Owning a small business is no small feat. There are hundreds of articles written on how to effectively market yourself, attract customers, and drive traffic to your website. With so many gimmicks and tricks out there, it can feel impossible to determine what you should actually do in order to be successful.
The best piece of advice I have found that works for all successful small businesses is: Just be you.
Be authentic. Be genuine. Be true to who you are and work to ensure your business embodies and reflects this. Authenticity is the thing that can make or break your business. Read more.
We’ve all heard the tales of financial woe that befall people who fail to pay their debt, die without a will, or go through a nasty divorce. But what is the truth? Is there a such thing as credit jail? Can filing bankruptcy give you a clean financial slate? Are you responsible for an ex-spouse’s debts?
I am answering some of your most pressing debt questions. As always, it’s important that you do your own research — each situation is different and laws and regulations change on a case-by-case basis. This is your jumping off point. Now, let’s get started. Read more.
Spring is in the air. Most people use the first blooms of the season as a signal to begin the process of spring cleaning; out with the old to make room for the new.
The same thought process should be applied to your finances. While you are in the mindset of minimizing, organizing, and cleaning out the old, you should capitalize on this mood as it pertains to your debt. Take the time to give yourself a money makeover and tidy up your financial life by shedding lingering debt. Here are the steps you can take to do it. Read more.
Featured images by Images Money
Grandchildren are a blessing and were put on this earth to be spoiled rotten by “Gran” and “Pop Pop.” Unfortunately, a growing number of grandparents find themselves moving from the role of grandma/pa to starring in their very own sequel—Parenting Part II. And while grandkids are a gift from God, they are a very expensive gift that can wreak havoc on a grandparent’s pocketbook.
The trend of grandparents serving as the primary caretaker of grandchildren has not only become common but it’s also becoming the new norm. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau, found that one in three households is headed by a grandparent. And recent upticks in increased life expectancy, single-parent homes, and female professionals, increase the likelihood that grandparent head of household trend will continue to rise.
Parenting from the posture of a grandparent is a lot different than it was the first time around. An informal survey conducted by RasingYourGrandchildren.com found that 64 percent of respondents cited money as their primary challenge when it comes to raising their grands. Maintaining financial stability with the grands in tow can involve a bit more than the standard living on a budget and having an emergency fund strategy. Below are few tips on making ends meet while rearing the grandkids.
The first thing you must do when you become a grandparent head-of-household is understand that you are not who you once were and the world has changed. This is especially true if your grands are small children. You are older now and you have less “bandwidth” than you used to have. You have a little less energy, patience, tolerance, strength and drive than you did the first go around. You have to remember that and plan your life accordingly.
This realization also applies to your financial bandwidth. You have less room for mistakes and missteps. Recovering from a financial disaster will be a lot costlier now that you are older and have a shortened earning time-span and a limited income. You have to learn to do more with less. You may have to shift your perspective and opt for things like paying for community or local college in lieu of a large and expensive university. Vacations may have to become staycations and eating out becomes a once a month treat at a cheap fast food restaurant instead of the usual twice a week meal at a pricey restaurant.
The main point here is that you can’t do the normal things you used to do when you were in your first phase of parenting. You have to be smarter, stricter with your budget and way more resourceful.
As a grandparent, you should be aware that there are financial assistance programs available that can help if you find yourself having trouble making ends meet. Most states have a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program. Assistance offerings vary from state to state but most offer bill pay assistance, food stamps and free or low-cost daycare.
If you find that you don’t qualify for your state’s TANF program you should ask about a “child-only grant” which provides financial aid just for the grandchildren. It’s also a good idea to see what other state-sponsored programs are available such as guardianship subsidies, non-parent grants or kinship care.
There are also tax benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), state-sponsored health insurance programs like Medicaid and other low or no cost assistance programs. If these avenues fail, check with the local churches and other community organizations in your area. Many have programs that offer aid to families in need. There are resources out there—you have to seek them out and use them when you need them.
