsmen and parts manufacturers. And the horse breeding industry was about to take a hit as well.

It was the end of the Industrial Revolution. Machines continually replaced both skilled and unskilled laborers. The car was about to do it again.

Protests happened, but the juggernaut could not be stopped. While it took 50 years to completely displace the horse and buggy, it happened. But the advent of the car created a whole slew of new jobs from mechanics to body repairmen to car electricians.

We’re in the midst of a similar revolution. Automation is disassembling jobs. Even writers could find themselves out of a job someday because of AI and machine learning.

But with such change comes new things. New jobs will arise and if we’re smart, we’ll acquire new skills and pivot gracefully. Here are some fascinating jobs already on the horizon.

1. Space Habitat Design

Engineers are great at making things that last. They aren’t so good at making livable spaces. That’s where architects come in.

There will always be a need for architects and while brick and mortar might not be feasible in space, the concepts of comfort and aesthetics will never go away. Jeff Bezos would probably agree. He wants to put one trillion people in space.

And he’s put a lot of money into doing so. I’m willing to bet that his company Blue Origin will soon need both designers and architects who specialize in space living. Start studying now!

2. People on Demand and On the Go

The autonomous vehicle revolution is on its way. But what will people do with all that time they are no longer paying attention to the road?

If you’re smart, you’ll use your time wisely. This means getting stuff done.

Whole new industries will crop up around the autonomous car industry. We’ll see people basically living on the move. And jobs will crop up as well.

Imagine getting your haircut on your commute. How about a doctor’s appointment or even a violin lesson. The infrastructure for experts and people on demand is already there with things like Uber and AirBnB.

Maybe you’ll be the first person to create a professional share business. Let me know if you do, I might want in on it.

3. Autonomous Car Traffic Controller

It might be a while before cars can fully govern their own traffic patterns. What if the President comes to town and traffic needs to be diverted? Unless we invent the Fate Super-Computer soon, AI and machine learning just aren’t ready.

Just like airports with flight traffic controllers, cities will need people to monitor car traffic. Cars will possibly communicate with a central system in the city and someone will sit behind a console and respond if something goes wrong.

This is a short-term solution to the problem of autonomous vehicles in large cities. AI and machine learning will eventually take over.

4. Man-Machine Teaming Manager

Alan Turing understood that machines will never think like us. They may be able to approximate human learning and speech patterns, but they won’t ever be human. Thus we will need people who understand machines, especially once machine learning gets better.

In the future, we will no longer “program” our computers. We will teach them things much like we train a dog or a young human. But once they learn, they take over the tasks taught.

This means that machines will be capable of making and completing their own goals much like a human employee. If you’ve ever worked in either a Quality Assurance or HR department, you’re probably imagining the headache. How do you manage both machines and humans working independently in the same space?

What if the machines perform way better than the human? What if the machine develops its own goals that supersede the goals of the company? What if they build Skynet? (Just checking if you’re awake out there.)

You will need an expert in both machine learning and how learned machines interact in a human environment. You will need someone to help you set up a plan and set up future interactions and expectations for machine-human collaboration.

5. Human Designer

While we watch countless films and TV episodes about androids that look like us, you might look for a brand or logo etched into the DNA of actual humans some day. That’s right. The world of Gattaca might only be a few years away.

Right now, researchers are working on the ability to make changes in target DNA. Gene editing is already a thing. Soon we’ll be able to go to our local clinic, pick out child’s traits, and get implanted.

The messy way we created humans might be a thing of the past. There will be a need for people who know how to edit genomes and the DNA of future children without messing up. From technicians to full PHDs, a whole slew of jobs will appear once we finally figure out how to design humans from the DNA up.

Don’t Panic. Just Pivot.

There is no need to panic when change happens. Even if you failed to see it coming, you can always make changes in your own life to fit the times. Just like a brand or company must pivot to survive at times, you must remain open-minded and flexible.

The best companies continually add value to their products and services. As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to add value to yourself and your business. Keep looking to the future and you’ll continue to profit. Stagnate and you will surely fail someday.


