What are bonds

Financial Independence 101: What are Bonds?

This is a continuation of my Financial Independence blog posts related to financial education. I’m creating the blogs so that our two sons that will be graduating college soon will have a better understanding of personal finance.

Financial Independence 101: What are Bonds?

Investors tend to talk about buying and selling stocks and bonds. But what is a bond?

Bonds are simply a loan or an IOU, but you serve as the bank. 

Stocks and bonds are the primary ways companies raise money to grow their business. As discussed in our last blog post, when you purchase stock, you are purchasing ownership in the company. When you purchase bonds, you are lending money to the company and receive interest payments on that investment.

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Bonds have a fixed term (called a maturity date), normally 5 to 20 years but companies that issue bonds may “call them” (purchase them back) prior to maturity.

Related Post: Financial Independence 101: What are Stocks?

Who Issues Bonds?

Both companies and the government issue bonds to finance projects. Municipal bonds are issued by city and state governments. The US government issues Savings Bonds, Treasury securities, T-Bills and Treasury Bonds.

Why buy Bonds?

Buying bonds is a defensive play when you are building a balanced portfolio. Generally, the value of a bond rises when interest rates fall and fall when interest rates rise. So normally if the stock market starts to tank, your bond values will rise, protecting you from the ups and downs of the stock market.

When the stock market tanked in August of 2015, the value of my stock index mutual funds tanked but my bond index funds did well. This was my protection. Because we are retired, I draw money from our retirement portfolio every so often to pay for our living expenses. Since our stock funds were down, I could cash in some of our bond funds if I needed cash, and we would not lose money from the stocks that were in decline at the moment.

How do you purchase bonds?

Bonds are sold through brokerage accounts (Fidelity, Vanguard or some other financial institution).  You can also purchase government bonds directly from the US Treasury at TreasuryDirect, but I recommend having an investment account (like Fidelity). Once you have an account, you can buy and sell stock and bonds online. This account will become your portal to financial independence.

Is it risky to purchase bonds?

Bonds are much less risky than stocks but do not normally produce as high of a return. Again, it is your defensive play for when the stock market is in decline. One of the drawbacks of investing in bonds is that they have a set maturity date, so you cannot sell them at will.

Bond mutual funds solve this issue. A bond mutual fund is a collection of bonds (normally hundreds of bonds) that allow you to buy or sell at any time. The mutual fund is managed by a company and you pay a small fee to the mutual fund management company for having them manage it. The amount you pay is called the expense ratio, so look for mutual funds with low expense ratios (I look for those with an expense ratio of .15% or less).

Conclusion

Now that you have an understanding of bonds and financial freedom, let’s get to the bottom line. Once you start your career, set aside money for savings and have that money automatically deducted from your paycheck. Start with 15% of your paycheck, more if you can swing it.

Open up a Fidelity account and begin contributing money to a few mutual funds. If you want to really diversify, I suggest these 4 mutual funds to invest equal amounts in:

  • FUSVX – Invests in S&P 500 stocks
  • FSEVX – invests in smaller yet stable companies
  • FSITX – Invests in bonds (note: if you are young and have 30 or more years before you retire, you may consider delaying the purchase of bonds for a while since you will not care as much about market fluctuations).
  • FSIVX – Invests in international stocks (like those in Europe).

Finally, track your budget and investments with an online tool. Personal Capital is an excellent tool for this and best of all, it’s free**. This is a great start to financial independence!

** Note: I have no affiliation with Fidelity nor do I get any compensation, I am just more familiar with their services than other investment companies so that is why I recommend them in this article. I am an affiliate for Personal Capital, it is a totally free and superior way to keep watch over your investments. I would never recommend anything that I don’t personally use and completely believe in, so give it a try.

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

What do you think of these financial independence training articles? Leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts!

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The American Dream is Alive and Well

The Money Mine is a personal finance blogger who blogs about financial independence and retiring early (FI/RE). Many of his readers are focusing on frugal living to become financially independent so he wanted a different perspective from an entrepreneur that has lived the American dream.

He asked if I would write a guest blog that explains how I built a software company, sold it, and retired.