When you are in your 20’s and 30’s you work hard and learn along the way. Once you reach 50, its time to rethink how you do things. The older you get the smarter you should become. It’s time to put that knowledge, expertise and wisdom to work for you. You’ve raised your kids. And you’ve undoubtedly made some mistakes. Look at raising your grandkids as a second chance an opportunity to put that earned knowledge to good use.
Think back on all the times you’ve said “man, if I only knew…,” and do now what you didn’t know to do then. You may have less physical energy but you have greater mental strength. Work to look at everything strategically. How long can you stretch a pack of chicken? Learn the art of thrifting. Teach the grands how to DIY whenever possible and look for deals—for everything.
You really have to work to make every dollar count. You may not be able to spoil the grands the way you envisioned but you are providing them with something far more valuable and substantive. You give them a warm, clean, and safe place to live, nourishment, clothes and most importantly, your love. You also will teach them how to live frugally, how to stretch what they have and how to live on a budget. You have the unique opportunity to directly shape and affect their lives. That’s far more valuable than anything you could ever buy them.
Living on a budget is a basic and fundamental must. But that doesn’t just apply to your finances. In addition to budgeting every dollar, you must budget your time, food and all of your resources. Everything you do (or don’t do) eventually affects your bottom line. For instance, if you fail to plan your meals before you go to the grocery store, you may find yourself going to the grocery store more often. And research shows the more often you go, the more vulnerable you become to overspending.
The same is true about your time. If you don’t plan how to spend your time and create a schedule, your sweet, darling, little grands will run you ragged. And exhaustion effects decision-making. The more tired you are the more apt you are to take shortcuts and use money to solve problems when more frugal options are available.
It’s also important to have money goals. Try to structure your finances in a way that allows you not to dip into your retirement funds. Continue to have a savings strategy and always, always, always maintain an emergency fund. If you know that you are going to be the primary caregiver for the long haul, make a realistic plan for their education. And that includes encouraging them to opt for non-conventional college payment options, like work study, attending a free/ low-cost community college or going to school part-time.
The fact that you are raising your grandkids qualifies you for a “good person” award. You are doing a noble and honorable thing. You are doing the right thing. Whenever guilt arises because you can’t give your grands the best of everything, remind yourself that you are doing your best.
You’ve raised your kids and were the best parent you could be at the time. Own that. You don’t have to raise your grandchildren. You are choosing to. Allowing guilt to drive your financial decisions is a bad idea and a quick way to buy yourself a heap of financial trouble. Work to always do the right thing. That means saying no when you should and yes only when you can.
Featured image by Matti on Flickr
A little self-criticism is a good thing. It can be a reality check and provide a moment of clarity that challenges you to do better. However, if left unchecked, your self-talk can veer off the road of constructive criticism and end up in the ditch of self-loathing.
There is a distinct difference between “I’ve put on a few pounds. I need to get back in the gym,” and “I’m a fat pig that no one wants.” See the difference? One motivates the other deprecates.
Like it or not, everything you say to yourself matters. Your inner critic isn’t harmless. It inhibits you, limits you, and stops you from pursuing your dreams and living your best life. It robs you of peace of mind and emotional well-being and, if left unchecked it can even lead to serious mental health problems.
Most people don’t realize it, but as we go about our daily lives we are subconsciously interpreting every situation that arises–both big and small. We have an internal voice inside our mind that shapes our context surrounding what we are experiencing.
Some of our internal conversations can be negative, unrealistic, self-defeating and self-deprecating. We say things like, ‘I’m going to fail for sure’, or ‘I didn’t do well.’ I’m hopeless.’ ‘I’m useless.’
The consequences of negative self-talk build over time. It’s like building a brick wall. Each time you engage in negative self-talk, you add a brick to the wall. Each brick by itself is fairly insignificant. But over time an impenetrable wall is constructed. Repeatedly berating yourself and believing the worse slowly sabotages you.
