Backing Up Your Computer’s Data Has Never Been Easier

John Lund—Getty Images Don't have a backup drive? Consider cloud storage instead.

Why risk losing everything when protecting yourself is so easy?

When Josh Smith’s boss got his computer stolen out of his car, he simply went to the store, bought a new one, and plugged it into his backup drive.

“It even brought up the web page he had looked at the day before,” says Smith, editor of, who lives in Findlay, Ohio.

Setting up a backup system is so easy you would think everyone does it, the way we sync our phones to the cloud so that our lives do not fall apart every time a device takes a dunk in a toilet. But most of us do not put these safeguards in place.

It only takes a little bit of preventive medicine to make sure your laptop or desktop computer can be restored if something happens to it. Here is what you need to know:

Backup Drives

While the cloud is great for backing up data, Smith recommends a hard drive backup that you keep in your house – maybe even more than one, in case something happens to the first one. This will not only restore your data, but also your software programs and any other preferences, like web browsing bookmarks.

All it takes to get a backup going is to plug in a drive. On a recent-issue Apple machine, the computer will automatically ask if you want to run Time Machine. Depending on your Windows machine, you may need to identify your pre-installed backup application and start it.

Go with the automatic set-up. “Backing up manually is a pain, and you’ll miss files,” Smith says. “It’s good to find a solution that’s seamless. Then you don’t have to remember to do something every week.”

Basic 1-terabyte models start around $60. A 2-TB drive runs about $100, but drives can often be found with significant discounts. You do not need a specific Mac or Windows drive, as most are compatible, just something sturdy and handy that you will actually use.

As for cost-savings, you might be able to avoid hiring somebody like computer consultant Laurie Duncan, owner of Mac Samurai in New York, to painstakingly rebuild your system. And you are also protected if any of the cloud services you are using goes out of business or changes hands and terms of service.

“You should have a copy of your own data somewhere,” Duncan advises.

Cloud Storage

Most cloud storage services offer a certain amount of storage for free, and you can mix and match according to your needs. If you need additional storage, you can purchase monthly plans. Apple’s iCloud is free for 5GB, 99 cents per month for 20 GB and 3.99 per month for 200 GB. With Google Drive, the first 15 GB are free, and it is $1.99 per month for 100 GB. Dropbox is free for 2GB and $9.99 per month for 1 TB.

Duncan is a big fan of Dropbox, because it is cross-platform and easy to use. She also likes Google cloud services, but for document access on the go, not for storage.

Louis Ramirez, senior editor at DealNews, which aggregates retail bargains, finds iCloud to be seamless if you are an Apple device user. If you are on Android, he recommends Google Drive instead. For a list of hard drives recommended by Deal News, check out this link.

For the Really Lazy

If you cannot manage buying a drive or implement cloud storage because you simply cannot remember to sync, there are options for you. Smith says several services, like Backblaze and CrashPlan, both for $5 a month for one computer, will backup your whole computer remotely.

Smith also says there are some router/drive combos that can create a wireless backup. You can also find some routers with a USB part that will connect to a hard drive. “Once it’s set up, it will go on its own,” he says.

MONEY Health Care

Online Doctor Visits Are Set to Surge

Martin Barraud—Getty Images

3 out of 4 large employers surveyed said they will offer telehealth options in 2016.

When the great summer cold hit my family, we hunkered down with soup, tissues and TV. But then my cough started to sound more worrisome.

Too weary to spend a chunk of my day trooping off to the nearest urgent care center or my primary care physician, I fired up my computer and saw a physician online.

Signing up with Doctor on Demand took only a few clicks. Less than half an hour later, prescriptions were waiting for me at my pharmacy.

According to a study released on Wednesday by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), online doctor visits are going to skyrocket in the coming year. Last year, 48% of 140 large employers surveyed by NBGH made telehealth options available. In 2016, that number will jump to 74%.

It is part of a booming industry that is attracting venture capital and is expected to save U.S. companies more than $6 billion a year in healthcare costs, according to consultant Towers Watson.