The Money Mine: The American Dream is Alive and Well

Live the American Dream

Without further ado, here is the article, I hope you enjoy it:

http://www.themoneymine.com/early-retirement-from-the-sale-of-a-multi-million-dollar-business-with-steve-miller/

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

What do you think of these financial independence training articles? Leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts!

Follow me: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  LinkedIn  |  Subscribe to this Blog

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App Review: aMemoryJog Password Manager App

Today’s app review is for the aMemoryJog password manager app. If you’re like me, you probably have tons of information that you use from time-to-time that are important yet easy-to-forget. Stuff like account numbers, WiFi codes, loyalty account numbers can be put into aMemoryJog and you can whip out your phone and quickly find any information.

What the aMemoryJog Password Manager App Is

First, full disclosure. Unlike the other apps on the Cool Apps section of this blog, I designed and created the aMemoryJog  password manager app so this review may seem a bit biased. However, I created the app because I wanted a more affordable way to store easy-to-forget info, so on with the review.

The aMemoryJog  password manager app is all about securely organizing information that’s easy-to-forget. For example, we have a storage unit where we store some stuff for a house we are building. The code to enter the storage unit is long and is not memorable. I put that code into aMemoryJog and when I am at the unit, I simply whip out my phone to recall it.

aMemoryJog Password Manager App

Using it for storage codes is just an example. I use it for tracking VIN and tag numbers for my automobiles, banking codes, software license codes and much more. I use it so much, I wrote a blog about how using it is like using a Swiss Army knife.

My son is in college and he swears by it — he uses it to track all his passwords and school information. Lots of others like it as well, about 1,000 new users come on board every month.

aMemoryJog - Best Password Manager for iPhone

One the coolest features is that it works as an app for the iPhone but also has a web edition so if you are at your computer, you can quickly pull up your information using your web browser. But if you’re away from your computer, you can pull out your phone and see the same information because it seamlessly syncs together.

aMemoryJog Password Manager Web Edition

Who Made aMemoryJog

Yours truly made the aMemoryJog password manager app under my company name Flip Flop Software. Hey, I live at the beach and rarely wear shoes so my company is aptly named.

Why aMemoryJog is Awesome

I wanted to offer an alternative to the big password managers (you know them: 1Password, Dashlane, Keeper, etc.). Those are all great apps but here’s how aMemoryJog is different:

  • There is a totally free edition that works well for lots of people. The free edition is not limited by the number of items than can be stored, however, it does not sync with the web edition unless you purchase the paid edition.
  • The competitors tend to get pricey. If you decide to purchase the aMemoryJog iPhone edition, you get a free 1-year subscription to the web edition. Likewise, if you buy a 1-year subscription to the web edition, you get the iPhone edition for free. The competitors normally charge you for the web edition separately and the cost is normally much higher.
  • The aMemoryJog password manager app has a recycle bin, so if you mistakenly delete an item, you can restore it. None of the competitors have that feature.
  • The aMemoryJog password manager app has a remote self-destruct feature. God forbid, what if your iPhone gets lost or stolen, you will probably be sweating someone getting into your password manager. With aMemoryJog, if that happens, you just log into the web edition and set it to automatically wipe out the aMemoryJog data on the iPhone (which you can later restore if you buy a new phone). Pretty cool stuff.

Download FREE edition for iPhone | Download PAID edition for iPhone | Signup for Web Edition

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence, and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

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WordPress SEO: 10 Tips to Boost your Google Ranking

You spend countless hours tweaking your web pages and blog posts, but are you making them easy to find in Google, Bing, and the major search engines? In this post, we will discuss tools and best practices for optimizing your rankings. I use WordPress for our blog (here’s why), but the techniques discussed here works regardless of what blogging tool you use.

Tip 1 – WordPress SEO: Target a single keyword phrase

When creating a blog post, think of what the main focus of the article is. In this blog post, my focus phrase is “WordPress SEO” because by focusing on a single keyword phrase, I can optimize the content for that phrase and drive more targeted traffic.

Tip 2 – Include the keyword phrase in the blog title

Once you’ve decided on the keyword phrase, put that phrase in the title of your post and as close to the beginning of the title as possible. Notice in this post, my title is “WordPress SEO: 10 Tips to Boost your Google Ranking“, so the keyword phrase “WordPress SEO” is at the beginning of the title.