Thinking of yourself as clumsy, a loser, ugly, stupid, insignificant or worthless is an indicator that your self-talk is negative and you may be slowly orchestrating our own demise. Internal negativity makes you see yourself as irreparably flawed, inadequate or incompetent and as a result, your self-confidence is diminished.
Seeing yourself as hopeless, constantly blaming yourself whenever something goes wrong or dwelling on worst-case scenarios are all examples of exaggerated, negative thought patterns. And this kind of distorted thinking can cause you to spiral downward until you’re so far down you are unable to see or imagine anything positive.
Negative self-talk reinforces irrational ideas you already have. Each time you mentally rehearse negative phrases you strengthen those irrational beliefs and perceptions. And with time, your negativity gathers the strength to cripple–and in some cases– even kill you.
Happily, your pesky inner critic can be muzzled.
For example, when thoughts such as “I am worthless” arise, counter them with more realistic thoughts such as “my kids need me” or “my colleague values my work.” Each time you counter negative statements with positive facts, your negative thoughts lose power.
Try to view the situation objectively, like an outsider looking in and then try to determine what is best for that person (you) in that situation.
Repeating this cycle over and over trains your mind to seek out and focus on the positive. And slowly positive thoughts will become your default.
Excessive amounts of self-criticism is counterproductive because it leads to hyper-focusing on failures and flaws and excludes the positives. You have power over how you perceive life and how you interact with it. The first step in being fulfilled and achieving your goals begins by training that small voice in your head to speak positivity.
The ability to bounce back after being financially sucker punched is a necessity in today’s volatile financial climate. It’s safe to say that at some point in your life, you are going to face a financial crisis. It could come in the form of a job loss, an unexpected pregnancy, a health crisis, divorce, death of a loved one, identity theft, a global recession, the stock market tanking, an act of God … you get the picture. And the most troublesome thing about a financial crisis is it is usually unexpected and beyond your control.
The ability to survive and recover from a significant financial setback depends on how well you are prepared before disaster strikes and how flexible and proactive you are during and after the event. While you can’t predict, control, or prevent financial catastrophes, there are a few things you can do to increase your financial resilience. Read more.
Podcasts, similar to wide leg pants and Mohawks, are experiencing a huge comeback. Popularized by the iPod in the early 2000s, these short-form audio files experienced huge (albeit short-lived) success. Originally, the files were too large and painful to download and a lot of the topics were a bit abstract and obscure for the average taste, so the podcast slowly died — until now.
The Podcast is back and better than ever! Apple reported that podcast subscriptions via iTunes eclipsed the one billion mark. Technology has changed the face of this audio file. Downloading is no longer necessary, they can be listened to anywhere, and within their niches the topics are mainstream. Best of all, they are free!
Gone are the days when we had to learn things the hard way. Experience may be the best teacher but having access to critical information can save time, money, and a ton of aspirin. Being an entrepreneur is tough. It can be lonely and a ton of work if you are doing it right. Having access to solid information at the right time could mean the difference between your startup exploding into a huge success or slowly fizzling out and joining the ranks of the 90 percent that fail.
An easy, efficient, and portable way to get great information concerning all things entrepreneurial is by listening to podcasts. We’ve assembled a list of 30 podcasts that should be on the playlist of every entrepreneur:
This podcast is a must for every small business owner. The Dave Ramsey Show is a no-nonsense, savvy, innovative approach to all things financial. Dave gives advice, tips, and resources to help manage your personal and business finances well. His unique approach to business and finance has made his business a huge success and his perspective is well respected in the financial sphere. His podcasts come from his live radio show which is also available in video. During each show he tackles a topic and answers questions live on the air.
This podcast gives advice to young entrepreneurs who are newbies to the startup game. This one tackles topics that are critical to a new business such as naming your business, building your brand, how to value it, and how to bring in partners and investors.