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Alibaba punta sulla piattaforma di vendita all’ingrosso Ordre

Ordre ha scommesso tre anni fa sulla vendita all’ingrosso di prodotti di lusso su Internet. Una scommessa che sembra vinta, poiché la piattaforma ha accolto il gigante Alibaba come “investitore strategico”, secondo un suo comunicato. I dettagli dell’operazione non sono stati svelati.

L’interfaccia della piattaforma Ordre – Ordre
Fondato nel 2015 dalla coppia Simon e Kirsten Lock, Ordre riunisce vari showroom di vendita all’ingrosso su Internet. Secondo l’azienda, la cui sede si trova a Hong Kong, Stella McCartney, Proenza Schouler, Thom Browne, Vivienne Westwood, Joseph, No. 21 e Paule Ka sono tra i nomi più recenti fra i 156 marchi entrati nella piattaforma.Annunciando l’investimento di Alibaba, Ordre ne ha approfittato per precisare che la sua percentuale di crescita è raddoppiata nel breve volgere di un anno. Il suo modello commerciale sottolinea il peso crescente assunto dall’universo digitale, non solamente nel campo della vendita diretta al consumatore, ma anche in quella all’ingrosso. Ordre propone degli showroom online innovativi che possono completare i circuiti wholesale abituali degli stilisti, soprattutto grazie alla presenza di immagini a 360 gradi e di contenuti in realtà virtuale.

I rivenditori dei quattro angoli del pianeta possono così scoprire dallo schermo del loro computer le collezioni dei designer più all’avanguardia e ordinare all’ingrosso dal web. Ordre spiega che la sua proposta è particolarmente adatta alle Settimane della Moda, perché permette ai buyer che non si sono potuti recare alle Fashion Week di fare affari con i marchi su Internet. Si tratta dunque di far risparmiare tempo ai compratori, ma anche di ridurre le loro spese e il loro impatto energetico, considerazioni sempre più importanti per i clienti dei rivenditori stessi.

Il cofondatore di Ordre, Simon P Lock, spiega che l’investimento di Alibaba “permetterà all’azienda di accelerare lo sviluppo delle sue tecnologie d’avanguardia, di apportare un valore aggiunto agli stilisti con i quali (essa) lavora e di aprirle delle porte sui mercati del lusso in Cina”.

Jessica Liu, presidente di Tmall, la divisione moda e lusso di Alibaba, puntualizza invece che questo investimento “rappresenta una nuova tappa nello sviluppo della (sua) presenza nel settore della moda”. E aggiunge: “Stiamo rafforzando la nostra posizione di partner privilegiato per i marchi che vogliono raggiungere i consumatori cinesi più agiati, attratti dal lusso internazionale”.

Alibaba prevede di completare la tecnologia sviluppata da Ordre coi propri dati e circuiti distributivi, come il recentissimo Luxury Pavilion, una piattaforma di lusso esclusiva, accessibile su invito e riservata alla clientela cinese.

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Is it better to rent or buy a home? ~ Get Rich Slowly

I’ve been a homeowner for 24 of the last 25 years. Based on this, you might think I’m an advocate of homeownership over renting. That’s not the case. The older I get, the more I appreciate there’s no correct answer in the perennial “is it better to rent or buy?” debate. Sometimes buying a home makes the most sense. Sometimes renting is the smarter choice.

In an editorial in the June 2007 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Knight Kiplinger wrote, “It often costs less to rent. The annual cost of owning a property, be it a house or a condo, is usually greater than the cost of renting, after taxes.” I agree.

Today, let’s look at a handful of ways to evaluate the rent versus buy decision from a financial perspective.

The Price-to-Rent Ratio

One way to tell whether it’s better to rent or buy is by calculating the price-to-rent ratio (or P/R ratio). This number gives you a rough idea whether homes in your area are fairly priced. Figuring a P/R ratio is simple. All you need to do is:

  1. Find two similar houses (or condos or apartments), one for sale and one for rent.
  2. Divide the sale price of the one place by the annual rent for the other. The resulting number is the P/R ratio.