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Tip 3 – Include the keyword phrase in an early heading tag

Notice the first bolded section of this post “Tip 1 – WordPress SEO: Target a single keyword phrase” is created as an H2 (heading 2) and contains the word “WordPress SEO” close to the beginning of that H2 tag. When Google and other search engines crawl your post, it looks for important words (those that are used in the title, H1/H2/H3 header tags, and words that are used repeatedly throughout the post).

By finding a high-density word, it assumes that this word or phrase must be what the article is about and provides a better ranking.

Tip 4 – Bold your keyword phrase

Notice that I mention the word “WordPress SEO” several times during this blog. By bolding the word, the search engines figure it is an important word.

Tip 5 – Include a META description containing your keyword

In HTML, the meta description tag is shown when people find your blog posting in a search engine, it is the description it provides there. Here is an example of the tag:

<meta name=”description” content=”Use these tips to Improve your WordPress SEO and to boost your Google ranking for a specific keyword phrase. Yoast SEO for WordPress makes this much easier.”>

When creating the meta description:

  • Keep the description to 156 characters or less because that’s the maximum characters shown by search engines.
  • Include your keyword phrase in the description, as close to the beginning as possible.
  • Use as much of the 156 characters as possible to target your keyword phrase and explain your blog post.
  • Be sure your description sounds like a normal sentence, don’t just put your keyword phrase into the text over and over in a nonsensical manner.

Related Post: Success stories for driving more blog visits

Tip 6 – Include images in your blog post

Images inside your post get indexed by search engines, so put as many images in your blog post as is feasible. You will notice at the end of this blog post, I put in several images that show how to use Yoast SEO.

When you include an image, name the image something that includes your keyword and use the IMG ALT tag to describe your image and include your keyword phrase there, here is an example:

<img src=“WordPress-SEO-Yoast-General-Settings.gif” alt=“Wordpess SEO – How to use the General Settings tab in Yoast SEO”>

Tip 7 – Include Facebook Sharing

Include the ability for users to share your blog post via Facebook. When doing this, include a strong Facebook image, title, and description; each of those should have your keyword phrase included.

Facebook Image:
If you include a Facebook and Twitter image for your post, it will generate more reads. According to Buffer Social, including a photo in your tweets increases retweets by 35%.

I normally put together a special image for this (440×220 is the optimal size), here is an example for this post:

Wordpress SEO Boost Google Rankings

Facebook title example:
How to use Yoast SEO for WordPress SEO to boost your Google rank.

Facebook description example:
WordPress SEO is an important consideration if you would like to increase your Google ranking for a specific blog post or web page. This article explains best practices for implementing WordPress SEO.

Tip 8 – Include Twitter Sharing

Similar to the Facebook sharing tip, do the same for Twitter. With Twitter, make your title and description shorter, as you only have 144 characters to work with (less when you include an image). Also, use one or more tags to improve Twitter SEO.

Twitter Image:
Use the same one as Facebook.

Twitter title example:
WordPress SEO: Boost rankings

Twitter description example:
Techniques for boosting #Wordpress #SEO

Related Post: Success stories for driving more blog visits

Tip 9 – Use Yoast SEO for WordPress SEO

All of the things mentioned in this article can be done with or without WordPress. However, using WordPress can make your life easier because it provides lots of plugins to make maintaining your site a breeze.

If you are using WordPress and are hosting the site, consider using the Yoast SEO plugin. With this plugin, you can easily make your blog post SEO friendly. Download the Yoast SEO plugin (it’s free) and install it using these instructions.

Once it is installed, write your first blog post, then scroll to the bottom of your post, you will notice the Yoast SEO General Settings panel. From here, you can specify the focus keyword, SEO Title, and SEO Description:

Wordpress SEO Yoast SEO General Settings

Notice how I filled in all of the information described in this blog post. Once you’ve done this, click the Social tab of the Yoast SEO panel:

Wordpress SEO Yoast SEO Social Settings

Finally, you can check how well you did by clicking the Page Analysis tab within Yoast SEO.