Mixergy is hosted by Andrew Warner and features his interviews with some of the most cutting-edge, relevant business people of today. What is especially unique about his interactions with his guests is that some of the more engaging topics morph into business courses taught by the interviewed business experts. Not only do you get to hear some advice and personal stories, you are also given the opportunity to learn from the masters themselves.
If you are looking for a bit of inspiration and the motivation to keep going, this is the podcast for you. Hosted by former professional arena football player Lewis Howes, this podcast focuses on helping you be the best version of yourself. It wakes you up and challenges you to live intentionally.
This award-winning podcast airs seven days a week and features incredible stories, advice, and a fresh perspective on creative ways to run your business by industry heavy hitters. Host John Lee Dumas ensures that you have an actionable take away from every show.
Just the name alone should have you fired up and ready to listen. The website bills Powderkeg as “The untold stories of entrepreneurship beyond Silicon Valley.” These are stories of successful startups in the tech industry. The host, Matt Hunckler, delves into some of the top minds of this market including investors and innovators. It is tech focused but there are principles discussed that can be applied to any business endeavor.
This is another Dave Ramsey project. This one delves into the dynamics of creating, owning, and operating a business empire, in addition to building your brand and learning how to operate with integrity. He uses his own experience and offers tips from the likes of Mark Cuban, Simon Sinek, Set Godin, and other heavy hitters.
This podcast is a must for creative types. It offers lessons on the mechanics of running a business while leveraging the tactical and strategic components necessary for success in the highly competitive creative marketspace.
HBR IDEACAST is the Harvard Business Review’s podcast. HBR is the premier resource for business news and research. According to their website, their podcast provides analysis and advice from leading minds in all things business. While HBR does require a membership fee to access some of its articles and information, the podcast is free.
The $100 MBA is a daily podcast that is quick and to the point. This 10-minute podcast is hosted by Omar Zenhom and gives practical, real-world actionable advice by a leading industry expert. This is great for those who don’t have a lot of time or want just the information without a lot of chitchat.
If you are looking for a bit of inspiration and are interested in the stories of how others climbed to success, The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show is for you. This show is all about self-made millionaires and prosperous entrepreneurs who started with nothing. The show’s topics cover the entire spectrum of business, ranging from harnessing ingenuity to how to create an emotional experience for your customers.
BBC Business Daily is a podcast that focuses on global business news. It examines big issues facing the global economy, demystifies the world of money and international business, and explains trends. It gives a broad perspective of business and is great for those with international business interests.
The Wall Street Journal on Small Biz is a weekly podcast that primarily focuses on all things small business. This podcast provides a wide array of topics that keep you engaged and intrigued. The topics which range from lying on a resume to how sports logic applies to business are captivating and provide a unique perspective on business issues.
“Forge your Destiny” is this website’s tagline. This podcast is not necessarily entrepreneurial. It’s more geared toward teaching you how to be your best self. It is motivational with a plethora of self-help content.
This quick 20-minute show hosted by Ashley Milne-Tyte tackles some of the big issues facing women in the workplace. The discussion explores topics such as race, communication styles, being a professional woman with or without kids, and how to survive sexism in the business world.
Named one of the best podcasts of 2016 by Apple, this inspiring podcast offers life lessons on work ethic, leadership, discipline, and even fitness. The show is hosted by retired Navy Seal officer, Jocko Willink and his ability to turn any story into a teachable moment makes this podcast worth your time.
The Action Catalyst podcast is all about productivity and building momentum. The host, Rory Vaden, is a New York Times bestselling author and Co-Founder of Southwestern Consulting, a multi-million dollar global consulting practice. He gives real answers to tough questions such as “What’s the fastest, cheapest way to recruit amazing people?” (Visit his website for the answer!)
This podcast, hosted by John Jantsch is a monthly or bi-monthly broadcast. John covers primarily marketing and sales topics. He answers questions and touches on subjects like Chatbots, interpreting body language, keeping pace with changing SEO tactics, and so much more. If you are looking for ways to enhance your marketing strategy this podcast is definitely for you.
