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Four of Cupcake Digital’s children’s apps were recently named Parent’s Choice Award winners.

The Parents’ Choice Foundation is the nation’s oldest nonprofit guide to quality children’s media and toys. Parents’ Choice Award Seals are  internationally recognized and respected icons of quality. The Foundation’s product evaluation process addresses: developmentally appropriate content and challenges; design and function; educational value; long-term play value; and benefits to a child’s social and emotional growth and well being.

The four apps that received the Parent’s Choice Classic, Fun Stuff Award are “Wubbzy’s Pirate Treasure,” “Wubbzy’s Space Adventure,” “Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas” and “Wubbzy’s Train Adventure”. Each of these apps was produced in 2012 for children around the world to interact with one of children’s favorite television characters, Wubbzy.

Cupcake Digital has been lauded as one of the top app companies, winning awards like the AppySmart’s Editor’s Favorite for Wubbzy’s Fire Engine and Wubbzy’s Night Before Christmas, and garnering dozens of favorable reviews around the Internet, including iPad Kids, Jellybeans Tunes, Appolicious, Rock-A-Bye Parents, AOL Tech, Wired and many more.

Cupcake Digital’s apps blend entertainment with learning moments in fun stories about Wubbzy and his friends. Recent Wubbzy apps include games and activities designed help prepare preschoolers to meet the Common Core State Standards required for kindergarten and first grade. Each Wubbzy app comes packed with extras, from the much-lauded “Grown-Up’s Corner” that encourages discussion about the story between an adult and child to bonus music videos and coloring pages.

We take great pride in being awarded the 2013 Parent’s Choice Class, Fun Stuff Award!

Read more about the award here. 

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August 2012

Did you know that the average wedding costs $27,021, the average college graduate leaves school with $23,200 in student loans and the average Senator is worth $13.2 million?  Well, it’s true.  And so are many other interesting facts and figures we’ve compiled this summer in our series of infographics at YoBucko.  Here are links to some of the latest infographics to check out and share with your friends.

Latest Infographics

How Much is Washington Worth?
Student Loan Debt Statistics
How Much the Average Wedding Costs
How to Get Money for College

Tip of the Month – Guard Against Identity Theft

Last year, 8.1 million people were victims of identity theft in the US which cost Americans nearly $37 billion.  That’s ridiculous.  But there are some simple things you can do to guard yourself against identity theft.  Here are three ways:

1.) Get a Copy of your Free Credit Report – each year you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus
2.) Opt-Out of Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers – lower your junk mail and the risk that identity thieves will get your personal information
3.) Sign up for an Identity Monitoring Service – While it costs money for these services, they can help protect you against identity theft and fraud
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Copyright © 2012 YoBucko, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:eric.bell@yobucko.com
YoBucko
3439 N. Powhatan St.
Arlington, VA, VA 22213

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Welcome to YoBucko!

YoBucko is the online personal finance guide that equips young adults with the knowledge and tools needed for financial success. Our mission is simple: to help you live a wealthier life.


Like YoBucko? Share the Wealth!

Financial Education

YoBucko helps you learn how to manage your money. From articles and videos to step-by-step guides, YoBucko connects you with reliable financial information that matters to you.

START LEARNING

Articles ArticlesPersonal finance articles and news written in plain English. No gimmicks or fine print here. Just simple and honest financial advice.

Videos VideosTired of reading. No problem. Watch videos and online tutorials on basic personal finance topics.

Financial Calculators CalculatorsAt YoBucko, you don’t need a finance degree to make smart financial decisions. Try our free online calculators and avoid the money math.


VIDEOS

YoBucko’s Guide to Budgeting

YoBucko’s Guide to Credit

INFOGRAPHICS

Student Loan Debt Statistics

How Much the Average Wedding Costs

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10 Financial Tips for Young Entrepreneurs

Posted by     yobucko.com

If you are young entrepreneur or startup, I applaud you. Building a company is truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. A year and a half ago, I decided to quit my job to pursue my dreams of entrepreneurship and have learned a lot of lessons along the way. In this article, I’m going to share some of the financial lessons I’ve learned in the process of starting my business in the hopes that you won’t repeat some of the common financial mistakes many young entrepreneurs make.