For example, say you find a $200,000 house for sale in a nice neighborhood. You find a similar house on the next block for rent for $1,000 per month (which works out to $12,000 per year). Dividing $200,000 by $12,000, you get a P/R ratio of 16.7. But what does this number mean?

Writing in The New York Times, David Leonhardt says, “A rent ratio above 20 means that the monthly costs of ownership well exceed the cost of renting.” That’s a little opaque, I know. Leonhardt is saying that the higher the P/R ratio, the more it makes sense to rent — and the less it makes sense to buy.

The normal P/R ratio range nationwide is between 10 and 14 (meaning it would cost between $1200 and $1600 to rent a $200,000 house). During the 1990s, just before the housing bubble, the national P/R ratio was usually between 14 and 15 (about $1100 to $1200 to rent a $200,000 house). During last decade’s housing bubble, national price-to-rent ratios rose to 22.73 (in 2005) then to 24.50 (in 2007) before the market collapsed. As most folks were rushing to buy homes, the numbers said they ought to be renting.

Based on this info, I’d argue that:

  • When price-to-rent ratios are under 12, it’s generally better to buy than to rent.
  • When price-to-rent ratios are between 12 and 15, the financial decision is murky.
  • When price-to-rent ratios climb above 15, you’re probably better off renting.

Nationwide numbers don’t tell the full story, of course. While the national price-to-rent ratio might be around 20, the actual numbers in your city could be very different.

Price-to-Rent Ratios for U.S. Cities

In the past, I’ve struggled to find current price-to-rent ration figures. Recently, however, I learned that Zillow has a dedicated page for researching housing data. From here, you can download tons of different tables related to home sales and rental prices, including monthly price-to-rent info from October 2010 until today. If you’re looking to relocate, this is a fantastic resource for finding where your housing dollars will go farthest!

For kicks, I wasted ninety minutes playing with price-to-rent ratios using Zillow data. (What can I say? I’m a nerd!) I downloaded their list of median home prices and median monthly rents, then calculated the P/R ratio for 48 major metro areas. (For a variety of reasons, this is a somewhat arbitrary selection of cities.) Here’s my list of price-to-rent ratios in the United States as of January 2018.

Current Price-to-Rent Ratios

If you’re moving to Scranton for your new job at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, it’s likely you’ll want to purchase a home. But if you’re headed to the Bay Area, your best bet is going to be to rent.

I’m somewhat skeptical that these numbers are accurate — they do come from a site eager to create homebuyers, after all — but it’s tough to find better info. As far as I’m aware, there’s no reliable source that generates these stats on a regular basis. (I personally believe numbers from articles like this are more accurate. However, that article is also eighteen months out of date and doesn’t explain its methodology.)

Please note that city-wide price-to-rent ratios only really matter if you’re moving from another town. Otherwise, what actually matters are price-to-rent ratios for the specific properties you’re thinking of buying or renting.

Home Price vs. Household Income

Another way to gauge the cost of housing is to compare it to your family’s income. From 1984 to 2000, median home prices were about 2.8 times the median yearly family income. (In other words, the typical house cost about three times what a family earned in a year.) During the early 1970s, home prices were about 2.3 times median family income. During the housing bubble, this ratio jumped to 4.2.

These numbers may not mean a whole lot on their own, but they can give you some sort of idea whether housing is overpriced in your area. Plus, it seems safe to assume based on past figures that most families can comfortably afford a home that costs about 2.5x their annual income. (So, if your family makes $80,000 a year, you can afford a $200,000 house.)

According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in the United States was $57,617 at the end of 2016. (Average household income is greater — $73,207 — but that number is skewed by high earners, which is why I prefer to use the median.)

Median Household Income

Using the current U.S. median home price of $232,700, we can see that home prices are currently running at about 4.04 times the typical household income. This ratio isn’t quite as high as it was during the housing bubble, but it’s still pretty steep.

My Favorite “Rent or Buy?” Calculator

Finally, I want to share what might be my favorite way to compare the costs of renting against the costs of buying.