You do not have to wait for your employer or insurance company to provide virtual doctor visits – major telehealth providers such as American Well, Doctor on Demand, MD Live and Teladoc offer on-demand services for about $40 to $50 for a 15-minute session.

“Telehealth can become an extension of primary care to free up physicians to focus on more complicated issues,” said Brian Marcotte, president and chief executive of NBGH, whose website describes it as a “non-profit organization devoted exclusively to representing large employers’ perspective on national health policy issues.”

Taking Hold

Companies that offer telehealth services to employees report 12% adoption rates, according to the NBGH survey. About half of companies offer services through their health plan, while 22% contract directly with a vendor.

With annual healthcare spending increases holding steady at around 6%, telehealth is one of the measures used by companies to cut costs without having to increase employee premiums or cost-sharing, Marcotte added.

Telehealth providers are reporting tremendous growth. American Well, for instance, pegs its growth at 1,100% in 2014 over 2013 and is going strong in 2015 so far, according to Chief Executive Roy Schoenberg. Patient visits at Teladoc grew to 299,000 in 2014, from 127,000 in 2013, according to company documents. The company’s current reach is 100 million people.

“This is becoming mainstream is every way,” said Schoenberg.

For consumers, the experience is akin to going to urgent care facility for minor conditions such as sinus infections and rashes.

Karen Corrigan, a consultant from Norfolk, Virginia, first used a telehealth service about a year ago, after coming home late on a Friday night from a business trip feeling as if she had bronchitis. “We had seen a commercial or something. I just went online and searched,” she said.

Since then, the 61-year-old has only used telehealth services when she already knows what she has. “Obviously, if something more serious was coming on, I’d go to urgent care, or get a new physician,” Corrigan said.

Diagnostics tools for physical exams at home are, however, limited. For my own online visit, the doctor had me say “ah” to the webcam; it was rudimentary at best. And while the online doc prescribed heavy-duty medicines, at a comparative visit to urgent care, the in-person doc told me it was just a virus and to go home and rest.

“About half of our visits will result in an RX. In an offline setting, it’s usually in the 70% range,” said Doctor on Demand Chief Executive Adam Jackson. “The doctors in the urgent care are the same ones we’re staffing.”

Advances are coming for home diagnostic tools but are not readily available yet. Some offices and retail clinics have telehealth kiosks, which have devices such as web-connected blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes, along with video screens. Doctor on Demand has a partnership with Wegman’s pharmacies, for instance.


How to Pick a Back-to-School Computer

Greg Friedler—Getty Images

Nearly 1 in 5 parents plans to buy back-to-school electronics this year.

Looking to buy your kid a computer this back-to-school season?

Keep in mind that a teen getting a new computer today can expect it to be just one of 20 or so they can expect to go through in a lifetime. That means the price you pay now will affect your long-term budget: Choose unwisely and you could add thousands of dollars to your bottom line.

Most people upgrade their computers every three to five years, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), a trade group. The average replacement cycle for computers among younger people is roughly double the 18 to 24 months that they change phones, says Steve Koenig, senior director, industry analysis at CEA.

“Most people don’t want to trash a computer in three years, they want to get closer to five,” says Laurie Duncan, owner of MacSamurai Consulting in New York.

Over a lifetime of computer buying, an extra two years of use could shave off eight or more computer purchases – saving you anywhere from $3,000 for budget machines to more than $16,000, if you are partial to high-end Apple products.

Focus on Specs

This year, 18% of U.S. adults are planning a back-to-school electronics purchase, CEA says.

To get the most bang for your buck, shoppers should concentrate on the specs that mean the most to them and not skimp, suggests Louis Ramirez, senior feature writer for DealNews, a deal aggregation website. Top concerns are weight, screen size, memory and the hard drive’s capacity.

For example, memory is not something you can easily upgrade anymore. If you are choosing between two models and one has significantly more RAM for just a little more money, that is the one to go for.

The caveat, however, is that you can only go as high as your budget allows, says CEA’s Koenig. After all, you may end up upgrading your computer after three years anyway, if there is some exciting new feature you have to have.

