Craft Ideas for Your Laser Printer

Whether you use these ideas to decorate your own home (or skin!) or whether you give the finished products away as unique gifts, you’ll have fun getting to grips with these craft projects. You’ll need to find a cheap place to get toner cartridge supplies, though!

A Vintage-style laser transfer

This is an eye-catching way to display a favourite photo and it’s surprisingly easy to make.

You need nail varnish remover, a piece of plywood or a plank of pine, masking tape, rubber gloves, a paper towel or burnishing cloth and your favourite laser print. Then…


Trim your photo so it fits the piece of wood you’re using, before taping the edges down (the printed side should be facing down).


Douse your cloth or paper towel with nail varnish remover and rub the paper vigorously. A smooth burnishing tool would come in handy if you have one. When the paper is transparent, you’re probably ready, but lift up a corner of the paper to check. If the image is too faint, tape it back down and have another go.

Finish and seal

Once you’re happy, give the wood a few minutes to dry out before spraying some clear varnish over the image to seal it.

Create Your Own Temporary Tattoos

This is a fun summer holiday project for the kids, or for a hen night, or just for plain fun. The tattoo should last for a couple of days as long as you don’t scrub too vigorously in the bath.

You’ll need some printable tattoo paper and some adhesive sheets – they’re available in kits from most hobby stores.

Create your image

You need to design your image or wording, then, if necessary, reverse it before printing onto the special sheet. You then need to peel back the adhesive sheet and carefully apply it to the printed side of your paper. Work slowly and carefully to stick the adhesive sheet onto the printed sheet, removing any air bubbles as you go.

Apply your designs

Once you’re happy with the adhesion, cut around the individual tattoos with sharp scissors. To apply the tattoo to skin, remove the glossy backing from the adhesive side and place the tattoo on clean dry skin. Press it down evenly and apply a damp sponge to the surface of the tattoo, wetting the top layer, for 10-20 seconds. The top layer will move away from the skin, leaving the design in place.

Make jam jar labels

This works in the same way as the tattoo, essentially, although you’ll be applying the sticker as well as the design. Print out your design on plain paper before covering it with pressure-sensitive box-tape. Make sure all the air bubbles are worked out before submerging the paper and tape in a bowl of warm water for five minutes.

After five minutes, remove your label from the water and peel away the box-tape, which should have picked up your design. Let it dry for a few minutes before applying it to your jars

Teach your College Graduate to be Financially Responsible

There is plenty to be learned at a university in addition to partying, but unfortunately what usually does not sink in is being financially responsible.  While the “making good life choices” may not be a class, that needs to come from the parents.  As your child graduates and now has the knowledge to get a job in their chosen field, how they spend and save money could affect them the rest of not only their young life, but their adult life as well.

I may have been tougher to get through to than the average child, so I typically had to learn from my own mistakes.  It is not that my parents did not try to teach me to make good financial decisions, but of course I knew better than them, so saving money was the least of importance for me.  Spending money was at the top of my list during college while I was not making much money working part-time, but after when I had my first job out of school I was making more, which meant I could spend more.  Credit cards were my biggest vice, as it was something easy to use when I did not have money, and would worry about it later.  Well the credit cards kept coming in the mail and the limits increased, so I was a favorite customer from the credit card companies, while I sunk further into debt.  When I finally came to realization that this could go on is when it was time to buy a house and get married, probably later than I should have.  It took many years to get them paid off, and plenty of discipline on not racking them back up.

Sure this is just my story and I am probably a more extreme case than others, but when you come out of college without a plan and go on a spending spree, it sets you up for disaster, whether you are hundreds or thousands in debt.  Teach your child to have a budget, which monitors the money coming in and going out.  Bills will increase as homes and cars are purchased, so it is important to stress the importance of maximizing spending, while still contributing to savings accounts.  We always strive for our children to do better than we did, as our parents did for us, so make sure your child comes out of the gate ahead.

Tips for Protecting Your Property Investment

The rental market is strong, with many residents electing to rent instead of buy in today’s economy. This means great things for property investors, and choosing to rent out a home can be one of the most lucrative business decisions you make. However, with great reward comes great risk, so do what you can to protect your property investment by following these key guidelines.

