How to Survive Life as a Server

One of the most difficult jobs in America is that of a server in a restaurant. Unlike hourly paid positions that offer stability in pay and the number of hours available each week, restaurant employees are offered inconsistent pay, unreliable shifts that are often at night, and an unusually hostile work environment. Many of those who are fresh out of college rely on these jobs in order to pay bills and afford to live while they scour wanted ads. If you are faced with the sticky situation of having to work in the food service industry while you look for more ideal work, here are some pointers on how to handle your finances:

Take Public Transportation

A lot of people who work in restaurants take out title loans in order to pay for things when business is not good. By not relying on a car and taking the bus, subway, or just walking to work, you can save on gas, car insurance, speeding tickets, maintenance, and a whole galaxy of other expenses.

Cut Out the Drinking

With all of the stress restaurant workers face, it is easy for them to hit the bottle every night in order to feel good about themselves. Many employees tend to over do it and rack up astronomical tabs at bars. If you are going to drink after work, you should purchase something at the grocery store instead of spending $6 on a beer or $11 on a cocktail.

Stop Going Out to Eat

Just like drinking, many people in the restaurant industry love to go out to eat. They just don't like the value menu at McDonald's, they like to visit fine dining establishments and try exotic cuisine that costs a lot of money. Instead of eating out all of the time, it is probably a good idea to order off of a fast food value menu.

Date Realistically

One of the most draining things that can happen to your bank account is falling in love. If you happen to fall in love with someone you work with, it will complicate things dramatically. Going to work will become more than just a way to make money, it will turn into a constant date and make it easier to get sick of each other. If the relationship ends, you are stuck in an awkward situation that puts your money-earning abilities in serious jeopardy.

Have a Backup Plan

Restaurant owners and managers are an extremely fickle group of people. They tend to freak out and stress over every minute detail and imagine that everything that the employees are up to is bad for business. Because of this, they usually enact inane and archaic rules that prohibit the personal development of their workers. It is very easy to lose your job if you have an open mind and use your critical thinking facilities quite often.

It is important to continue your education, develop new skills, and have other jobs lined up for when you meet the ultimate reality of the restaurant business. Working in a restaurant can be fast, exciting, and fun at times, but it is not a sturdy path for future development. Have your goals in mind and start thinking about what you really want to see, do, and accomplish.


When is Portfolio Diversification too Much?

In the interest of putting as much money into savings and investments as possible, households are doing everything they can during the present economic calamity. Individuals and couples alike are downsizing to one car, switching to prepaid phone plans, and moving into energy efficient apartments in order to put a few extra dollar into retirement.

On top of excessive saving, many are also trying to diversify their portfolio as much as possible. The markets have been suffering over the last couple of years, and many industries will most likely never return to their full splendor. Because no one necessarily knows the direction of any industry, diversifying a portfolio is smart and an old school lesson. We've all heard, “don't put all your eggs in one basket.”

However there is a time when portfolio diversification can become too much, and can in fact, become dangerous.

Because gold and other treasuries skyrocket in times of economic downturn, many investors have started putting a majority of their portfolios into them. They aren't doing this simply for diversification; they are hoping to hit the market while it is hot and make the biggest bang for their buck they can.

Others place a majority of their money in a variety of mutual funds that cover a wide range of different investments. While this may be good in theory, they often become so diverse that they are often impossible to manage. When you aren't able to effectively watch your investments, you could lose out on big payments or suffer losses that could have otherwise been avoided

So what is a responsible investor to do – especially in a market like this? Easy:

Balance Your Allocation

Every portfolio needs a strong balance of stocks and bonds to perform well, and each investor should create that balance based on their savings needs. Younger investors may benefit from having more stocks than bonds, while an older investor nearing retirement would benefit from the safety of having more bonds than stocks.

Mix it Up a Little

Once you have determined the right bond and stock mix for you, make sure that you are adequately diversified between each asset class. What this means is that you need to make investments that complement each other, so should one go down, the others will go up. An easy way to do this is to simply choose a total bond market index fund and a total stock market index fund.

Watch Your Steps

After you have adequate diversification, remain wary of doing so any more. While you may find other good investments that could yield high returns, you could also start spreading yourself too thin.

Creating a great portfolio is, of course, a great way to get to an enjoyable retirement. But before spreading yourself too thin through over-diversification, carefully review your portfolio. If you find that you have a strong balance of stocks and bonds that are appropriate for your age, and find that those stocks and bonds are a good balance of domestic and foreign, then leave your portfolio alone. You're already getting the most out of diversification.


Financial Security: Keeping Your Personal Information Safe

One of the best things you can do for your financial security is to protect your personal information. Scammers and identity thieves can use your personal financial information to help them get more money, leaving you to clean up a credit mess, and try to avoid being held liable for fraudulent purchases and new accounts.

Do Your Own Forensic Accounting

There are ways that you can keep your financial information safe so that you don't ever need a forensic accountant. Take a look:

Know Who You're Talking To on the Phone

Before you give out any financial information, make sure you know who you are talking to, and why they need your information. A reverse phone lookup can help you determine if someone is who he or she says. Check to see if the name and address on a public listing from a reverse phone directory matches. Or, if there is no public listing and only a private listing, it might indicate that someone shady doesn't want his or her true registered name known.

If you can't verify who you are talking to, don't give out any personal financial information. Even if you are pretty sure you know who it is, you need to be careful about what information you give out. Don't give full numbers -- even to someone you are pretty sure works for the bank or credit card company. These folks only need the last four digits of your account number, or your Social Security number, to verify your identity. Don't give out your information without having a very good reason to do so.

Protect Against Online Attempts to Steal Your Financial Information

In addition to make sure you are careful about what information you give out over the phone, you need to ensure that your information is safe online. Make sure that you only enter information into a secure site. A "lock" icon should be in the address bard of a secure site. Additionally, you can look at the URL for the "s" at the end of http. Any site that starts with "https" instead of "http" is usually considered secure.

You can also make sure that all the security software on your computer is up to date. That way, you will be less vulnerable to keyloggers, viruses and other malware. Be careful of using public computer wifi networks. It may seem like a lifesaver sometimes, but you should realize that many public networks have a very low level of encryption. Don't engage in matters of a financial nature while using a public network. That can make it easy for hackers and ID thieves to steal your identity -- or even get your username and password for visiting your bank web site. Once they have that information, it is usually a simple matter to begin draining your bank account.

There is no way to completely protect yourself. However, it is posssible to redcue the chances that you will be a victim. By protecting your prviate personal information, and being very picky about whom you give access to information about yourself, you can decrease the chance that you will be a victim of a financially costly scam.