Young Entrepreneur Regrets Mistakes

#1: Time is Money

When I first started building my business, I spent a lot of time traveling to meetings, meeting with people, planning for meetings, etc. Today, I wish I had all that time back. One of the most valuable assets entrepreneurs have is their time, and every moment you spend doing stuff that is unrelated to your business is time and money wasted. When I was first starting out, I recall one of my advisors saying to me, “a lack of time is a lack of priorities.” It’s true. If you are wasting your time going to meaningless meetings that are unrelated to your business, you can find yourself in a tough financial situation.

#2: Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best

Bad things happen to good people, and it pays to be prepared. If you are not financially prepared to take the leap into entrepreneurship, don’t quit your job until you are ready. There is no reason in the world to give up your income when you can work on your project on the side until you have traction. For most single people, I recommend having at least 3 months of living expenses in an emergency savings account. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, I’d recommend setting aside closer to six or nine months of cash in savings that you can fall back on if you need it. Bad things happen, customers don’t always pay on time and you need to make sure you have money set aside to keep you afloat during the tough times.

#3: Learn How to Manage your Cash Flow

One of my advisors shared a piece of wisdom with me recently when he said, “there are three reasons a company fails: they run out of cash, they run out of cash and they run out of cash.” Where I am was an optimist, he was a realist. But his words were very true. Cash flow is the #1 financial metric you should learn how to control when running a company. If you don’t know where your money comes from or where it is going, you put yourself at risk. Creating a budget and sticking to it is very important in a startup.

#4: Set Clear Goals and Milestones

When you are an early stage entrepreneur, it is easy to waste time over-thinking your concept. In reality, the time spent daydreaming about your idea instead of testing your concept with potential customers is wasted time. To mitigate this risk, set measurable milestones and deadlines early on and track your progress along the way. What is the difference between a goal and a milestone? Milestones are like sign posts along the way to your goal that show you how you are doing over time.

#5: Track your Spending

When you are first starting out in business, there is a lot going on. For many entrepreneurs, keeping track of their spending seems secondary to creating a business plan, talking to customers, etc. But it is very important to create a system to track your spending each month so you don’t have to scramble for information when you need it. There is nothing more frustrating than digging through paperwork looking for financial information at tax time or compiling financial reports for bankers when you don’t have the information readily available. So rather than wasting time on the back-end, do yourself a favor and set yourself up right from day one. I’d highly recommend using an online bookkeeping software like Quickbooks and inputting your own information for the first few months. If you find yourself having trouble finding the time, you can always hire a bookkeeper to help you out. Eventually, your information may get more complicated requiring the services of an accountant around tax time. But there is no need to overspend on professional services when you can very easily track your expenses on your own.

Get 20% off Quickbooks Pro 2012 Software and get 1 Hour free with a Quickbooks Expert!

#6: Understand the Value of Employee Benefits

There are a lot of luxuries I took for granted when I had a comfy job in banking – health insurance, parking reimbursements, 401k matching plans, etc. When you start your own company, many of the employee benefits you come to expect go away. So before you hand in your resignation letter, take some time to figure out how much money you’ll have to spend to replace those benefits. First, compare health insurance plans to see how much it will cost you to replace your current coverage. Next, think about what you are going to do with your 401k or 401k plans, IRAs and retirement savings at YoBucko”>retirement plan. You basically have four options: cash out and pay a penalty, roll it over into a new 401k plan, roll it over into an IRA, or leave it in your current plan. Finally, determine how much money you’ll need to earn each month to replace your benefits and factor that into your compensation.

#7: Focus on Finding your First Customer

If you don’t have customers, you are not a business. So rather than spending all of your time and money trying to determine who your customers are, go to a handful of potential customers and ask them a very simple question, “would you buy this?” If they say “no”, then ask, “why not?” The sooner you do this the better off you will be as a company. This was one of my biggest mistakes early on. I went to people I knew personally, who liked me and asked them “do you like this?” Being friendly and nice folks, they naturally said, “of course we like this, and we like you too.” While this made me feel really good about myself, it didn’t help me build a company. Find people other than your mother and best friend who may be potential customers and ask them for real feedback.