Wordpress SEO Yoast SEO Page Analysis

Overall, it gives me a good SEO ranking for this page. However, notice the first warning “the slug for this page is a bit long, consider shortening it”. The “slug” is simply the file name for the post. In my case, WordPress made the filename the same as the blog’s title (wordpress-SEO-10-tips-to-boost-your-google-ranking) so I tapped the edit button and renamed it to “wordpress-seo-tips-for-google”:

Editing the Slug for WordPress SEO

Tip 10 – Market your blog post to drive more traffic

Until a couple of months ago, I would post a blog and wait for the traffic to roll in. I certainly did not break any readership records with this approach so I started researching ways to increase readership of my blog posts. By following the tips below, I increased my average blog reads by 5 times once I started implementing these techniques, here is a graph to prove it:

Blog readership increased 5 times

Publicizing your Blog Post

Once you post your blog, do these things to publicize it:

  1. Social Sharing – Post the blog post to your social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Pinterest) — be sure to include an image with your post to gain a 35% increase in retweets.
  2. Viral Sharing – Use ViralContentBuzz.com to allow others to retweet your blog post in return for retweeting blog posts that would be of interest to your readers.
  3. StumbleUpon – Post your page to Stumble Upon so that others can stumble onto it, here is an example of one I’ve posted.
  4. Blog Spot – Post your blog post to BlogSpot, here is an example of how I this for a prior post.
  5. Tumblr – Post your blog to Tumblr, here  is an example.
  6. Medium – Post your blog to Medium, here is an example, Try to find a publication with related articles and ask the editor if they will post your articles.
  7. Google Plus – A Google Plus posting tends to get better rankings with the Google search engine because they are owned by the same company, so be sure to post a link to your blog post there several times within the week of publishing it so that you can drive more organic traffic. Here are some example posts I’ve created there.
  8. Find Related WordPress Blogs – Now that you have your keyword phrase, find other people’s blogs that compliment yours. You can find this with this URL: http://www.Wordpress.com/tags/[tagname], here is an example: http://www.wordpress.com/tags/seo. This will bring up a list of blogs that posted about SEO. I read the posts and LIKE the ones I find interesting. If appropriate, I will also add a comment to their blog that tells them why I liked their blog post and tell them I have a blog that expands on SEO and provide a link to my blog post within the comment. By LIKING the post, the author will most likely check out your blog. By posting a comment with a link to your blog, the author’s readers may check out your blog post.
  9. Find Recent Posts via Google – Similar to the finding related WordPress blogs, you can do the same with Google. Search Google for a specific keyword (WordPress SEO in this case). Once it lists the sites targeting this keyword phrase, show only the ones posted in the last week so that you are finding recent posts:Use Google to Find Related Sites for WordPress SEO

    Once you filter the list, look at each article that catches your interest, like their article, and comment (with a link to your blog post) if appropriate.

Conclusion

By following the tips in this article, you will begin ranking higher in Google and will drive more readers to your website or blog. By driving more traffic to your blog, your Alexa ranking will increase and it will snowball into more people finding your blog.

Related Post: Success stories for driving more blog visits

P.S. Can I ask a Favor?
Leave a comment and let me know tips you’ve found to increase the number of readers to your blog or website.

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence, and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

Follow me: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  LinkedIn  |  Subscribe to this Blog

Financial Independence 101: What are Stocks?

Our two sons are in their final stretch of college and will be graduating next year. College is great but unless you major in finance, you don’t always get a good understanding of personal finance so I will be talking about these subjects in upcoming Financial Independence blogs.

Financial Independence: What are stocks

Financial Independence 101: What are Stocks?

You probably know people who talk about financial independence and are “in the stock market”. They tend to talk about buying and selling stock. But what is stock?

Stock is simply ownership of a company, so if you have multiple stock owners (shareholders), each own a certain percentage of the company and will benefit as their earnings increase through sales and marketing. 

Stock ownership is a key ingredient on your path to financial independence.

Related Blog: Financial Independence 101: What are Bonds?

Do limited liability companies issue stock?

Not all companies issue stock. Small companies structured as a limited liability company (LLC) do not have stock because they don’t want to sell stock to raise money (capital).