  1. The Right Screening Tactic

There’s nothing scarier to a landlord than a terrible tenant, and this fear is based upon plenty of examples. Stories of awful lawsuits, violent renters, and damaging tenants are aplenty, so finding the right renter is key for all landlords. Instead of leaving it to chance, do your due diligence to find the right fit and rely on tenant reports for landlord use. These checks will help you determine whether a renter candidate has a criminal record and allow you to see their credit score. An even better aspect of using services like these? They will also tell you whether or not said individual has ever been evicted.

  1. Hiring a Property Manager

Even if you plan on managing the property yourself, at least consider using professional services. A good property manager already has a handle on the necessary local, state, and federal regulations and ordinances concerning rental properties, and using one greatly decreases your liability. They handle the nitty gritty details of renting out a property; they’ll make sure any repairs are made through reputable companies and handle face-to-face interactions with your tenants. The fees for a property manager start at around 10 percent of your rental income, but can increase depending on your location and the company chosen. If you’re using your rental as an additional income to your full-time job, a property manager may be necessary in terms of availability for your tenant.

  1. Upkeep is Key

To ensure you have tenants that don’t break their lease early, and you don’t face legal action, perform upkeep on your rental property whenever necessary. Small investments now mean protection from large fund-depleting repair or legal issues later. It will also help you maintain a solid, respectful relationship with your tenants and avoid periods of non-tenancy—meaning no lapses in your rental income. Less turnover also means fewer times of rental revamping for new tenants. A good general rule of thumb? The maintenance costs for a year should come in around 1.5 times whatever your monthly rental costs are. Of course this varies depending on unforeseen events and the age and condition of your home.

  1. The Right Insurance Plan For You

Take the time to find the perfect insurance plan for your property investment. From natural disasters to freak accidents to even burst pipes, the list of things that can cause damage to a property are seemingly unlimited. Speak to an insurance agent well-versed in the details of property rentals to ensure you find the right coverage. Most insurance plans don’t cover conceivable damages, including flooding, terrorist attacks, and sewage issues. Knowing this upfront can save you a small fortune down the road, and the peace of mind you’ll have is worth the investment. Many landlords are also enforcing renter’s insurance requirements. This will provide extra coverage for your tenants and hopefully further reduce your risk of any lawsuits.

  1. Becoming a Legal Entity

Many property owners elect to create a legal entity in the interest of protecting their other personal assets. One of the biggest liabilities when renting out your property is the possibility of lawsuits. Even if you end up winning a case brought against you, the legal costs of securing your win can be devastating. Make sure your personal assets are not vulnerable to attack by opportunistic terror tenants by creating your very own LLC. This will help protect your personal home, savings, and more, from any potential lawsuits.

  1. Tax Issues

The taxes required for a rental property are different than your normal personal filings, and there are various caveats and technicalities you’ll need to be aware of to ensure you stay on the right side of the IRS. It may be in your best interest to use tax services for the first go-around. Spending the small amount that it takes to have your taxes done is worth avoiding the risk of jail time or legal fees.


Ways PayPal Can Make you Save Money

If you’re always running low on cash after spending over budget then try PayPal to see what you can do to curb your spending. From holding yourself accountable to saving money on fees this tool can reduce your spending hugely.

Companies can sometimes charge their customers for using credit cards and the exact amount can vary wildly. Sometimes it’s a flat fee and other times it’s a percentage of the total spend, either way it’s an unnecessary expense that can be cut out. You can still use the credit card that you want to, just do it through PayPal to take away that extra cost.


If you have recurring bills and not enough cash in one account to cover them then use PayPal to split the amount and schedule the next payment. If there isn’t enough then the transaction will fail but you won’t receive a bank charge for doing so. These bank charge letters can cost a decent amount of money and if this keeps happening to you then it’s time to switch things up to this method instead and take control of these fees.


To gain cashback you can take advantage of PayPal deals or their debit card. The latter will give you 5% back in rewards and you can integrate it with your existing account to keep track of your spending. This PayPal card can be used in all MasterCard accepting stores and instead of using your credit card you can use theirs for no interest purchases. This, coupled with the perks and deals above, can go a long way to saving you money as you won’t be racking up charges and extra fees.

Depositing and withdrawing to banks or personal contacts is much faster with PayPal than it is with a traditional bank transfer. You can see when the money has left the account and when the other person has received it.