#8: Be Open and Honest with Investors and Lenders

There is nothing that gets people into more trouble in business than dishonesty and a lack of communication – this is especially true for early-stage businesses that are looking to raise money or get a loan. If you act shady and secretive, people won’t trust you. Similarly, if you are unable or unwilling to reveal the numbers that drive your business’ success, you can lose the trust of sources of capital. While my investors right now are friends and family, I’ve made it a regular practice to keep them “in the know” on our company’s financial situation. While it isn’t always a pleasant conversation it helps establish credibility and gives them opportunities to help us navigate the tough times. If you are an entrepreneur and don’t have investors, find some advisors and hold quarterly meetings with them to talk through the numbers. It’s both a good practice and a way to get some additional support and ideas for your company.

#9: Pay Yourself

After a year and a half of eating ramen and Trader Joe’s bean burritos I’ve finally learned an important lesson – you can’t eat equity for dinner. While many early stage companies don’t have enough revenue or cash to pay themselves big salaries, you’ve got to find some way to pay yourself along the way. If you don’t, you are doing yourself and the business a disservice. There is nothing riskier from an investor’s perspective than giving money to someone who “needs it.” People who are in desperate financial situations do irrational things. To avoid this risk, don’t be afraid to pay yourself a salary. Investors understand that you can’t get by on ramen and burritos forever.

#10: Keep your Fixed Expenses Low

In the early stages of starting a business, it is smart to keep your fixed expenses as low as possible. So renting a huge space in Midtown Manhattan on day one may not be the best strategy. As your company’s revenues grow over time, you can start taking on more overhead. But be patient. If you need office space, see if there are any low-priced, month-to-month options available to you. If there is an incubator program in your city, check it out. Also, consider turning your home or apartment into an office space. You’ll be able to write it off on taxes. So before you start signing high-priced two-year contracts with vendors, make sure you have the revenues or cash needed to cover your costs.

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Personal Finance: YoBucko talks money for 20-something

Published: Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012

When it comes to managing money, there’s no lack of advice online, on everything from figuring out a budget to calculating your retirement plan.

But for 20-somethings? Not so much.

And that’s the concept behind YoBucko.com, a new personal finance website aimed squarely at those in their 20s. It’s the brainchild of Eric Bell, a 28-year-old Washington, D.C., entrepreneur who sees a void in personal finance guidance for his generation.

What Bell lacks in years, he’s made up in passion for personal finances. While in college, Bell started money-management workshops at four universities in his native Arkansas. After graduating in 2006 (“one of the last group of graduates to easily get jobs”), he spent four years in the private banking division of Citigroup. Now finishing an MBA program at Georgetown University, he just finished two years as president of the Greater Washington, D.C., Jumpstart Coalition, a national nonprofit that promotes financial literacy in schools.

It all led to November, when he founded YoBucko, which offers advice to 20-somethings on budgets, debt, savings, insurance and more.

This week, he talked by phone about his website and his generation’s attitudes on work, taking risks and the recession’s lasting impact. Here’s an excerpt:

For obvious reasons, I like the YoBucko name. Where’d it come from?

I wanted a name that made people laugh. There’s so much out there on personal finances but not a lot you can laugh about … . Real problems come from personal finances. But people aren’t receptive to the message if they can’t smile about it.

 

Why focus on 20-somethings?

I focus on 20-year-olds and up because I am one. I understand the challenges they’re facing … . When I was in college, I wanted to take classes on money management but nothing was available. … I’m trying to get in front of problems and (help prevent) a lot of what we’ve seen with credit card debt, bad mortgages, etc.

Like many college graduates, you’re saddled with $100,000 in student loans, the legacy of finishing your Georgetown University MBA. Does that make you more – or less – credible with your audience?

