We all need stuff, from cars to laptops to clothes. That doesn’t mean you have to walk into a store and plunk down money for brand new items each time. Just as the new car you drive off the lot immediately loses half its value — congratulations on the new used car you just purchased — there are plenty of things you can buy secondhand or refurbished.
Consider rentals for rarely used items. You’re unlikely to purchase 80 chairs and a tent for that backyard wedding. How often would you actually use a punch bowl?
Here are five categories of stuff you should definitely not buy new. The money you save can be a much-needed infusion to your emergency fund or a boost to an investment account.
1. Save a bunch on your ride
New cars are for people who are either really rich or who shrug at the cost and feel it’s worth it. For most people, the savings realized from buying pre-owned (if that sounds nicer to you than “used”) is so substantial as to overcome any hesitation.
One strategy: Look at cars that are nearly new, with a late model year and low mileage.
“Purchasing a car that’s a few years old and loaded with features can potentially cost less than buying a newer vehicle that only comes with basic features,” said Darren Newberry, senior vice president, store operations at CarMax, the used car retailer. Do your research, narrow the choices and make sure the car is thoroughly inspected.
“Avoid vehicles with frame damage, flood damage or salvage history,” Newberry said.
2. Baby on a budget
What’s the most common thing you hear about babies? They grow up so fast.
It makes sense not to spend a bundle on things they’re going to use for a short time.
Save money by renting, borrowing or buying secondhand occasional-use baby gear, says Fran Maier, CEO and founder of BabyQuip, a baby gear rental service. An expensive baby jogging stroller can run more than $300. You might need a baby backpack for just one annual family event. Renting, on the other hand, could cost about $10 to $15 a day.
Parents sometimes rent pricier gear for a few days before deciding to buy, Maier says.
If you buy used equipment, including toys, always check it against a product recall list. The website SafeKids.org has a list of recalls by month. Sign up for recall alerts at the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Make sure a secondhand car seat has never been in an accident, Maier says.
It’s not just equipment, but everyday clothes and toys can burn up a budget. “My kids are hard on their toys and pieces are invariably broken or lost,” said experienced mom and financial independence podcaster Wendy Juvenal Mays.
“In my opinion, buying toys new is like throwing cash in a fire,” she said.
To cut down on frustration, she buys secondhand at flea markets and garage sales. “The kids simply don’t care,” she said. “It is new to them and they have just as much fun.”
3. Laptop luxury for less
You can save hundreds of dollars when you buy refurbished electronics, and there’s a lot to choose from.
“The list [of what’s available] is getting longer,” said Chris Raymond, deputy editor of electronics at Consumer Reports in Yonkers, New York.
Apple and Samsung both offer refurbished phones, as well as laptops and computers, on their websites. “Even refurbished headphones,” Raymond said. You can now buy high-end Beats or Bose electronics.
“Be careful,” he said. “Not every retailer defines refurbished in the same way.”
According to Raymond, Apple and Samsung, for example, will do more than just clean a phone. They’ll actually look at and replace many parts. “You end up with a new battery, new outer casing, new earphones and a new cord,” he said. “If you buy from the right place, you wind up with a phone that looks brand new and operates like a brand new phone.”
Pay attention to the warranty, because they vary. “Samsung and Apple give a one-year warranty,” Raymond said. Other places may be only 90 days.
The big thing is great prices. A smartphone can run $300 to $500, about half the cost of a premium phone, according to Raymond.
4. A wallet-friendly bottomless closet
A big event means putting on something you almost never wear and may not even own.
Men have rented formalwear for decades, but women now do, too.
Rent the Runway has brought the cost of a heart-stoppingly pricey dress down so it’s comparable to a restaurant meal instead of your monthly rent. You can rent a Badgley Mischka evening dress (retail: $935) for $55 to $70, depending on the number of days.
The company started with dresses for special events and moved into workday clothing subscriptions.
Melanie Hamilton, 40, is sales leader for a large tech firm and a fan of the subscription service for her workday wardrobe, since it means not having to repeat outfits frequently.
“I literally buy [only] bags and shoes on my own,” Hamilton said. She estimates her savings at around $1,000 a month since her position requires a polished wardrobe.
Other fashion retailers, including Ann Taylor, have also begun offering workwear subscriptions that can cut down the cost of buying new clothes.
5. Before you invest in a hammock …
Choosing a new hobby or sport is exciting. It can also be expensive.
It’s not just skiing that’s spend-y — the cost of outfitting a teen for hockey can bump up against $1,000.
Definitely rent, especially to start, or buy secondhand. One dad even started a lucrative business selling used hockey equipment.