For those that have issues when it comes to setting a budget and sticking to it this can be a powerful financial tool. Each time you log in you can see how much you’ve spent, where and when. You can then use these figures to add information into your favourite budgeting app and find out how much you have left to spend in each category. It aggregates the spend from each card on the account so you can view it in one place instead of searching for the bank statements for each one. This holds you accountable for your spending and you can’t just place it on a credit card and forget about it until the next month.


The best thing about PayPal that saves people money on a regular basis is the fact that there are no fees associated with the service. You won’t find any interest on your account or service charges either. It’s accepted in the majority of online stores nowadays so you can centralise all of your spending into one account. It’s a one stop shop for all of your payment needs and if you use these handy hints then you might even save yourself some cash with it.

Budget Smart Using Lesser Known Finance Features on Your Smartphone


American author William Feather said “A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it.” Unfortunately this rings true for many Americans as the average household in the U.S. owes more than $ 7,500 in credit card debt. Now, more than ever, the need to sustain a reasonable budget is imperative. It is easy to get carried away and buy what you can’t afford if you don’t keep your finances at the forefront of your thoughts. An easy and convenient way to do that is to utilize your smartphone to keep you from making dumb purchases. Smartphones offer an array of finance-focused features that help you stick to your budget.

Budgeting Apps

Want to better manage your money? There’s an app for that — or rather, there’s a bazillion apps for that. A good place to start is with Mint. Popular due to its ease of use, this app compiles all of your financial information and puts it in one, easy-to-view place. Mint automatically categorizes your transactions and alerts you when you overspend in a category’s budget. The real-time updates available concerning your credit and cash flow can quickly curb your urge to splurge.

Another good budget app is ReadyForZero. It offers you an online component where you can coordinate and sync your debt, develop a plan, schedule to pay off that debt and track the progression of your payment. Available in mobile app form, ReadyForZero incorporates individualized debt advice and suggestions for saving money. And to remind you of your progress and responsibilities, it includes alerts about your financial status.

Helpful Phone Features

Using simple, standard phone features like the calendar to schedule your monthly payments is always a good idea. Program recurring monthly payments into your calendar and then set up the calendar to remind you of these payments hours, days or even weeks before they come due.

More sophisticated budgeting and financial features are also available on smartphones, depending on the model. For instance, the Galaxy S6 Edge stacks notifications on the side of the phone to help remind you to stay on budget. You can utilize push notifications to alert you of new events or messages even when you’re using another app on your phone. When you receive a push notification on an Android device, the application’s icon pushes through so that the status bar displays a message. With the tap of a finger, you are sent directly to the application. Therefore, e-mails from credit cards, financial institutes and your personal banking accounts won’t be lost or forgotten in your inbox, allowing you to stay on top of your various payments and available funds.

As William Feather suggested in his quote, a budget alone will not keep you from spending frivolously; you have to stick to it. To do so, you need to constantly remind yourself of it when tempted to exceed your means. Use your smartphone smartly, and make it do the hard work for you. Transform it into your personal budget creator, payment reminder and alert system.

Order Your Essay

One of the largest investments we will ever make in our lives is our college educations. The cost is even greater for those that start but never finish school. They generally have student loans and debt that is harder to pay back without the benefit of having your degree. This is all the more reason to take your education seriously, pass your exams, and perhaps get a little help on essays if needed! Help on essays you ask? Writing was never my thing in school, I believed in pure true and false answers, not the arbitrary essay writing that always seemed to pull my grades down just as I raised them up. If you need help doing your essay then rest assured you have options.

There are services out there that will offer confidential essay writing services for a cost that is equivalent to the academic level of the paper. For instance,  if you have a 14+ day lead time and only require a high school equivalent paper then the cost is as low as $10. Whereas, a doctoral thesis that requires a 24 hour turnaround time could you run you $48. There are various costs in between depending on whether you are a bachelor or masters level, and how quickly you require the essay. Even if you are a typical procrastinator when it comes to writing papers, you should avoid this habit when purchasing them!