From my perspective, it adds to my credibility. I’m in the trenches with people, not speaking to them from my ivory tower. Some of the most successful people in the personal finance field are folks who faced real financial issues and got through them successfully. … So rather than hide behind the facts and pretend to be someone I’m not, I prefer to share my story openly so I can speak from experience, not theory.

Student loan debt is estimated to hit $1 trillion this year and take decades to repay. What’s your advice on student loans? And how are you tackling your own debt?

Tuition and the rising cost of education is the downfall of our generation … . (Students) should think long and hard about why they’re going back to school. If you’re trying to switch careers or add to your current job skills, there can be a payoff. If you’re just going because you don’t know what you want to do, it may not be the best investment.

I’ve already paid off a chunk of my loans, the higher-interest rate loans first. I’m looking at my repayment options: lowering interest rates, consolidating loans, income-based repayment plans.

For your generation, what are the lasting lessons of the recession?

There are three major takeaways:

• Bad things happen to good people. The recession demonstrated this very clearly and instilled a little fear in our generation. Prior to the recession, there was an eternal sense of optimism about our future and our potential. The recession (gave) us a wake-up call and helped us realize that we need to protect ourselves by saving for a rainy day, living below our means and hedging our bets.

• Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. People now see how being too concentrated in one asset – whether it’s real estate, stocks, cash or 401(k) plans – is a risky proposition. The concept of diversification makes more sense to our generation now than it did before.

• Be skeptical. While there are a lot of great people in the financial services industry, a few bad apples caused a ton of financial problems globally … . For our generation, it translates into being skeptical of individuals and companies that sell financial products and services.

Part of the “wake-up call” is setting aside some savings. How do people do that?

People talk a good game about saving. But it’s like you know you’re not supposed to eat sausage, biscuits and gravy, but you do until you have a heart attack. … As a country, we’ve lived through a small heart attack and are finally listening to the fact that we should be prepared if it happens again. … Look at your 401(k). Set up direct deposit. Create a budget so you have a snapshot of your money and where it goes each month. (For detailed tips, see accompanying box, “12 Ways to Save More Money in 2012.”)

According to a recent Pew Research Center study of 18-to-34-year-olds, the ragged economy forced many to move back in with parents (24 percent) and postpone marriage (20 percent) or kids (22 percent). Nearly half said they took a job they didn’t like just to pay the bills. How else did the recession change your generation?

It’s forced us to curb our expectations. That dream home at age 35 isn’t likely. … In 2006, when I got out of college, I’d go hang out with friends and buy drinks and an expensive dinner. Now, I’ll cook at home. And that’s not a bad thing … . With careers, you have to have a backup plan. Our sense of loyalty (to a company) is gone because many of us got laid off. We’ve seen people lose their homes. Parents are having to admit to their kids their house is being foreclosed on and they can’t pay for college. Or they don’t have the money for retirement. It’s a scary time. We came into the world where everything was provided to us. Many more of us are now cynics.

Why start a business in tough times?

It was a calculated risk. I’ve probably learned 10 times more from this experience than what I’ve learned from my MBA. … I’m not married; I don’t have kids. I can afford the risk. … If it doesn’t work out, it won’t be because I didn’t try. I believe in what I’m doing. We’ve already helped some people. If I can help a lot more people, it’s even better.
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/02/19/4272661/personal-finance-yobucko-talks.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy

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Re-Inventing Education for the 21st Century

The Internet is staring down the College Cartel. And the Internet will win. College costs cannot continue to rise at three times the rate of inflation, as they have for the last thirty-five years.

My friend Jack Biddle, co-founder of VC firm Novak Biddle, and an early pioneer in online education companies (Blackboard, 2Tor, Fidelis and others) puts it this way:

“Since WW II, GDP has grown at 3% per year but health care and education have and continue to grow at 7%. They are now on a path to reach 50% of GDP. For that to continue, it means that EVERYTHING else that people consume has to shrink by 4% per year. That is simply not going to happen. Herb Stein’s law says that that which is unsustainable, shall stop, and this is unsustainable.”