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Private versus Public Corporations

Companies that plan to raise capital will structure themselves as a corporation and will issue stock. Corporations can be private or public.

Private corporations don’t sell their stock in the stock market. Instead, they issue shares of stock to the founders and sometimes early employees as an incentive to stick around and help grow the company into something larger. If they later sell the company or go public, their stock can be liquidated into cash at that time.

When we owned our last company, we structured it as a private corporation, with my wife and me owning all of the stock. Once we sold the company, the acquiring company paid us for the stock, allowing us to retire and achieve financial independence.

Once a company grows, it may decide to become a public corporation. This means that it will sell its stock in the stock market so that others can purchase it. You may remember hearing about companies going public (think Microsoft, Facebook, etc.) and pushing key employees into financial independence. This is because they owned stock and when the company went public, they could then sell their stock for the market price on the stock exchange.

How do you purchase stock?

Stocks are sold on the stock market exchanges, with the New York stock exchange and NASDAQ being the most popular. To purchase stock, you simply need an account with Fidelity, Vanguard or some other financial institution. Once you have an account, you can buy and sell stock online. This account will become your portal to financial independence.

Is it risky to purchase stock?

It can be risky to purchase a stock because if the company goes belly up, you lose all your money. Imagine investing in Circuit City, they were darlings of the stock market and after being in business for 60 years, they went out of business in 2009. All of the shareholders lost their money.

The reason to purchase stock is that it can be a lucrative tool to help you achieve financial independence. With risk comes rewards. Since 1900, investors have averaged a 7% return on their stock investments per year. That’s a lot better than putting it into a savings account that returns less than 1% per year.

How can you make stocks less risky?

As discussed earlier, if you invest in a single stock, the company could go out of business and you lose all your money. To minimize that risk, it’s a good idea to invest in multiple stocks so that you spread the risk. But to really spread your risk, you need to invest in 100 or more stocks. This can be time-consuming and difficult to manage.

Mutual funds solve this issue. A mutual fund is a collection of stocks (normally hundreds of stocks) that allow you to reduce your risk. The mutual fund is managed by a company and you pay a small fee to the mutual fund management company for having them manage it. The amount you pay is called the expense ratio, so look for mutual funds with low expense ratios (I look for those with an expense ratio of .15% or less).

What is the Dow Jones and S&P 500?

The Dow Jones is an index that shows how 30 large publicly traded companies have fared over time. Companies in the Dow Jones include 3M, Apple, Boeing, American Express and other large companies.

The Standard and Poor’s (or S&P 500) is an index that shows how 500 large companies have fared over time. If the S&P 500 index goes up on a particular day, it means that on average, the 500 stocks in that index went up as a group. Some may have gone down, some may have gone up, but as a group they are worth more than yesterday.

How do you make money in the stock market?

Stocks and mutual funds are traded on the stock exchanges and you purchase them for a specific price. For example, one of my mutual funds has a stock ticker of FUSVX. It is a Fidelity mutual fund that invests in stocks that belong to the S&P 500. It is currently selling for $69.34 per share.

When I initially purchased this 5 years ago, I purchased it for a much lower price than it is selling for today. In fact, it has provided a 15% return each year, averaged over those 5 years. So if I had bought $1,000 of that mutual fund 5 years ago, it would be worth about $2,011 right now. In other words, I would have more than doubled my money. Doubling your money is the path to financial independence!

This is because the price it is selling for now is higher than when I purchased it. So if you purchase a stock or mutual fund and the price goes up, you make money. If the price goes down below what you paid for it, you lose money.

A final way you can make money with stock is through dividends. You can think of dividends as profit-sharing. If a company does well, it wants to reward its investors (shareholders) with some of those profits. Some stocks and mutual funds will pay dividends as they generate profits. Some will pay monthly, some quarterly and some yearly. The dividends can be cashed out or you can automatically reinvest them into buying more stock, it is up to you.

Dividends will become an important part of your retirement plan once you reach financial independence because they provide passive income.

Conclusion

Now that you have an understanding of stocks and financial freedom, let’s get to the bottom line. Once you start your career, set aside money for savings and have that money automatically deducted from your paycheck. Start with 15% of your paycheck, more if you can swing it.