And, of course, your needs may change. You might buy a perfectly good general machine for a college freshman, serviceable for writing papers and streaming YouTube videos. But if that student ends up majoring in engineering or any field that involves video editing, you will be back at the computer store before you know it.

In fact, many college students will no longer make it all the way through school without needing to upgrade, especially if they start with a laptop that is not brand new on day one.

Fabian De Jesus, an IT specialist in New York, just bought his stepdaughter a new high-end Mac for her senior year of college to replace the PC she got right after she graduated high school.

“I had planned on getting her a new machine for graduation, but I believe that current college kids put an enormous stress on laptops these days,” says De Jesus. “I have seen more wear and tear on laptops of college students than laptops of constant travelers in my office.”

Pick Your Ecosystem

Are you a Mac or a PC person? It will help you save money if you decide upfront and stay in the same ecosystem with all devices, says DealNews’ Ramirez.

Transitioning between format types could cost you money down the line if you need professional help, and you may need to rebuy software.

The upfront cost of becoming a Microsoft Windows user is usually less, since you can get low-cost machines like Chromebooks for under $200. Mid-range machines run around $350.

The low end for Macs start at $750 or $850, says Ramirez. But if you consider resale value, you can make 60% back, he says. You can also get great deals on refurbished models from Apple, which come with one-year warranties. You may even be able to sell your refurb on a site like eBay.

Avoid the urge to upgrade every year, experts say. It typically takes more than two years before you notice any difference in performance.

The best advice for longevity of your computer purchase: “Take care of your system and be careful what you install on it,” Ramirez says.

MONEY Health Care

The Crazy High Price of Adult Braces

Jason Todd—Getty Images

The number of adults wearing braces today is 37% higher than in 1989, but insurance rarely covers the bill.

Danielle Faust, 33, is six weeks into wearing braces to fix her crooked teeth and is pretty happy about the process, but not the price. While the $5,000 for Invisalign clear aligners in South Florida where she is a freelance writer is $1,000 less than a friend is paying in New York, she is kicking herself because she missed out on a Groupon that would have saved her even more.

Parents often blanch at the price tag of braces for their children but count it as a known cost of raising offspring. When it comes to their own teeth, however, adults are a lot more cautious about the money involved. Using braces to fix dental problems such as crooked teeth or bite problems can cost between $3,000 and $7,000, depending on the treatment options and where you live.

The number of American adults over 18 sporting some form of a “brace face” is roughly 1.2 million, or 20% of the 5.9 million patients orthodontia patients nationwide, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. That is up from 875,000 adult patients in 1989.

“Adults are very careful. They are making the investment, and they want to make sure they are getting their money’s worth,” says Dr. Morris Poole, president of the AAO and a practicing orthodontist in Logan, Utah.

Shop Around

Most orthodontists charge a flat fee based on the duration and complexity of the case. Retainers and some follow-up care are usually included, says Poole.

As costs vary greatly, it pays to shop around. “Most will do a no-charge consultation,” says Dr. David Bonebreak, who participates in two orthodontic practices near Howard County, Maryland. If you like an expensive doctor more than others with cheaper plans, he suggests asking for price matching.

Katrina Morrison, a 38-year-old mom of three from Atlanta who works as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, went to three different orthodontists for consultations and ended up going with the mid-priced one.

The more expensive option required a massive down payment of $1,000. The cheaper option was a discount chain that charged $99 a month, but did not offer a dedicated doctor with each visit.

“I really wanted that personalized service,” Morrison says.

Ask for Discounts

One way that Morrison saved money was by working all the breaks – the most significant being a family discount since she used the same orthodontist as her children. She also was able to pay upfront some of the $4,500 total cost and work out a payment plan over 20 months for the rest.

Insurance Varies

Morrison’s dental insurance covered 50% of her costs, but Faust’s insurance would not cover any of her Invisalign because it was considered cosmetic. If she had gone for traditional braces, it would have covered $2,000, but that would have been a lifetime benefit. Slightly less than half of the patients Poole sees have any sort of dental coverage at all, he says.