The New York Times has a great rent vs. buy calculator that can help you decide which is best for you. Just plug in the numbers for your situation, and the calculator tells you how long it would take you to break even if you bought a house. This calculator is an amazing tool. Although it lives behind a soft paywall (which can be circumvented using incognito mode in your browser), it’s well worth using if you’re trying to make a decision about whether to rent or buy.

For fun, I ran the numbers for my own situation. Last summer, Kim and I purchased our current home for $442,000. When you figure all of the remodeling we’ve done, our actual cost will be closer to $600,000. (Holy cats!) Based on our situation, the NY Times calculator says that we’d be better off renting if we could find a similar property for less than $2767 per month.

Better to Rent or Buy?

Scanning current listings, there are three nearby rental homes similar to ours (more than 1200 square feet, more than an acre of land). They’re fetching $2900 to $3000 per month. So, it sounds like buying or renting a property like ours in Portland is a toss-up at the moment. (If I run the numbers using our home’s actual purchase price — $442,000 — I’d have to be able to rent for less than $2100 for that to be the smarter option.)

The Bottom Line

Deciding whether to rent or to buy is a complicated financial and emotional decision. I believe it’s a shame when folks who are unprepared get driven into the housing market due to misplaced notions of imagined benefits. Homeownership is not a panacea. Renting is not universal folly.

Part of the problem is the vast Real-Estate Industrial Complex, each piece of which has a vested interest in convincing consumers that bigger is better. (As I mentioned in my recent article on the history of homeownership in the U.S., the real estate industry is a relatively recent invention, barely 100 years old. But in that hundred years, it’s grown into a powerful force in our economy.)

The housing industry does its best to propagate certain myths about homeownership, myths like:

  • If you rent, you’re throwing your money away. (This is false. As with all financial choices, there are opportunity costs whether you choose to rent or choose to buy.)
  • Owning a home is a forced savings plan. (Also false. Yes, it’s possible to build equity in a home if you buy it in the right place at the right time and/or you stay put for a while. Most folks don’t stay put, however, so they end up paying a whole lot toward interest and very little toward building equity before buying a bigger, “better” place.)
  • You should buy as much home as you can afford. (Complete and utter bullshit. You should spend as little as you possibly can. Instead of pushing the upper bounds of your housing budget, as happens in most cases, you should instead be aiming as low as you can go.)

Now, let me be clear. There’s no question that buying a house makes sense for some folks, but mainly for non-financial reasons. Owning a home gives you stability (you’re not at the mercy of a landlord) and freedom (you can do what you want with the place). Heck, last year I chose to buy an eighty-year-old “country cottage” on the outskirts of Portland, so I completely understand the non-monetary reasons for wanting to own.

But there are also advantages to renting.

For one, you have flexibility; you can move at a moment’s notice. For another, you’re not responsible when things go wrong. If the shower starts leaking before you leave for your vacation in Duluth, you don’t have to worry about it — you call in the landlord.

If you decide to buy a home, do it for the right reasons: because it fits your goals and will make you happy. Don’t do it because you think it’s a good investment. A mortgage is not a retirement plan — it won’t make you rich. Instead, think of it as purchasing a way of life.

If homeownership is a lifestyle you want and can afford, then buy. If not, rent.

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Netflix supera i 100 mld di capitalizzazione, spesa mktg a + 54%

Il noto servizio di streaming statunitense ha archiviato l’ultimo quarter del 2017 con sottoscrizioni in aumento al di sopra delle attese e si prepara a investire tra i 7,5 e gli 8 miliardi di dollari per le sue produzioni originali

Lunedì sera Netflix ha superato per la prima volta nella sua storia la significativa soglia di cento miliardi di capitalizzazione. La società nata nel 1997 dal genio di Reed Hastings come servizio di vendita e di noleggio film via internet è ora un colosso dell’entertainment globale. A spingere verso l’alto il titolo è stato il rilascio dei conti trimestrali al 31 dicembre del 2017: Netflix cresce, aggiunge nuovi abbonati nel mondo e negli Stati Uniti. E soprattutto viaggia al di sopra delle stime.

