For our weekend business readers:
ARE WE ON THE EDGE OF THE “FISCAL CLIFF?”
It’s a frightening scenario and AOL Finance paints a bleak picture of the economic hardships facing Americans come January 1, unless Congress moves to keep us from falling off the “fiscal cliff.”
In addition to the federal spending cuts, the Bush tax cuts that have been in effect since the early 2000s are also set to expire on the same day, automatically raising tax rates. So unless Congress acts, the federal government will start charging its citizens far more in an array of taxes and offering fewer services in exchange.
This, is the much-talked-of fiscal cliff. And for the average American family, it could be a pretty rough fall.
It gets worse with even more possible tax hikes, reduced funding for everything from public schools to homeland security, and slashed budgets.
For example, the Defense Department will see its budget cut by 10% across the board, a slash that will likely result in the shuttering or scaling back of hundreds of programs. And that will ripple through the economy in terms of job cuts, fewer workers spending less money, and in turn paying less into the system in taxes.
What’s more, when those defense workers lose their jobs, they’ll have to scramble for new work. Currently, unemployment benefits last for 99 weeks, but on Jan. 1, the limit will revert to 26 weeks. And that means an already-tight job market is about to get rougher as it is flooded with thousands of new unemployed at the same time that the currently jobless become a lot more desperate.
Can Congress reach a partisan decision to divert this approaching fiscal disaster and how did we get there in the first place? Read the AOL post to find out how much “falling off the cliff” could cost the average American household.
USE YOUR SMARTPHONE TO MAKE MONEY
The Wall Street Journal points out an ingenious way smartphone users can use apps to “moonlight” and put some of those pricey service plan dollars back in to your pocket. It’s simple really.
Companies hire you to do some pretty simple work using your iPhone or Android phone. You submit the work using these apps and you get paid via your PayPal account.
The Journal writer went to work with two free apps, EasyShift and Gigwalk. EasyShift is exclusive for iPhone users and Gigwalk performs for both Android and iPhone customers.
I focused my testing on similar jobs from both apps, doing beginner-level work that didn’t take more than 20 minutes per job. EasyShift focused on stock-checking tasks in grocery, convenience, drug and discount stores. Gigwalk lmatches businesses or people with workers, so its gigs, like taking menu photos for $4 or testing a mobile app for $20, vary more than EasyShift’s jobs.
These jobs can become addicting really quickly. The tasks I completed were easy and some were even fun, like answering a few questions and taking photos of energy drinks at CVS for $2.
Read the Journal article to get full instructions and find out how much you can make with “these easy jobs that add up quickly.”
LESSONS LEARNED FOR THE JANITOR/BANKER
Celie Niehaus is a banker and at one point she was also seriously in debt for living life too large. What did she do? She found a moonlighting janitor job “five nights a week, four hours a night” to solve her personal financial crisis.
I learned a lot about cleaning, believe me.
Fifty offices, every day… Empty their trash cans, vacuum, get on my hands and knees to clean the table. The glass would need to be fingerprint free.
The mopping, that’s not an easy job.
This intriguing story from Marketplace reads like a diary of Niehaus’s banker/janitor life and details her determined trek. Read the entire post to find out what other changes Niehaus made in her life to escape debt and how the experience compelled her to reach out to young people in need of financial advice.
SIMPLIFY FOR PROFITS
If that sounds a little overstated, it’s not says a writer for Harvard Business Review.
Using the example of three very successful companies and the simple strategies they used for dynamic growth, James Allen points out that things like pie charts and corporate strategy retreats may actually hinder bottom line goals.
The reason few companies implement such simple improvements isn’t a lack of good ideas, but because complexity traps and kills good ideas. This is particularly dangerous for today’s service industries.
The fastest way to kill a company is to allow a corporate army to bombard it with lengthy rulebooks and guidelines. However well-intended, such efforts are far removed from the real issues employees face every day. Worse, it can take takes months or even years to change those rules — far too long in a world where reacting faster than the competition is the key to survival.
Read the Review story to learn how to choose the right people to develop routines as well as simple but effective strategies that work to please customers and boost profits. Find out how much giving customers an ice-cold bottle of water helped sky rocket profits for one company.