Most people do not camp every day. Instead of jumping in and buying tents, stoves, backpacks, bear canisters and gear, try renting. REI, Eastern Mountain Sports and other sporting goods stores are glad to give you a taste of the equipment before you invest.
5 Stocks To Watch For January 14, 2019
Some of the stocks that may grab investor focus today are:
- Wall Street expects Citigroup Inc. C 0.05% to report quarterly earnings at $1.55 per share on revenue of $17.59 billion before the opening bell. Citigroup shares rose 0.28 percent to $56.85 in after-hours trading.
- Yeti Holdings Inc YETI raised its forecast for the year. The company said it projects full-year adjusted earnings of $0.88 to $0.90 per share, versus earlier forecast of $0.79 to $0.82 per share, and sales of $778.8 million. Yeti shares jumped 10.83 percent to $18.53 in the after-hours trading session.
- Stein Mart, Inc. SMRT 0.81% reported a 3.3 percent drop in its comparable stores sales for the nine-week period ended January 5, 2019 on a shifted basis. Stein Mart shares tumbled 11.29 percent to $1.10 in the after-hours trading session.
- Analysts are expecting Shaw Communications Inc. SJR 0.05% to have earned $0.22 per share on revenue of $1.01 billion in the latest quarter. Shaw Communications shares rose 1.57 percent to $20.00 in after-hours trading.
- Boot Barn Holdings Inc BOOT issued strong forecast for the third quarter. The company said it expects Q3 sales of $254 million and earnings of $0.66 per share. Boot Barn shares surged 5 percent to $20.36 in the after-hours trading session.
How to Write a Recommendation on LinkedIn
YOU’VE BEEN ASKED TO give LinkedIn recommendations to former colleagues. The pressure is on: Unlike a traditional letter of reference shared with specific employers or hiring teams regarding a particular position, LinkedIn recommendations are public and available to your entire professional network via social media. The approach you take to writing a recommendation on LinkedIn might seriously affect the professional reputation of the person you’re reviewing – for better or worse.
Assuming your goal is to help the person you’re recommending, writing a strong LinkedIn recommendation can boost the candidate’s credentials in the eyes of recruiters, hiring managers and professional peers.
“Recommendations for a candidate are an additional bonus, a cherry on top,” says Alan Fluhrer, talent acquisition manager at W.E. O’Neil Construction. “Just like having a photo increases your chance of getting a contact, a few recommendations add to a person’s credibility.”
Although Fluhrer notes that he reads all LinkedIn profiles of interest to him whether or not they contain recommendations, he explains that “they can only help.”
With this in mind, consider the following pointers to help you deliver an effective and powerful LinkedIn recommendation to colleagues and others with whom you’ve truly enjoyed working.
How to Write a Recommendation on LinkedIn:
- Keep it short, significant and specific.
- Share results, work style and attitude.
- Consider letting the recipient draft the recommendation.
- Post your LinkedIn recommendation
- Keep it short, significant and specific.
Some well-meaning recommendations are nonetheless cringeworthy. The source of the discomfort these cause may be insufficient significance or specificity. Recommendations that highlight underwhelming qualities (“Dustin always arrived on time to work”) or sound generic (“Martha was a reliable employee”) leave readers feeling flat.
Since there’s a 3,000-character limit on LinkedIn recommendations, it’s important to make every word count. Don’t waste your review time sharing basic facts expected in any job. Instead, think of specific strengths that really make the person stand out – for example, that he’s the most responsive communicator you’ve ever worked with, or that she consistently met your department’s goals, below budget.
Share results, work style and attitude.
When you’re in the position to hire someone and are reviewing multiple candidates’ credentials online, you want to get a clear sense of what each person would really be like in the role. You want to know what he or she offers in terms of personal character and professional credentials.
Focusing on the trio of results, work style and attitude can help you strike this balance in a short space. Quantifying a specific outcome that you experienced with your colleague, such as that she designed an award-winning marketing campaign that won your company new business, provides tangible support to back your belief in her.
With results as the centerpiece of your review, you can then ice the cake by briefly describing what you liked about working with the person. Was she someone you could rely on under pressure or in a pinch? Did he make it his mantra to go above and beyond with each project? Give people a taste of the treat you had in working with your co-worker to make it obvious why this person is such a great catch.
Attitude is part of work style, and it’s something essential to most employers. No matter how technically proficient someone is, if she isn’t collaborative, collegial and otherwise great to work with, then she isn’t a great hire. If you appreciated the person’s positive attitude, emphasize that point.
Consider letting the recipient draft the recommendation.
A common practice in writing traditional letters of recommendation is to ask the recipient of the review to write a first draft of what he or she would like you to state in your recommendation. This strategy also works for LinkedIn recommendations, so if you’re busy, it’s fair to request a draft from the person you’re recommending. You have no obligation to post this suggested language, but using this approach saves you time while allowing your colleague to home in on exactly which points he or she hopes you will mention.