This probably seems too good to be true, but it’s not. The writers are carefully screened and vetted in order to ensure they are able to achieve the quality of writing desired.  They first must pass a 4-hour online test to gauge their overall proficiency. From there they must pass a test based on their knowledge and command of citation styles. The collection of writers are as varied as the customers who order the essays. This includes people from different countries speaking different languages.  If you are concerned about the specific writer assigned to your task then you have the option of paying an additional $5 for three writing samples to see if you approve of their work.

The most important aspects of a service of this nature include guarantees, privacy, and plagiarism free papers. First, if you aren’t satisfied with the quality of the paper then you will receive your money back. Second, you can expect total anonymity and privacy when ordering and receiving your paper. Last, and probably most importantly, you can be assured that each paper is original content with no hints of plagiarism or copied work.

Can a Personal MBA be just as good as the real thing?

After earning two degrees and wondering if a master’s degree is always worth it, I’ve searched and considered many other alternative options for learning.

And that’s where The Personal MBA (PMBA) comes in.

What is The Personal MBA?

The basic idea of PMBA: learn everything that you would with an MBA without actually earning the MBA itself. How to do that? Read, study, practice.

The Personal MBA itself is a book. I enjoyed it (I’d give it a 4 out of 5), but you don’t even really need to read this book to get started.

The most valuable part to me: The 99 Best Business Books list that the author, Josh Kaufman, has meticulously assembled. You’ve likely already read and heard of some of them, like How to Win Friends and Influence People and Your Money or Your Life. But I guarantee there are several you haven’t heard of.

Since reading PMBA earlier this year, I’ve been on a reading tear. I’ve read 13 books so far this year (about one a week now), many of which have been on this 99 Book list. A couple of examples:

1. Spin Selling by Neil Rackham. I was first turned onto this by Michael Ellsberg and how highly he spoke of it in his Mixergy interview. So I grabbed this book, and, damn, he’s right! I’m not a master salesman by any means (and I always though selling was sleazy before), but I think these are skills that everyone should at least be aware of and even use where possible. In the book, Rackham explains the difference between a feature, advantage, and benefit of whatever you’re selling. He teaches how to ask the right questions when on a sales call. It’s all very useful stuff, as just about all of us must “sell” at some point.

2. Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson. I found this to be an quick read that kept me interested the whole way through (I read it in one sitting). The authors focus most of the book on how they disagree with a lot of the strategies for creating businesses and startups these days. A few of their messages: focus on how to be profitable from the start, don’t concentrate on how you’re going to sell out, and that you don’t have to put in 16-hour days to succeed. They’re business model at 37signals is definitely not one to ignore.

Those are just a couple examples that I’ve learned a ton from already, and I’m eager to keep crossing off books on the list until I read all 99.

How the Personal MBA is Better

Obviously, a PMBA is not going to replicate the real deal. But there are plenty of benefits to taking this approach:

Huge money savings. An obvious advantage. I’m not really interested enough in getting a real MBA, and I definitely don’t want to spend the money to do it. Instead of shelling out all that cash on classes, you can spend a little money on books.

The potential to learn an even wider range of subjects. A traditional MBA doesn’t cover all the topics that the PMBA does. Yet, I would argue that the wider-range of topics is essential to understanding what you need to succeed. From reading just a few books on sales, it’s possible to may have studied more than an MBA student would while earning their degree.

Can do it from anywhere. I read books on my couch, during lunch at work, and even while I’m on vacation. I love just soaking this stuff up, and I’m glad I can do it from anywhere I choose.

(Obvious) ways that it won’t ever be as good

I’m not arguing that the PMBA will replace every part of a real MBA. Here’s my short and obvious reasons why it can’t (at least not in 2012). But just about all of these downsides can be overcome in some way (which I’ve noted):

You won’t get a real degree. You won’t be accepting any diplomas for reading all these books, that’s for sure. Instead: apply your new skills such in a way that the piece of paper doesn’t matter. Don’t tell me you can’t! Many of the best and the brightest have done it before.

In turn, companies won’t recognize the PMBA. While you’ll know a lot more of the concepts, it’s probably not going to be a resume booster to simply say you read the books. Instead: Impress business in other ways. Apply what you’ve learned, and turn your experiences into something that you can talk about and show on a resume.

You won’t get that networking interaction.  Unfortunately, there’s not a PMBA community to read and study with. Interacting with other students is definitely an advantage, but I’d still argue that there are a lot cheaper ways of doing so than getting an MBA. Instead: Read the books with others, and talk over what you’ve learned. Create your own classroom of sorts.