Rachel Teodoro, a 36-year-old mom and blogger from Seattle, Washington, was able to get some discounts by paying the $6,500 charge upfront and in cash, which she was able to do because her family had socked away money in their Health Savings Account.

“It makes sense to fund it, because it’s not taxed – and it’s a smart financial move,” Teodoro says.

Wear Your Retainer

The biggest cost-saver for braces: Wear your retainer. The best way to avoid future costs is to stick with the maintenance program.

“I would never let my teeth go again,” Morrison says. She just got her braces off in early July and is now facing a long run of wearing top and bottom retainers – replacements cost $250 a pop. “I’m always on the go, I’ve told myself I’ve got to hold onto these things,” she says.

MONEY 401(k)

The Hidden Costs of Borrowing From Your 401(k)

Peter Dazeley—Getty Images

You can borrow up to half the balance in your employer-sponsored retirement savings account, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea.

All it usually takes to borrow money from your 401(k) are a few clicks on a website, and a check will arrive a few days later.

That is why U.S. retirement industry leaders talk about the prospect of doing away with 401(k) loans before younger workers follow in the footsteps of previous generations and start using their retirement account like an ATM.

Workers who take out 401(k) loans risk not having enough saved for retirement because they miss out on growth while the money is borrowed. Some may also reduce their contributions or stop them altogether, research shows.

Internal Revenue Service rules say you can borrow up to $50,000 or 50% of the account balance, whichever is greater.

This ability to cash out some portion of your retirement account balance is unique to 401(k) plans. You cannot borrow against an Individual Retirement Account or a pension, for instance.

The problem is with middle-aged workers, who are the heaviest loan users, according data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The overall average of loans has hovered between 18 and 20% for the last few years; about 27% of participants in their 40s had a loan balance in 2013, the last year of EBRI’s data. Workers can take out money as withdrawals without penalty after age 59 1/2.

“New employees won’t notice, but sure as heck the older ones would notice it,” said EBRI Research Director Jack VanDerhei.

Among developed countries with private retirement systems, the United States is alone in allowing basically unrestricted access to cash without providing proof of a hardship, according to a recent study led by Brigitte Madrian, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

In fact, loans were used to entice workers dependent on pension plans to enroll in 401(k)s when they were introduced in 1981.

“They thought it would be hard to get people who were living paycheck-to-paycheck to sign up unless they thought they can get their hands on their money in a loan,” VanDerhei said.

A study VanDerhei did in 2001 showed the loan option made a big difference in how much a person was willing to contribute.

But that was before the financial crisis of 2008 and before the age of auto-enrollment.

Today’s under-40 generation does not pay much attention to the details of retirement plans they get at work, and it is unlikely that any change would prompt them to start opting out in huge numbers, VanDerhei says.

Huge Consequences

While it is alarmingly simple to borrow from your 401(k), borrowers may sometimes have to pay set-up fees. The low interest rate charged is actually credited back to your own account as you repay.

The consequences in lost growth, however, can be monumental.

Fidelity Investments estimates that a person who takes one loan out – the average balance they see is $9,000 – is set back about 7.6% from his or her long-term retirement goal.

Half of Fidelity’s borrowers end up with more than one loan. The real-dollar impact is between $180 and $650 a month in retirement, according to the company’s estimates.

It is not just the loan balance that affects the retirement account. Of the 20% who borrow, Fidelity has found that 25% lower their savings rates within five years of taking a loan, and another 15% stop saving altogether while the debt is outstanding.

“We take these calls, millions of calls every year,” said Jeanne Thompson, a Fidelity vice president. “We see they have taken loans, and they don’t have enough to retire.”

A direr problem is with those who have an outstanding balance when they lose or change jobs. They must repay their loans immediately or face tax penalties on top of credit problems.

“The vast majority of money is actually repaid, on the order of 85% of it,” says Harvard’s Madrian. “But for a smaller subset of people, it can be a problem.”

Legislation to change 401(k) loan provisions is unlikely at this point, Madrian said.