Open up a Fidelity account and begin contributing money to a few mutual funds. If you want to really diversify, I suggest these 4 mutual funds to invest equal amounts in:

  • FUSVX – Invests in S&P 500 stocks
  • FSEVX – invests in smaller yet stable companies
  • FSITX – Invests in bonds (see related blog post)
  • FSIVX – Invests in international stocks (like those in Europe).

Finally, track your budget and investments with an online tool. Personal Capital is an excellent tool for this and best of all, it’s free**. This is a great start to financial independence!

If you would like a visual introduction to stocks, watch this Kahn Academy video.

** Note: I have no affiliation with Fidelity nor do I get any compensation, I am just more familiar with their services than other investment companies so that is why I recommend them in this article. I am an affiliate for Personal Capital, it is a totally free and superior way to keep watch over your investments. I would never recommend anything that I don’t personally use and completely believe in, so give it a try.

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

What do you think of these financial independence training articles? Leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts!

Follow me: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  LinkedIn  |  Subscribe to this Blog

App Review: Fitness Buddy

Today’s app review is for the Fitness Buddy app. Whether you workout in a gym or if you have a home gym, workout routines can get stale. With Fitness Buddy , you can  quickly create new workout routines to keep your workouts fresh and fun.

What Fitness Buddy Is

The Fitness Buddy app is all about improving your fitness. It allows you to build a custom workout routine for specific body parts and for different fitness levels. When you start, you can choose  beginner, intermediate or advance levels workouts or you can choose a workout to support a specific goal (like weight loss or improved muscle definition).

Choose your fitness level with Fitness Buddy

It then creates an exercise routine based on your criteria and shows you each exercise in the routine. If you don’t like a specific exercise, you can easily change to one you enjoy.

Fitness Buddy creates exercise routines by body part

One the coolest features is the instructional video. For each exercise, it provides an animation that shows you exactly how to perform it.

Fitness Buddy has instructions for each exercise

Who Made Fitness Buddy

Azumio Inc. is the developer of Fitness Buddy. Azumio is headquartered in Palo Alto, California and is the leading app developer for fitness mobile apps. With over 70 million downloads to date, Azumio is dedicated to the improvement of people’s health and livelihood by influencing healthy behavior through the use of innovative mobile applications.

Why Fitness Buddy is Awesome

Fitness Buddy is awesome because it does not matter if you go to a gym to workout or workout at home, you can easily find a workout routine that you will enjoy. And you can rotate the routines monthly to keep the workouts fresh and fun.

Download for iPhone  |  Android

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

Follow me: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  LinkedIn  |  Subscribe to this Blog

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Wanderlust began 26 Years ago

If you look up Wanderlust in the dictionary, it is defined as: “a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.

Our First Taste of Wanderlust

It was 26 years ago in 1989 and I was working as a software engineer at Perot Systems (now Dell). My wife, Lynn, had an incredible job at ABC News, working as a financial analyst for their news division.

This was before Ross Perot ran for president, he was building his next computer company after selling EDS for $2.5 billion and I was working on his first major account. We worked like crazy, normally 16 to 18 hours a day trying to ensure Ross’s first account was successful.

It was almost Christmas and Lynn and I were burned out. We decided to book our first trip out of the country, to Jamaica. We chose Sandals in Ocho Rios because it was relatively inexpensive and an all-inclusive resort.

Wanderlust in Sandals Resort Ocho Rios

This was our first taste of the tropics. I grew up on a farm in Georgia and Lynn in Detroit. Both of us were from hard working middle class families, so we never experienced international travel as kids. We were in our late 20’s and this trip planted the seeds for of our love of travel.

Wanderlust - Sailing on a catamaran

Neither of us had ever sailed before either. We booked an excursion for an evening sail with rum punch flowing and reggae blaring.

Dancing to Raggae

During the day, we would hang out at the pool, play volleyball, enjoy water sports and take advantage of unlimited cocktails.

Ocho Rios Sandals pool

We would also take excursions (like our trip to Dunn’s River Falls). Check out the huge video camera the guy was holding. Hey, it was still the 80’s!

Wanderlust in Ocho Rios - Dunn's River Falls

At night, we would watch the locals put on a show.

