Restaurant Staff Decides To Work For Tips Only To Save Business – Would You?

I just saw on the news this morning that 17 waitstaff workers at a pancake house in Michigan have told their boss that they will be working for tips only in order to help keep the place in business. Of course, along with this, they also get to keep their jobs too! And once their customers heard about this, they stepped up to the plate and started leaving bigger tips, as without the waitstaff doing this their favorite place might not be in business anymore. So my question to you is – would you do it too? I think I would if A. everyone else was doing it and B. it was a small, family-owned local business that my community patronized often. What do you think?


The Best Companies To Work For in 2009.

The Fortune Best Companies list is out for 2009, and even in this economy some of them are even hiring. If you are looking for a job, this list might be a good place to start seeing as how they are on the list of the best companies to work for in 2009. What makes a best company? The rankings take into account pay, benefits, work-life programs, diversity, availability of training, among some other items. Take a look at the top 10 for this year, and then click through to see the rest of the list. If I ever had to go back to a corporate gig, I would definitely check some of these out first in my job search!

1. NetApp – Employee enthusiasm for the legendary egalitarian culture helped catapult NetApp to No. 1 after six years on our list.
2. Edward Jones – Jones hired 698 new financial advisors in the first ten months of 2008 and is building an addition to its St. Louis headquarters for 500 new employees.
3. Boston Consulting – Management consultant has increased recruitment of minorities and offers first-class health insurance.
4. Google – While the company still attracts 777,000 applicants a year, hiring has slowed, and Google recently cut frills like afternoon tea and an annual ski trip.
5. Wegmans – Employees could buy gift cards of up to $250 at a 10% discount to help with food costs; Wegmans is also rolling out free yoga classes at each of its stores.
6. Cisco – CEO John Chambers is focusing on collaborative efforts to give employees more say in decision-making.
7. Genentech – Implemented retention bonuses and severance ranging from 18 to 52 weeks’ pay for anyone terminated after a merger.
8. Methodist Hospital – Methodist broke ground on $2 billion in construction in 2008, filled 300 new jobs, and awarded merit pay raises of 3%.
9. Goldman Sachs (Seriously?) – Wall Street survivor turned itself into a bank holding company in September and laid off some 3,000 people across the globe by year-end.
10. Nugget Market – Sales have yet to slump at this crazy-fun supermarket chain, which in 81 years has never had a layoff.

Do you work for any of these companies? And if so, are they all they are cracked up to be? Click here for all 100 of the best companies.


Ask The M-Network: Make Multiple Small Payments On Monthly Bills?

My Two Dollars reader Jaimie sent in the following question to the M-Network’s new feature “Ask The M-Network“:

I have always lived paycheck to paycheck. I am paid weekly and in extreme desire to enable financial security I have instituted a new budget plan. I pay a portion of every bill I have (utilities, car payments, credit cards, insurance, etc.) each and every week. I have worked this forward for a few months and it seems that if I stick to it strictly I will be doing very well. Is there any reason I should not do this?

Jaimie, I totally understand and even wrote about doing that for credit card debt in my series “The Get Out Of Credit Card Debt Challenge” as a way to make it easier to pay more each month. You might want to check out that series for a little more information. And here are the responses from several of the M-Network members to try to answer Jaimie’s question…

Plonkee Money says:

This sounds like a good idea I think. There are two potential flaws that I can see.

Firstly that you might fall off the bandwagon forget on week. That’s definitely the sort of thing I might do, and there’s a risk that you won’t get back on top of things quickly. You can try to prevent that by making as many payments as possible automatic. Secondly, some bills don’t allow you to pay more than once a month. I’m not sure whether you’ve already started on the plan, but if not you need to check your terms and conditions to see if that’s the case (or try calling and asking).

Patrick from Cash Money Life says:

Jamie, so long as your creditors allow multiple payments in a month, then I don’t see a problem with it. You can even come out ahead a little bit with your credit cards because the credit card companies are required to process your payments and apply the payment toward the principle the day they receive the payment (meaning your principle is lowered bit by bit, which reduces the amount of interest you are required to pay). The next thing I encourage you to do is to begin paying yourself as part of your weekly budget. Even if you are only able to put away a little bit, include yourself when you pay your bills. This will help you save up an emergency fund to help pay for those unexpected expenses. For a more long term financial goal, I encourage you to read about Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps, which is a financial plan that can help you achieve financial freedom step by step – starting with getting out of debt. Good luck!

Mrs. Micah says:

As long as it’s allowed and doesn’t incur any fees, then I think it’s an excellent idea. If a creditor doesn’t take weekly payments, then reserving that amount of money in the bank account (marking it for yourself, or using a subaccount if your bank allows for them) is another option. For instance, because it costs more to pay by the month, we put a portion of our renter’s insurance aside each money in an ING subaccount. You’ve noted that this takes discipline, so I encourage you to find ways to keep yourself doing it. For example, there are a number of excellent remidner systems out there like GoPingMe.com or Google Calendar which allow you to send reminders to yourself. I find them very helpful in keeping track of monthly bills or just remembering to bring the rent check to the office before the 1st.

The only way I see that you can improve on this is by finding small ways to pay yourself every week. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just little bits that add up. I’d keep that money in a separate account or use a spreadsheet/simple file to keep track of it. If you’re not familiar with the concept of snowflaking, I encourage you to check it out on Paid Twice. She has a number of excellent and encouraging articles.