“It would be easier if you had some companies get rid of the option and show the employees were better off,” she said. “Absent some more compelling data, it’s going to be hard to shift the policy landscape on that front.”

MONEY Workplace

Ivanka Trump and the Growing Power of Women in Family Businesses

Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C Groundbreaking Ceremony
Kris Connor—Getty Images Ivanka Trump, shown here with her father Donald at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C at Old Post Office on July 23, 2014, is now executive vice president of development and acquisitions at The Trump Organization.

20 years ago there was basically zero preference for women in family businesses.

The Trump Organization is a lot like the thousands of family businesses that dot the land, even though its current leader, Donald Trump, is a U.S. presidential candidate.

The New York-based development company, which was started in 1900 by Donald’s father, Frederick, and grandmother, Elizabeth, is at the forefront of one of the big changes at small companies: Women are increasingly taking over top leadership roles, even in traditionally male-dominated businesses.

Ivanka Trump, 33, is part of a fourth generation working their way up the company’s leadership ranks, waiting for the day when their father hands over the reins. So far, she has made it to become an executive vice president of development and acquisitions.

“I don’t think too much about the role of being a female in terms of my own company,” she said. “I just look at it as growing and learning.”

She said her father never treated her differently from her two brothers at the company, Donald Jr. and Eric.

“There are probably plenty of patriarchs that don’t think their daughters are as capable as the sons,” she said. “That’s not the case in my family.”

These attitudes are increasingly common, said Walter Kuemmerle, president of Boston-based Kuemmerle Research Group, adding that 20 years ago, there was basically zero preference for women in family businesses.

“I see more women interested and more older generations receptive to the idea of the best person taking over, rather than having a gender bias,” Kuemmerle said.

Kuemmerle has run annual meetings for young executives in family businesses for Citi Private Bank for the past few years, but this year’s was the first where more than half of the people in the room were women.

But he cautioned that the evolution was not yet complete. His best advice for women joining family businesses is to get a great education, get outside experience and do more homework than their competitors.

“As unfair as this sounds, you should be better prepared than you’d think a male would be,” he said.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Ivanka Trump said she had encountered only subtle forms of gender bias.

“Certainly when people enter a negotiation with my father, they come incredibly well-prepared,” she said. “With me, particularly early in my career, that wasn’t always the case.”

Obstacles to Ascension

When Julie Smolyansky took over as chief executive officer of her family’s Lifeway Foods Inc in 2002 after her father died suddenly, it was his senior advisers who presented the biggest obstacles to her ascension. She had been working for the kefir yogurt maker for years but was only 27.

“His friends and advisers told the family, there’s no way a 27-year-old can run a company,” she said. “We needed some gray hair in the leadership.”

Wayne Rivers, president of the Family Business Institute, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, was not surprised by this viewpoint.

“One dirty little secret is that the advisers don’t like family businesses successors; they perceive that they are spoiled and entitled,” Rivers said. “It’s awful to watch, because they are prized by senior-generation family members as professional and objective. But they are human beings like everyone else, and they sometimes have an agenda.”

In the next generation, the challenges for young women entering family business may come from within themselves.

That is the view of 23-year-old business analyst Leah Klein of Chicago-based Klein Tools, which has been in her family since 1857.

“I think a lot of women think it’s a barrier if it’s a male-dominated business, but I think it’s more about them,” said Klein, who is among the sixth generation working at her company. “If a woman is interested, they have to make their choices about what they want to do for their life.”

MONEY Workplace

Science Games for Girls Can Open Doors to Lucrative Careers

Courtesy Roominate Roominate rPower, available this fall, lets girls control ferris wheels, RVs and other creations using a phone or tablet.

But are they learning the money management and fundraising skills that will allow them to run their own companies?

Pink Legos not being quite enough, a slew of start-ups, many of them founded by women, are attempting to motivate girls into lucrative and satisfying careers in the traditionally male-dominated areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

But while girls string together HTML instructions and tinker with circuits, are they learning the money management and fundraising skills that will allow them to run their own companies – or even just manage their bank accounts?