Fire Dancers in Ocho Rios

Although we didn’t know it then, this was the beginning of our wanderlust. Since then, we have traveled to 22 countries and that number grows each year. We love learning about different cultures, seeing new things, and embracing new experiences.

That’s what lifestyle freedom is all about.

Have you ever experienced wanderlust? Leave a comment to let me know!

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

Follow me: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  LinkedIn  |  Subscribe to this Blog

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I sold my Business 6 Years ago Today

Today marks the 6 year anniversary of selling my business and reaching financial independence.  We closed the deal on September 11, 2009, I was nervous about closing on September 11 because of the 2001 World Trade Center disaster but decided that this could be positive. A new way of remembering 9/11.

Celebrating the selling of the business

Leading up to the sell was a bit unnerving. Even though I built the business with the end in mind, I still felt like I was selling my baby. Should I keep it a few more years and continue to grow it? What happens if a larger competitor comes along and squashes us?

These are the kind of emotions you feel when you are approached about selling your business. You feel a pain in your gut, a nagging voice in the back of your head saying “Am I making the right decision?”  “What will I do with my days?”,

Fast Forward 6 Years after I sold my Business

Reflecting back, I had fears about selling.

Will my Product Continue to Grow?

It has grown much faster than if I had not sold it. The acquiring company has more resources to commit to it and has done a great job increasing the market share.

aMemoryJog - Best Password Manager for iPhone

Will my Employees Thrive once I Leave?

Only one of my original employees currently work for the acquiring company. If I had foreseen that when I was contemplating selling, I would have freaked out. However, that actually worked out to be positive. Each former employee has an even better job, making more money and with more responsibility. So it was just a natural progression of their career path.

Will I Get Bored Being Retired?

I thought I would really miss being in the corporate world but the reverse is true. I love being able to craft my day the way I wish. I can exercise in the middle of the day, golf when it’s less crowded and volunteer when I feel inspired.

I can also work on projects that really inspire me without the need for a steady paycheck. I’m now developing mobile apps in my spare time and blogging a lot. My wife and I also travel a lot. I’m not bored at all.

Conclusion

If you’re an entrepreneur that has built a business than can provide financial independence and are faced with a decision to sell, believe me, it works out just fine!

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

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How to Build a Product Website for your App

This blog is all about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and cool mobile apps. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that I build mobile apps as a side hustle to supplement income for my early retirement.

Many people are surprised to know that building an app does not require programming skills. I haven’t written a single line of code for my apps. Instead, I subcontracted that work out and documented the exact process I follow.

If you develop an app, it is imperative to create a product website for your app. Why? Because people often search Google for apps and having a product site will increase the number of people who find and download your app.

How to Build your App Product Website

I highly suggest you use WordPress to build your product site. Here’s why:

  • The WordPress engine is free
  • WordPress allows you to categorize posts and include links to recent posts
  • WordPress allows people to sign up to receive your posts via email
  • WordPress allows people to search your posts via the search widget
  • WordPress allows you to create pages without any HTML or programming knowledge
  • Most WordPress sites work well for mobile devices as well as web browsers

OK, the advantages of using WordPress are clear. To get started, simply go to http://www.WordPress.com and click Create Website.

aMemoryJog - Best Password Manager for iPhone

Customizing your WordPress Site

Once you create the website, you can customize the look with WordPress themes. Some of them are free, but if you are really serious about developing a site that will attract lots of attention and be visually appealing, you should consider purchasing a WordPress theme.

I use Template Monster because they have themes for pretty much any look you are going for and they normally cost about $75. That’s a lot less than you would pay a professional website designer to create a site for you. To get started, click here and view the templates.

Hosting your WordPress Site

When you create a site in WordPress, they offer free hosting and this works absolutely fine when you are first getting started. However, I like to plan for the future by hosting the site myself. By doing this, you get more control over your WordPress site and you can include advertising in the future. If you self-host, It will normally run faster too.

One of the things you will want to consider is creating a blog in addition to your product page so that you can build an audience and loyal fans. Once you begin building followers of your product and blog, you can advertise on those pages and drive an extra revenue stream for your business. You can’t do that with a free WordPress account but you can by hosting your own site.