Ask the recipient to provide you with the draft outside of the LinkedIn platform so that you can offer edits if needed. Once you and the candidate have agreed on the language that you’ll use, then you can post the recommendation on LinkedIn.
Post your LinkedIn recommendation.
To post your recommendation, click the “more” button on the profile of a first-degree LinkedIn connection, then select “recommend.” Fill out the “relationship” and “position” fields, then click “next.” Type in your recommendation, and then click “send.”
Keep in mind that on this specific social media platform, each member can opt whether or not to display a LinkedIn recommendation she receives, so if you write one that’s not to the recipient’s liking and she hides it, you’ve wasted your time. To that point, if you don’t feel you can give a strong enough recommendation to someone who has requested one, you’re better off declining the ask.
The right way to fire an employee
There’s nothing fun about the firing process: whether you’re giving or getting the news.
“No one likes to fire people, it doesn’t matter how successful or high up they are,” said Kristi Hedges, leadership coach and author of The Power of Presence.
But having to let workers go comes with the territory of being an employer.
And while there are a host of legal issues surrounding how to properly lay off a worker, experts said there are also practical and emotional considerations to take into account when delivering the news.
Don’t surprise them
If a worker is being fired for poor performance, it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Hold regular employee reviews to go over any areas that need improvement, experts recommended. They don’t need to be super formal, but it allows workers time to improve or refocus.
Some states have what’s called at-will employment, which means workers can be fired at any time for any legal reason, but that doesn’t make it a good business practice.
“Legally you may be able to do that, but in many cases, firing an employee without having any reason — especially if it is for performance with no feedback or no indication of doing something — that is not a good way to operate a business,” said Dan Ryan, founder of Ryan Search & Consulting.
If the termination is due to a business model change, try to give affected workers as much notice as possible.
“Sometimes business necessities don’t allow [for a heads up] or for safety reasons you may not want to, each case is different,” said Paula Harvey, vice president of human resources at Schulte Building Systems in Texas. “Make a good decision on how to handle the terminations.”
Do it face to (familiar) face
Firing someone is always going to be uncomfortable. But it needs to happen in person, the experts agreed. Not over the phone, via email or blasted out on Twitter.
“We pick up a lot more information when someone is in front of us,” said Hedges. “You can see body language, feel the energy in the room and react better. It’s a sign of courtesy to let someone go face to face.
She added that it’s best to have the direct manager be the one delivering the news. “If management is having a talk with you, that is a level of intimacy and personal care,” she said. “If you are kicked over to HR to someone you don’t interact with, that sets a different tone.”
Experts also recommended having another person in the room, preferably from human resources, that can serve both as a witness or to help with any unusual reactions or questions.
Be clear and concise
Now’s not the time to wing it. What you say and how you break the news is important when letting an employee go.
Make sure you know exactly why you’re firing a worker, have specific examples and bring the proper documentation. That includes copies of performance reports, any write-ups and applicable financial forms like unemployment insurance and health insurance and 401(k) options.
Be firm and clear in the delivery of the termination and the path forward. “There is no room or need to get into a protracted discussion,” said Ryan. “It is what it is, there is no productive discussion that can take place after.”
Be prepared for emotion, but keep yours in check
Some workers take the news in stride. Others might go through a range of emotions: shock, grief and sometimes anger.
“Show empathy,” said Ryan, but be careful about any physical contact.
Harvey advised against using any harsh words or mean emotions during the termination. “You may be upset that they didn’t perform at the point you hoped, but it doesn’t do you any good. Just say, ‘This is it, we made this decision and we wish you well on your way.'”
Give them a soft landing
For workers who are being let go for non-performance issues, help make the transition as seamless as possible, Hedges recommended.
She said some companies offer employees a long lead time to give them a chance to find a new job or offer some consulting work for the company to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
Be honest with employees
If there is a big round of layoffs, don’t leave employees in the dark. And if word starts spreading about people losing their jobs, move swiftly.
“That kind of rumor mill can be detrimental to those involved, especially if your name is being circulated as on the chopping block,’ said Ryan.
Try to make the cuts all at once, Hedges advised.
“Go deep the first time. It’s better to let more people go at once then to do it over three stages. It prolongs the pain. The worst thing a manger can do when answering whether more layoffs are coming is to say, ‘I don’t know, we will have to see.'”
Once the cuts have been made, be transparent and offer a sense of security to remaining workers.
“If the rest of company doesn’t know what’s going on and the only way to retrieve information is back channel rumors, that crates havoc,” said Hedges.
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