Women have traditionally lagged men in financial literacy and investing prowess, according to Annamaria Lusardi, a professor of economics at the George Washington School University of Business in Washington, DC.

“Knowing science is not enough for women,” says Lusardi, an expert in financial literacy. “You need a capacity to make good financial decisions.”

Confidence is the key to unlocking women’s potential in these areas, Lusardi says. She helps run annual studies testing financial literacy, science and math knowledge around the world. When “I don’t know” is included as an option, women pick that much more than men, Lusardi says. Yet in a test case removing that option for some respondents, women answered the questions and mostly got the answers right.

“We have to really show to women that they should take the plunge, because it is very important,” says Lusardi.

Try, Try Again

Debbie Sterling, who founded the building kit GoldieBlox, says her products teach confidence by allowing girls to fail. “It opens their minds to say it’s ok to tackle a problem even if you’re not going to get it perfect the first time,” she says.

Players can fit the toy’s interlocking plastic building pieces in many different ways, so they experience trial and error.

Storybooks accompany the set, featuring positive role models. The main characters, Ruby and Goldie, are purposefully not prodigies, but rather are B+ students who are really open-minded and willing to try, try, try again.

“There’s the boy-genius archetype in media that suggests that unless you have IQ off the charts, you’re not good enough. I think that archetype is really damaging,” says Sterling.

Supply and Demand

The goal of STEM play is to get children’s creativity flowing, and the founders of GoldieBlox and other programs such as Roominate have seen all sorts of inventions come to life.

The best of them identify some sort of need and figure out how to capitalize on it – the basic laws of supply and demand that drive all successful business.

The lesson to learn, says Lusardi: Think of how you can build something you can sell, and then creatively manage your resources.

With Roominate, a modular building system with circuits, players create rooms with functional lights, fans, furniture and other features. While the pastel-colored pieces are designed to fit together into rather domestic configurations, the company’s founders, Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen, have seen customers take off from there. They develop play storefronts, lemonade stands and other businesses, which teach them mini-business lessons as well.

One GoldieBlox user took the kit and some paintbrushes and created a drawing machine, according to Sterling. She made original paintings with it that she sold, and then she donated all the profits to charity.

Another success story: Tampon Run, a free iPhone app designed by two New York city teenagers. It is an old-fashioned arcade game where the heroine uses tampons as weapons to defeat enemies. The app was created by students of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit aiming to teach computer programming to one million girls by 2020.

More wide-reaching is that many girls have graduated from Girls Who Code to paid internships in the community. “I think they are now comfortable making money,” says founder Reshma Saujani.


Panic Won’t Pay Your Student Loan Bill After a Layoff

Man in bed with scared look
Williams + Hirakawa

But these 3 smart moves can help.

When Jesse Lambert lost his job last December, he was about a level seven for panic. After paying rent in Arlington, Virginia, the 33-year-old’s student loans for his undergraduate degree and masters in international commerce were the next biggest expense at around $450 per month.

Lambert’s first step was the one experts advise: He called his lender.

After that, his panic quickly subsided. With a game plan in place, the odds were actually in his favor for a short-lived unemployment.

“Having a college degree is a good hedge against unemployment,” said student loan expert Mark Kantrowitz, who publishes the education resource site Edvisors Network (

In fact, the unemployment rate for those in the 16-24 age group with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 15 percent lower than for those without a high school degree – 4.8 percent versus 20.2 percent in May 2015, according to government data. For the 25 and older category, the unemployment rate for those with higher education was only 2.7 percent in May 2015.

The following are steps experts advise taking if you are out of work for a few months while paying off student loans.

1. Call your lender

The default rate for student loans, which total over $1 trillion, was 12.9 percent for public colleges in 2014. In addition to ruining your credit, one reason you do not want to hide from lenders is that they may be able to help.

Federal loans come with set options for deferments, with all payments suspended for a time. There is also the option of forbearance, allowing you to delay payments, although interest will still accrue and be tacked back onto the loan.

Deferments are a better choice because they do not add on to the total loan balance, Kantrowitz notes.