I use Winhost to host my WordPress sites because it is economical (about $3.95 per month) and it supports .NET, PHP, and includes the ability to create your own MS SQL and MySQL databases. This can be valuable if you later decide to add web services to your apps or want to sync your app data to the cloud. So it supports not only your WordPress site but also your app development efforts.

Installing your WordPress site on Winhost is pretty easy to do (it takes less than an hour), here is a tutorial.

Structuring your Product Website

When you are in the development stage of your app, I suggest you create a simple product website that allows people to sign up for your beta once your app is in that stage. By doing this, you will get some great feedback before moving to the app store and you will gain loyal followers that may evangelize your app within their circle of friends.

I am in that stage with my Count Us Down app. Notice from the website, the users can enter their contact info to sign up for the beta. In just a few weeks, I had about 100 beta testers signed up, here is my sign-up page:

Product Website for Count Us Down app

I use a free tool called Zoho CRM to keep track of people who sign up for the beta.  Zoho CRM allows you to embed sign up screens into your WordPress site and when  someone signs up for your beta, it keeps track of them and sends them a welcome email. It is free for up to 10 users, so indie appreneurs will probably not outgrow the free version.

In addition to including a sign up for beta, I also suggest including these pages on your product website:

  • Blog – Build loyal fans by including a blog
  • Products – If you offer more than one app for sale, include information about each app. If you only have the one app, include information about your app, features, and links for downloading it.
  • Press Kit – You will want the press to talk about your app so include app descriptions, screen shots and press releases here.
  • Support – You will want your users to submit bugs and feature requests to you. I use Zendesk for this. It is an excellent support tool and is only $1 per month.

If you would like to see an example of an app that is already in the app store, here is the website for my password management app (aMemoryJog). Notice that it has the same links (Home, Blog, Products, Press Kit, Support).

Product Website for aMemoryJog app

Using YouTube

I also suggest you create a video that shows how your app works. I use Camtasia for to create my app video but you can use a free tool called Jing. Once done, you can upload it to YouTube and people can view it from there.

When creating your video, focus on how the app will benefit the user, don’t focus on every feature of the app. When I first created my video for the Count Us Down app, I sent it to about 10 appreneurs that I respected. I got some candid (and harsh) comments and recreated the video several times before I feel that I nailed it (watch it here).

By uploading your app video to YouTube, you will also build additional followers which leads to more downloads.

Conclusion

By creating a product website, you will increase your downloads and fan loyalty. In summary:

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

Follow me: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  LinkedIn  |  Subscribe to this Blog

 

App Review: Golf GPS

Today’s app review is for the Golf GPS app. I have been using this app since October 2013 and it tracks my golf scores, handicap, and provides statistics that show what my average strokes are on a specific hole on a specific golf course.

What Golf GPS Is

The Golf GPS app is all about improving your golf handicap. It tracks scores, handicap and provides statistics for each hole played. You can even track how many times you hit the fairway on your drive, how often you 3-putt and other interesting stats.

Golf GPS golf stats

But I think the best feature is the GPS. You simply walk up to your ball, tap the hole on the score card and it shows you the distance to the pin. It also shows you distances to specific areas of the fairway (like distance to a stream or other impediment).

Golf GPS yardage

To get started, you simply download it, tap Courses then it will show you all the golf courses in near you. Once you find the one you are about to play, tap to Download the score card. Once you have downloaded the score card once, you never have to do it again.

Golf GPS scorecard

Once you have the course score card downloaded, simply tap Rounds to start tracking your score. You can track scores for yourself and for others.

Who Made Golf GPS

StrackaLine is the developer of Golf GPS. StrackaLine was founded in 2007 by father and son, Jim and Chase Stracka. Both are avid golfers and set off on the project to combine their expertise in technology with their passion for the game of golf.

Why Golf GPS is Awesome

Golf GPS app is awesome because you can keep all of  your golf rounds in a single app, allowing you to go back and see what you’ve scored over the past year or so. But even more impressive is the GPS. It’s great to simply walk up on your ball and know exactly how far it is to the pin.

Download for iPhone

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

Follow me: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  LinkedIn  |  Subscribe to this Blog

aMemoryJog - Best Password Manager for iPhone