I dati

Negli ultimi tre mesi dell’anno scorso sono state 8,3 milioni le persone che hanno deciso di abbonarsi a Netflix, la quota più elevata nella storia della società, portando il totale a poco meno di 118 milioni di sottoscrizioni. La Borsa ha brindato e il valore delle azioni è salito ulteriormente per via di un outlook particolarmente positivo per il primo quarter del 2018. Venendo ai dati prettamente economici l’azienda ha fatturato 3,29 miliardi di dollari, mentre l’utile per azione si è attestato a 41 centesimi, in linea con le previsioni. Negli Usa le sottoscrizioni sono state 1,98 milioni, nel resto del pianeta 6,36 milioni, cifre superiori a quanto stimato in precedenza. Esattamente un anno fa Netflix registrava un utile di 15 centesimi e ricavi per 2,48 miliardi.

In aumento contenuti originali e pubblicità

Contestualmente l’azienda americana ha annunciato di prevedere una spesa tra i 7,5 e gli 8 miliardi di dollari in produzioni originali nel 2018: una cifra astronomica destinata ad aumentare ulteriormente nel prossimo biennio. “Crediamo che i nostri investimenti daranno i loro frutti”, ha dichiarato Reed Hastings nella conference call con gli analisti. Una strategia che porterà l’azienda ad aumentare il budget marketing globale di oltre il 50%, quasi un obbligo per sostenere i piani di crescita del leader assoluto dello streaming video. Una percentuale che in cifre si tradurrà in un deciso aumento dagli attuali 1,2 miliardi in 2 miliardi di dollari e motivata dai vertici di Netflix per via della sua efficacia. Secondo alcuni osservatori Netflix potrebbe presto introdurre la pubblicità, o modelli ibridi, per monetizzare una fascia di pubblico attualmente non raggiunta. Ma per ora sono solo ipotesi.

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Is applying for Social Security more complicated than it needs to be?

My mother turned seventy a couple of weeks ago. This means a couple of things:

  • First, she’s reached the age at which she can receive maximum retirement benefits from Social Security.
  • Second, it’s time for her to start taking Required Minimum Distributions from her retirement accounts.

If you’ve been reading Get Rich Slowly for a while, you know that these two routine tasks are less than routine for my family. My mother has fought a long-time battle with mental illness. After a crisis in 2011, my brothers and I realized that she could not live alone. We found a highly-regarded local assisted living facility that specializes in patients with memory issues. (Mom has some sort of cognitive disability that includes memory loss, but which the doctors have been unable to diagnose.)

For the past seven years, Mom has lived at Happy Acres in a comfortable apartment with her cat (Bonnie) and her television. When I see her, I often ask if there’s anything more she needs or wants. She assures me that this is all she needs to be happy.

Mom and Bonnie

At this point, Mom struggles with routine personal hygiene, so there’s no way she can take care of tasks like signing up for Social Security or taking withdrawals from her retirement accounts. As her sons, that’s now our job. (And we’re happy to do it.)

You might think that this process would be easy — but you’d be wrong. I suspect that in most cases, getting retirement benefits started is easy, but it’s much less so in our situation.

A Little Bit of Kafka

At first, my brother Jeff and I thought that setting up Social Security would be simple. He and I both have Power of Attorney. We’re accustomed to this allowing us to breeze through most financial tasks as if we were Mom herself.

In March, about a month before Mom’s birthday, I spent an afternoon at the local Social Security office. I took all of the documentation that I could gather.

I arrived to find the waiting room was packed with other folks applying for benefits. It was standing-room only. Rather than get frustrated, I sighed and resigned myself to waiting. And wait, I did. I waited for two hours before my number was called. (It was all fine, though. I spent the time absorbed in a good book.)

When my turn came, I sat at the desk and talked to the clerk. “I’m here to apply for Social Security benefits for my mother,” I said.

“Is your mother with you?” the clerk asked.