Private lenders will also offer these options, and some will go further to come up with alternative payment plans. Wells Fargo, for instance, has a team trained to craft specific solutions for borrowers after listening extensively to their circumstances, said John Rasmussen, Wells Fargo’s head of Education Financial Services.

2. Rally your network

When Lambert ramped up his job search last winter, he even got help networking from his lender, SoFi, a start-up that has handled $2.5 billion in loans since launching in 2013. (By contrast, Wells Fargo, has a $12 billion current-loan portfolio.)

When Lampert refinanced his loans, he remembered seeing something about career services. After calling SoFi about deferment options, he ended up getting personalized job search coaching.

Lampert a few months later landed a job as a senior analyst for a company that does government consulting. Bob Park, SoFi’s head of career strategy and professional development, helped him negotiate his salary offer.

So far, about 100 borrowers have gone through SoFi’s job search boot camp. Another 45 are currently in the program.

“We haven’t lost anyone yet,” said Park, who has seen everyone go on to land a job. When Park started in 2013, the average time to a new job was over 100 days; now it is 90 days.

3. Lean on your emergency funds

Because your job search is likely to be short, the best way to get through it is to have an emergency fund, advises Jenny Smith, financial services representative for The Principal Financial Group.

Borrowers in financial trouble should avoid expensive options like consolidation, because it will likely result in an overall higher interest rate, Smith says. Nor should they take on credit card debt in order to pay off student loans. “Band-aiding can be bigger problem later,” she said.

If your lender does not offer career services, look to your state government or local chamber of commerce for programs aimed at young professionals.


Shark Tank’s Daymond John Blew His First $20 Million Before Wising Up About Money

The Shark-Daymond John Presents "Xpensive Habits" Lavo Brunch Sponsored By: Jack Daniels, Miller Lite & Evian Water
Jerritt Clark—WireImage Mark Cuban and Daymond John attends The Shark-Daymond John Presents "Xpensive Habits" Lavo Brunch Sponsored By: Jack Daniels, Miller Lite & Evian Water at Lavo on February 14, 2015 in New York City.

The FUBU founder shares what he's learned about investing since then.

On ABC’s “Shark Tank,” Daymond John scrutinizes the business plans of wannabe entrepreneurs, but how does he manage his own finances?

A self-made businessman, John is actually pretty realistic – working his way up many ladders and learning from failures. A native of Queens, New York, John founded FUBU at age 23 in 1992, riding the wave of hip-hop fashion trends.

Now 46, he has been with “Shark Tank” since its debut in 2009. He serves as a consultant, gives motivational speeches, writes books and is a spokesman for other businesses, such as Gillette.

Reuters spoke with John about how his acumen for business translates to managing his own money:

Q: How much of your net worth is locked away for the future, and how much is at your disposal now?

A: I’ve probably put in 50 percent for long-term, and the rest I play with. I have squirreled away enough to not have to worry about it. Hopefully, I’ll never have to touch it, and it will be passed onto my kids or a great organization.

What I play with now, it can fluctuate. I can end up using a good percentage of it on a great acquisition, or I can hold it.

Q: How involved are you in the management of that money?

A: There are several levels of it. I’m involved when I’m doing my day-trading. When we’re talking about asset allocation, I have very different approaches. I’m with Goldman (Sachs) and various other firms. I kind of let three out of five of them do their own thing. For two out of five, I monitor (my account) over the course of every month or so.

Q: Most of what you do on ‘Shark Tank’ can be considered alternate investments, but do you do anything beyond that to diversify your portfolio?

A: My larger investments have been apparel brands. As for real estate, I’m part of a fund, but I’ve never been that great at real estate.

Q: When you do a promotion like for Gillette’s Shave Club, do you have an investment in that, or is it just for promotion?

A: It’s a brand association. It’s just an investment of my time and my face and my integrity. I don’t take it lightly.

Q: You lend your name to a lot of causes as well. How do you decide what charities get your time and money?