Gather Little By Little says:

I don’t see any problem with it at all as long as your bills allow you to do this (as others have already said). It does seem to be fairly high maintenance though, but if it works for you and you can keep it up, great. The only downfall I see to this is that you’re losing interest if you’re paying bills early that don’t incur interest. Depending on how much money you keep in your accounts, this may not be a big deal. If it works for you and makes you feel good about what you’re doing, than do it!

Paid Twice says:

I don’t have a problem with it, but it seems a lot of work. And it also locks you into living forever in a paycheck to paycheck mentality. If the work involved in maintaining this system is not an issue, I’d keep it up for now, but slowly start to think beyond each paycheck and move towards living where paying bills isn’t directly, exactly tied to the money coming in *right now*.

Hope these answers can provide a little guidance, Jaimie. Do you have a question you would like to have us try to answer? Send it in to Ask The M-Network!

And please remember that our answers are opinions and should not be considered professional advice and we assume no responsibility of any kind. Please consult a certified financial expert as needed.


Where To Find Money To Start Your Own Business.

When looking for money to start a business, you have plenty of options to check out. Of course, not all of them will pan out, but if you open up your search to as many places as possible, chances are that you will be able to get some funding from somewhere. In this economic climate it can be difficult to secure the money you need, but there is definitely money out there to be had. The key is to having a solid plan that you can present to possible lenders; making them feel as though your idea will succeed goes a long way towards getting them to release the purse strings. I am writing this post from some personal experience of late, as my wife is finishing up her business plan for a small private Montessori School she wants to open here and will soon be presenting it in order to get some funding. Over the course of our discussion about this and in putting together her plan of action, here are the places she is going to look for money, in the order she is going to look.

  • Family – Her mother has already said she would loan her some start-up money, interest free, which is a great start. This amount of money will help to buy supplies and furniture for the school.
  • Friends – Her old boss from the private school in Los Angeles wants to help out as well, because she remembers when she was starting her own school. I guess she wants to return the karma! This is another great source of funds that comes with no strings attached and no interest.
  • Soliciting Donations – Because where we live is such a tight-knit community where everyone hears about everything you do, a new school might be seen as a good thing for wealthy donors to give money to and help create.
  • Bank Loans or SBA Loans – This is the next plan of attack, to look for low interest loans from either our local banks here in town or the Small Business Administration. Because we live in such a small town, our banks are solvent and willing to lend money, especially for education programs for our town. So this could be really great for her, to be able to borrow locally.
  • Peer to Peer Lending or Credit Cards – This is the last resort for finding money, and one that I don’t think she will have to resort to. There is nothing wrong with peer to peer lending (check out my review of Lending Club there) or using credit cards to start a business, as many people have done it successfully, but we both would like to avoid it. If we have to, we will definitely use 0% interest balance transfer cards though so we don’t have to pay interest right away.

So those are our (her) ideas at this point to get funding for her new small school. After doing all the research, she knows the market is here for a new Montessori school for little ones, so she just has to finish her business plan and then start presenting it. Exciting times may lay ahead, but I am sure it will all work out for the best – and then both of us will own our own businesses which will certainly change our lives for the better.

What about you? Have you ever looked for/received start-up funds from one of these sources or another I didn’t mention? What was your experience with them? Would appreciate hearing from you in the comments!


Sunday Money Roundup – New (Old) Jeep Edition.

OK, so it’s new to me, but still…last week I took delivery of my new ride, a 1995 Jeep YJ Rio Grande Edition. It has been totally rebuilt and restored and is in amazing condition for Jeep this old. I had an older CJ years ago that was a piece of garbage, but this thing is practically brand new. After going back and forth on buying a new car or buying used, I decided on used for 2 reason – 1. cost (paid cash) and 2. less environmental impact of used versus new. I certainly didn’t need a new car as I work from home, so I bought myself a good, solid Jeep to get me around and to have some fun this summer with. Cannot wait to take the top off of it in a few months! On to the roundup…

Jeff from Good Financial Cents has 5 budget pitfalls to avoid in 2009. Number 3 was always my downfall!

Money Ning gives out some advice on what to do when you lose your wallet. It’s always good to know these things ahead of time, so be sure to commit them to memory.

The Digerati Life has a guest post contributer with some tips about how to work full time while going to college. I got lucky in that I didn’t have to work, but I can see how it would be difficult to manage everything at once!

Patrick from Cash Money Life has a review of the discount broker Zecco. Sounds like a pretty good one if you need one!

Green Panda Treehouse has some thoughts on what everyone should know about handling finances during these economic times.

Madison from My Dollar Plan has the lowdown on how long you need to keep your records – everything from tax forms to car service records, it’s all here.

Four Pillars has an interesting article up about investing the down payment for your house in the stock market. Sounds pretty scary to me, and definitely not something we are doing with our down payment fund, especially right now!

Almost Frugal talks about drastic frugality. Hey, tough times need drastic changes, so be sure to take a look at this list.

Emily from Remodeling This Life helps those of you with house envy by telling you to Love Where You Live. I could not agree more – always wanting what someone else has is a recipe for a let down!

Antishay Ventenne asks a question many of us think – “What Rights Should Debtors Have?” Talk about a tough question, as it depends on so many variables. Shanti gives us her thoughts on the question and some of the variables…