You won’t have professors to ask questions. You won’t have access to someone that will be there to answer questions. Instead: seek out those who can answer your questions online (that could even include professors or other famous authors). Doing that in our age is much, much easier than it has ever been.

It might not be as fun. Some people just like going to school and taking classes. It’s a fun experience, no doubt. Instead: Find other fun ways to interact and learn, like through Meetups. With the tens of thousands of dollars you are saving, don’t tell me that you can’t find a fun way to spend some of that if you choose to!

Okay, okay, maybe I didn’t talk you completely out of the value of getting a real MBA. But I hope that I did convince you of the power of a Personal MBA! I recommend checking out the book and at least see what you think about Josh’s viewpoints on the program. Then, move on to some of the amazing books he has on his list.

What do you think about replacing an MBA with a PMBA? Have you read any of the Personal MBA books?

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photo by: aafromaa

6 Reasons to Avoid the Wrong (and Expensive) Education

Growing up and working through high school, there was never any doubt about going to college.  99% of my high school class headed college immediately after graduation.  At the time, that seemed to be an astoundingly awesome stat, with all of us on track for guaranteed prosperity. But now I wonder: should everyone aim for more and more formal education?

According to a recent Harvard study, college isn’t for everyone.  One-third of jobs now and in the near future don’t require a college degree, like electricians or plumbers.  These types of jobs are here to stay, and not everyone is cut out to be lawyer or a doctor.  Many of my high school classmates have moved on to other jobs and careers that either weren’t what they studied for or jobs that don’t require a degree at all.

Here are reasons I’ve realized that a college education isn’t what everyone needs:

1. Education is expensive.  Regardless of your earning prospects after college, earning a four-year degree will set you back a few bucks.  Roughly $140,000 bucks, in fact, for an average, private four-year university.  Most students and their families clearly can’t throw down cash for that. Even financing just half the cost with loans will leave a large financial burden at graduation. Personally, I dislike college loan debt because it creates pressure  to immediately find a job and paycheck for loan payments. Job satisfaction and lower-paying yet rewarding job opportunities are shoved aside due to a necessity to earn a big enough paycheck.

2. More education and more degrees won’t always help you.  Think a law degree is a way to guaranteed riches? This article could make you think differently.  Still swayed by the admissions department’s employment statistics?  Those might be a lie, as schools may count “server at Applebee’s” as being “employed after nine months” even though a law degree isn’t needed for that. There are simply no guarantees anymore in this economy.  More than just a degree is required.

3. Experience can be much more important.  I’ve seen lots of graduates’ employment prospects get crushed due to a lack of any relevant past jobs on their resumes.  Many positions have an expected minimum amount of experience to qualify candidates and simply having a college degree simply isn’t a substitute for what is learned in the workplace.

4. There’s more to learn beyond the limits of college majors.  There are some skills that you just won’t get with a degree.  There are career and lifestyle options that aren’t taught in schools.  I’ve been (slowly) discovering where else I can learn without taking up formal education again.

5. Something I’ve already learned in my limited work experience: people-skills are more important than technical knowledge in some cases. Being super smart but terrible at communicating is an awful combination in a job or business where you need to interact with coworkers and customers regularly.

6. After earning a degree, you might want to do something else.  This is where I fit in (or, I guess, don’t fit in).  I’ve completed six years of college and earned two degrees (with almost no debt or loans).  My career in engineering hasn’t even begun yet, but I’m already unsure what direction I will head.  I can see myself with an engineering career, but I’m interested in other things, too.  I don’t feel pressured to get a job against my will, and I’m glad that I have options.  This is 2011, where almost no one is a lifetime employee at a single company anymore or even stays in the same field for their entire career.

If you really want to try out college or work towards another degree, consider a state university or other public institution until you’re certain what path to take.  If you’re unsure about the field you think you want to enter (which is perfectly fine; a lot of people are), test the waters at a more reasonably priced venue first.  There’s always the ability to transfer later.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from following their dreams here; I’m merely suggesting that all options be considered.  Before investing a lot of time and money, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, and always do what makes you happiest.

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photo by: sidewalk flying