A: It’s not really a planned thing. I try to give on various platforms, and not do too much check-book philanthropy. For some, I will try to make more people aware of the plight, and help get more people to give. To some I will dedicate time, such as my desire to get out word about dyslexia.

Q: Do you have planned giving worked into your estate plan?

A: I don’t have that formal plan – some will go to family and certain small organizations. One is animal related, one is dyslexia, one is hip-hop against violence.

Q: Who first taught you about finance and money management?

A: I got the knowledge by blowing about $20 to $30 million the first time I made it. I’m not one of the few who hit lotto or peaked at 25 as an athlete. I have had several other bites at the apple.

Q: You have listed Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” as one of your favorite books. What have you learned from it?

A: The fundamental lesson to it is it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you save. You should go after small opportunities that have the potential to grow into large opportunities. That educated me on the tool of money.

MONEY Workplace

The Dangers of Working for the Family Business

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A sense of entitlement could get you fired.

There is one big advantage 23-year-old Clint Morrison has found joining his family’s business fresh upon graduating from Rider University: he has a job, while most of his friends do not.

“They’re all still sort of scrambling,” Morrison says.

The Morrison family business, Benefit Design Specialists Inc, administers employee benefit plans for small businesses and is based in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Dad Tim employs not only his youngest son, Clint, but also two older sons, ages 27 and 29, as well as his own sister, a sister-in-law, a cousin and about 10 other non-related employees.

The key to a harmonious office with so many family members? “You have to find a spot for them to be productive or they won’t make it in the family business,” the patriarch says.

Here are some tips on joining the workforce – with your relatives, according to family business experts:

Start Elsewhere

There is no official tally of how many “& Sons” or “& Daughters” are among the 28 million small businesses in the United States, according to the Small Business Association.

Yet one of Clint Morrison’s business professors advised him not to start in the family business. The advice: go elsewhere and garner some knowledge of the industry first. Given the state of the job market and his family’s specialty niche, Morrison decided that was not feasible.

The strategy worked well for Laura Salpeter, who got a law degree and then worked for a few years at a law firm before joining her father Scott Salpeter’s Miami-based investment banking firm. Also working there, after a few years of getting experience with other companies, is Philip Cassel, son of Scott Salpeter’s partner. Both offspring are now 30.

“Working with my father was something I’ve always contemplated. So I dived into the business world and found out more about what it is,” said Cassel.

Work You Way Up

Even if you spent your childhood playing in the family factory, that does not mean you are going to walk into a corner office once you get your diploma.

Robert Spielman, a partner in the tax and business services unit at Marcum LLP, advises clients that it is their job to make sure their kids are exposed to all aspects of the business, especially if they expect to hand it over to them one day.

For example, one of his clients, a fish distributor, hired several family members for its sales force. “But none learned how to manage the business, and eventually, they had financial troubles,” Spielman said.

The best way is to start at the bottom and experience all areas of the enterprise. If the family business is a trucking company, start out in maintenance, then drive for six months, go into sales and then assist in the financing side before managing the fleet and employees, Spielman says.

Manage Expectations

The family business dream – that someday, all of this will be yours – can be a great motivator, but it can also instill an unwieldy sense of entitlement.

This happened to one family business owner client of Steve Faulkner, head of private business advisory for J.P. Morgan Private Bank’s Advice Lab. The son was lording his status over his coworkers and superiors, saying “Someday, I’m going to own all of this, and fire everyone I don’t like.”

When the son’s manager finally had the courage to tattle to the boss, he fired his own son. However, two months later, when the son could not find another job, the boss asked another manager to hire him back.

“That’s a horrible succession plan,” said Faulkner.

It is better, he says, for business owners to get their relatives to work harder than they ever have to be worthy to take over the reins.

Another of Faulkner’s clients does exactly this, down to a formalized training program for the fourth generation that is now joining the business. Newcomers spend up to six years training at international subsidiaries before being brought back to headquarters for management jobs.

The process drills respect into the employees, something Laura Salpeter says she has learned on the job.

Her top advice for those joining the family business? Understand you are working for your parent, not with your parent.


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