“No,” I said. “But I have Power of Attorney.” I pulled out the paperwork to offer proof.

The clerk waved her hand and shook her head. “The Social Security Administration does not recognize Powers of Attorney,” she told me. “To conduct business on your mother’s behalf, you must be a designated representative, a legal guardian.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“For all practical purposes, it means you probably should make an appointment to bring your mother in with you. That’s going to be the easiest thing to do.”

“Okay,” I said. “But she’s not really going to be able to carry on a conversation or to make an informed decision about anything. Still, let’s make an appointment.”

“Even if she’s not mentally fit, she has to be the one who applies in person,” the clerk said. She clicked at her keyboard, searching for appointment times. “I’m sorry, but we don’t have any appointments available.”

I was puzzled. “Let me get this straight. Mom has to apply in person. To apply in person, we have to make an appointment. But there are no appointments available?”

“Well, there three other options,” the clerk said. “She can do what you did today and wait in the lobby. She can call each morning to see if there are any cancellations. Or she can apply online. However, she has to apply herself. You can’t fill out the application for her.”

I’ll admit that I was both baffled and a little steamed. “She’s not able to fill out the application herself. She’s not capable,” I said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to have her wait here with me for two hours as a drop-in. And calling the day-of to get an appointment is problematic. It would take roughly three hours from the time I called in order to get her here.”

The clerk shrugged. “I don’t know what to tell you,” she said. “Those are your three options.”

Skirting the Law

When I returned home, I called my brother to explain the situation. “I feel like there’s no way we can get this done,” I said, “unless we fudge things a little.”

“What do you mean?” he said.

“Well, there’s no way for Mom to complete the application hereself, right? Legally, she’s required to. But what if we completed it for her while she’s in the room?”

“I’m okay with that,” Jeff said.

And that’s what we did: Jeff and I sat with Mom and worked through the online Social Security benefits application.

Much of the application asked for standard stuff, such as age, mailing address, and so on. It was easy for us to answer those questions. But some of the questions required sleuthing. To set up Mom’s online Social Security account, for instance, we had to puzzle out a battery of questions drawn from her credit history. (Solution? Just pull a free credit report, which you’re allowed to do three times per year.) To actually complete the benefits application, we needed to figure out important dates regarding her marriage and her work history.

Whenever we reached a question that stumped us, we asked Mom for the answer. She never had the answers, though, so we had to dig through various documents to find the info.

After a couple of hours, we’d finished the application. We asked Mom to type in her name for the digital signature. (Even that was tough for her.) The process was over…or so we thought.

About a week later, we got a letter in the mail from the Social Security Administration. “Thank you for contacting us for an appointment to visit our office,” the letter read. “This is confirmation of the date and time of your appointment.”

“What in the world is this?” Jeff asked me. “We never made an appointment for Mom.”

“I have no idea,” I said. “I thought we’d done everything we need to do at this point. But I’ll tell you what. It sounds like we have a firm date and time for an appointment, so let’s just take it. We may be duplicating our efforts, but that’s okay. I’m willing to sacrifice a few hours of my time just to make sure everything is correct.”

Return to Purgatory

Jeff handled everything with the assisted living facility, arranging for Mom to have an early breakfast, and getting her approved to take a field trip. His wife showed up yesterday morning just to make sure everything went according to plan.

Meanwhile, I left the house at 7:30, stopped by the family box factory to pick up supporting documentation, then headed to Happy Acres to pick up Mom.

When we reached the Social Security office at 8:55, there was already a long line at the door. “There’s no way we’re going to get inside in time for our nine o’clock appointment,” I thought to myself, but it turns out I needn’t have worried. When the office opened, a security guard summoned folks with appointments to the front of the line. Mom and I went inside to meet the clerk who would be conducting the interview.

Our clerk was both friendly and helpful. He was also meticulous and business-like. At first, he directed his questions to Mom (as he should have), but when it became clear that Mom couldn’t answer for herself, he addressed me instead.

“We’ve received your mother’s application for retirement benefits,” the clerk told me. “But she’s also eligible for survivors benefits. That’s what today’s interview is about. We want to get her set up in the system so that she receives everything she’s due.”