The Internet has brought efficiency and cost-reduction to so many industries over the last fifteen years: retailing, financial services, advertising, music, news, movies, books, and gaming. The $1 Trillion Education market is next.

Education hasn’t changed much since the days of Plato and the first Academy which he founded in 387 BC in Athens – where the wise teacher filled the brains of his students with his wisdom and knowledge. With 16 million students at 2,400 US Colleges today, that same “wise teacher” paradigm is used in hundreds of thousands of college classrooms and lecture halls each and every day.

Yet the world has changed. Today, across the Internet, more knowledge exists online about any given topic than does in the mind of any one professor at any one school. With access to the Internet, students collectively are wiser than their professors. Companies like Koofers, which helps students prepare for tests in virtual study halls, whether on the same campus taking the same course, or at completely different schools but taking the same course type (Introduction to Economics) are harnessing this collective wisdom.

Salman Khan, who started posting YouTube videos for his family, to help them better understand math being taught in school, is turning education upside down. The Khan Academy suggests that learning should be done online, and classroom time reserved for teachers to help students better understand material they have learned, but perhaps not yet mastered.

2Tor is helping brand-name universities extend their programs online, to reach students around the world. Those online students graduate with the same degrees as their counterparts who attend brick and mortar classes.

The revolution is upon us.

I see four rich veins for entrepreneurs to mine in the higher education space. A lot of wealth will be created here in the next twenty years.

First and foremost is international. The rise of the middle class in India and China alone is creating a college-eligible audience larger than the 16 million college students in the US today. Validating the credentials of these students, helping to match them with US Colleges, preparing them for college from a language or culture standpoint, and educating many of them online represents an industry perhaps as large as the entire US education market today. A new $1 Trillion market.

Second is brand extension by the top US Universities. For most, admission into college is not hard. Only 2% of US Universities are ultra-selective, accepting fewer than 25% of their applicants. These 53 out of 2,041 Universities have brands that are recognized worldwide. It might be more difficult to expand branded undergraduate offerings online, because of the breadth of the curriculum and the socialization needs of the students at that age. But brand expansion, online, for graduate programs can be a very big business. 2Tor is attacking this space dead on.

Third is what I call an “On-Campus Virtual College.” I believe that students go to college for three primary reasons. First is the social experience of college. Making friends for life, having fun, going to parties, and learning how to live and act independently from your parents. Second is to get an education and a degree that is valuable to employers in their field of choice. Third is to find a job upon graduation. Academics only comes to play in the second instance. The other two are much more pragmatic. And nothing says that the three functions can’t be split.

I foresee a day where students will go off to a campus with classrooms, teaching assistants, dorms, sports teams and cafeterias – but with no professors. Students will go to class together and watch a lecture from the best teaching professors in the world. Teaching assistants or adjunct professors will guide the students through the material. But they will learn, online, from the best teachers, unlike today, where at many schools, professors teach because they have to – and conduct research because they want to. By separating the cost of the social experience + the career planning and placement from the cost of teaching, we can fundamentally change the cost of education. This is an ideal setting for the 84% of students who attend schools that accept 50% or more of their applicants.

Fourth is transfer students. A little known secret is that 1 in 3 students transfer at some point during their college life. They graduate from a different college than they enrolled in right out of high school. This process is inefficient today and will benefit from innovations entrepreneurs will pursue. Innovations I foresee include taking the top 10% of community college students, honors candidates, putting them in an online program from a 4-year school, and preparing them to transfer to one of many 4-year schools after learning online for two years. Another idea: Creating a transfer marketplace for college students looking to upgrade the brand name on their diploma. After all, employers care about the school from which you graduated – not the one you initially went to out of high school. Top colleges would love more applicants, with a year or two of college under their belts, with a record of academic achievement from second tier schools. Helping to make that market is a big opportunity.

At New Atlantic Ventures, we are big believers in how the Internet will transform higher education. We have backed two companies in this space so far (Koofers and Wiggio,) are about to close an investment in a third company, and are looking for more!

Follow me on Twitter @jcbackus

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