The clerk interviewed us for about twenty minutes. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to answer all of his questions because we weren’t prepared for them. When did Dad die? I remember that date very clearly. When were Mom and Dad married? I don’t know off the top of my head and Mom can no longer remember.

“Do you have a copy of their marriage certificate?” the clerk asked. No, we do not. “Ah, you’ll need to get a certified copy and mail it to me in order to complete this process.”

“How do I do that?” I asked.

“You’ll need to contact the Department of Vital Records in whichever state she was married,” he said. “Once you get a certified copy, mail it to me in this envelope. After we have all of the documentation we need, benefits will begin a few weeks later.”

To Be Continued…

Last month during my road trip through the southeastern United States, I stopped to visit my pal Cameron Huddleston in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Huddleston, a personal-finance columnist, has experienced something similar herself. Her mother has Alzheimer’s, so Huddleston has had to learn to manage her money. And, in fact, she just signed a deal to write a book about managing your parents’ money.

“It’s kind of a boring topic, but it’s important,” Huddleston told me. “It’s something that more and more people are wrestling with, especially as lifespans increase and personal finances become more complicated.” She hopes to produce a useful guide to help people like me figure this stuff out. From what we can tell, nothing like this exists right now. It’s like each person in my situation has to re-invent the wheel, to puzzle through the process on our own each time. I’m eager to be the first person to buy Huddleston’s book!

Obviously, my family still has work to do.

From what we can tell, Mom’s application for Social Security retirement benefits has been accepted and now it’s simply a matter of waiting for payments to begin. (This can take up to three months, apparently.)

Meanwhile, in order for her to receive survivors benefits, we need to track down a copy of her marriage certificate, which I suspect is going to eat another couple hours of my time. That’s a task for this afternoon, I guess.

Plus, I haven’t even started talking to Vanguard about how to take Required Minimum Distributions from Mom’s IRA. We have another 5-1/2 months to solve this piece of the puzzle. (RMDs must begin by the time the account holder is 70-1/2 years old.) I’m going to wait until the Social Security benefits are finally flowing before I move on to the IRA.

One final task? The next time I see that Mom is having a lucid day, I want to ask her what we can buy her to improve her life. She says she’s content sitting in front of the television with a cat in her lap, but I feel like there must be something more we can do for her. Maybe get her a second and third cat? Maybe get her a super-deluxe television? Or how about buying a fancy chair with built-in massage?

Mom has some money now. It’d be awesome to use that money to give her a better life.

Important footnote: Dad died in July 1995. Mom has missed out on 23 years of Social Security survivors benefits because we weren’t aware that she should apply for them. That’s crazy! “Do you have any literature on survivors benefits?” I asked the clerk at the Social Security office yesterday. He have me a few pamphlets. Soon, I’ll read all of this material and write a short blog post summarizing the most important pieces.

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7 moyens pour gagner de l’argent avec WordPress


1. Rebranding

Si vous avez récemment construit un site Web pour un client, vous pouvez leur proposer un projet de rebranding. C’est également une excellente raison pour recontacter d’anciens clients dont le logo, la typographie, la palette de couleurs et les images peuvent ne pas être aussi frais ou moderne.

2. Concevoir des cartes de visites

Pour les clients dont vous avez récemment achevé la conception du site web, ce serait une excellente idée d’en proposer à chaque projet. Pensez-y: ils ont une excellente présentation de leur site, mais maintenant, tout leur ancien contenu peuvent ne pas s’adapter au nouveau design. Ils pourraient se tourner vers un nouveau concepteur qui ne comprendra pas votre travail … ou ils peuvent vous demander de le faire ! C’est à vous de savoir exactement ce que vous voulez offrir, mais une carte de visite est probablement une bonne astuce pour commencer.

3. Design d’annonces

Pour les clients qui choisissent de faire monétiser leur site, profitez de cette occasion pour leur proposer des services complémentaires sur la conception d’annonces personnalisées. Plutôt que d’utiliser le design par défaut que leur plugin publicitaire offre, vous pouvez créer des annonces qui complètent leur nouveau site.

4. Design de la Newsletter
Nous passons tellement de temps à ajouter des formulaires de contact et d’abonnement aux sites de nos clients, les reliant à leurs auto-répondeurs . Mais savons-nous ce qu’ils en font ? Pour les clients qui collectent passivement ces prospects et ne profitent pas de cette occasion pour être en contact avec eux par le biais d’une newsletter, c’est le bon moment pour le faire. Tout ce qu’ils doivent faire c’est d’écrire le contenu et vous le concevrez.

Et s’ils ont une petite liste ou veulent commencer simplement, vous pouvez toujours utiliser un plugin pour newsletter qui se chargera de le faire.

5. Création vidéo animée

La vidéo est tendance en ce moment et il en sera certainement de même en 2018. Sauf si vous êtes un vidéaste, vous ne pourrez pas offrir de services de marketing vidéo à vos clients. Toutefois ce que vous pouvez faire, c’est leur proposer de créer des animations vidéos. Vous pouvez commencer par un plugin ou vous pouvez en créer un à partir de zéro.

6. Services de référencement

Chaque fois que vous créez un nouveau site WordPress pour un client, vous l’optimisez pour la recherche . Mais vous savez aussi bien que moi que Google ne dort jamais et met toujours à jour son algorithme .

Si vous aimez être au courant des derniers changements d’algorithme et que vous aimez analyser les performances des mot-clés sur un site, les services de référencement seraient une excellente option de vente croisée. Vous pouvez consulter les mots-clés de vos clients sur une base mensuelle, puis leur présenter une analyse de ce qui fonctionne, ou pas, et proposer comment cela peut être modifié.

7. Touche festive sur le site

Si les entreprises de vos clients offrent des services pendant les périodes de fêtes ou de vacances (comme les blogueurs culinaires autour de Thanksgiving et les sites e-commerce autour de la saison des achats de vacances),vous pourrez leur proposer de personnaliser leur site en y apportant quelques touches festives.

Il ne s’agit pas d’une révision totale du design, car vous ajoutez simplement des éléments festifs temporaires.

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Google investe nello streaming di Chushou

Negli ultimi mesi si è molto discusso se gli e-sport, ovvero i videogame giocati a livello competitivo e professionistico, possano essere considerati degni di entrare a far parte delle competizioni olimpiche. Anche Google sembra si sia interessata all’argomento e infatti come riporta Reuters ha finanziato Chushou, piattaforma di streaming cinese che si occupa proprio della trasmissione di contenuti dedicati agli sport elettronici. La cifra investita da Big G, che alla fine ha deciso di chiudere per sempre Project Tango, non è stata resa pubblica ma sarebbe piuttosto consistente.

Chushou è nata nel 2015 e in poco più di 2 anni ha già ottenuto un’utenza di 8 milioni di videogiocatori che trasmettono 250mila dirette delle loro sessioni di gioco al PC, console o smartphone. L’obiettivo di Google è quello di consentire alla piattaforma di espandersi anche al di fuori della Cina e consolidare la sua presenza in Asia dove gli e-sport sono molto popolari (In Corea del Sud in particolare). “Chushou ha costruito una piattaforma impressionante, dotata di una ricca base di utenti e creatori di contenuti in rapida crescita. Siamo emozionati di supportare Chushou attraverso questo investimento, aiutandoli a sviluppare i propri obiettivi e portando contenuti di grande qualità legati al mondo del gaming mobile in tutto il mondo”, ha dichiarato Frank Li, responsabile delle sviluppo per la divisione asiatica di Google.

Google questa volta non ha voluto acquistare direttamente Chushou ma si è limitata a fornirle un supporto esterno. Nulla vieta però che la collaborazione tra le due aziende possa diventare ancora più stretta. Il know how o le dirette della piattaforma cinese in futuro potrebbero essere sfruttate per la crescita di YouTube Gaming, che al momento fatica a competere con la rivale Twitch.

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