This relatively new podcast airs weekly and features interviews and talks with startup founders, influencers, and entrepreneurs. 500 Startups is a Silicon Valley seed fund and accelerator and focuses on how to get your startup off the ground and keep it growing at a manageable pace during its infancy.
The Tim Ferriss Show is the top-ranked business podcast with over 100,000,000 iTunes downloads. Tim is a New York Times bestselling author and investor extraordinaire. What makes his podcast so popular and engaging is that he interviews successful people in a multiplicity of genres, fields, and art forms. He translates their strategies into business practices and finds ways to incorporate seemingly unrelated topics and fields into successful business practices.
Youpreneur, hosted by Chris Ducker, is dedicated to helping you create, enhance, and revamp your brand. He tackles everything from digital storytelling to using Instagram as a marketing and branding tool. He offers a fresh look at branding and leveraging all the available tools to effectively communicate your brand.
This podcast is for those who want to know what the exciting new trends are in the world of technology. Each week, host Jason Calacanis interviews a guest entrepreneur to find out what’s happening right now in the tech industry. This podcast is cutting-edge and is a mix of current events and trends, company profiles, and insider gossip. This is the podcast for those techies who need to be in the know.
This podcast is “Investing 101”. It is designed to teach entrepreneurs how investors think, how to market to them, and how to entice them to buy into your company, your brand, and more importantly, you. Host Nick Moran ensures that you walk away with clear and actionable information on how to be a savvy investor and how to attract investors.
Andy Stanley’s podcasts focus on leadership and how to cultivate your vision and develop others around you. His content is culturally relevant and provides practical insights for life and leadership. Last month’s podcast was a conversation on how to create a culture of continual improvement. He knows that any business is only as strong as its leader and he shows how to lead with passion while avoiding burnout.
According to Andreessen Horowitz (a.k.a. a16z), “Software is eating the world.” Horowitz wants to teach tech companies how to leverage technology without becoming slaves to it. He interviews and engages tech experts and business leaders through spirited discussions concerning this this “devourment” and helps tech companies devise a plan. His chats focus on tech news, industry trends, and the future of technology. If you want to keep pace with trends and survive the future, this podcast is for you.
This short and sweet weekly podcast hosted by Harry Stebbings is geared toward venture capitalists. Each week two experts in the world of venture capitalism share their wisdom, insight, and predictions in a concise and informative interview. This podcast is suited for investors but it is also a wellspring of knowledge for business-minded individuals, novice investors, and entrepreneurs.
This is a podcast every entrepreneur (or anyone looking to market anything) should hear. Jay Baer of Convince & Convert and Adam Brown of Salesforce are the tag-team co-hosts of this podcast. This show is an insightful and intelligent look into the essential world of social media marketing. They get advice from experts associated with global icons such as Dell, ESPN, and IBM concerning the trends and how-tos of social media marketing.
The #AskGaryVee podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, CEO, investor, vlogger/social media personality, and public speaker Gary Vaynerchuk. Each show is a Q&A with Gary in which he answers questions concerning everything he’s into. He gives tips, tricks, and secrets of the trade. This show has something for every entrepreneur. Whether you are starting a YouTube channel or a high-level tech startup, Gary can teach you something.
Earning a passive income is the new financial trend currently sweeping the globe. It is also every entrepreneur’s dream. Making money while you sleep — who wouldn’t want that? Pat Flynn is an expert in this area. He has built his online empire almost entirely through the use of passive income. He shows you how to target your energy and efforts now so that you can relax and reap the rewards long after you’ve quit working.
This podcast is for those who — like host and creator Brian Clark — find it impossible to stick to the mundane, mediocre lifestyle that traditional nine-to-five offers. This podcast encourages those who have a phenomenal work ethic but were built to march to the beat of their own drums and are destined to forge their own paths in this world. Brian teaches you how to follow your passion in a very intentional and methodical way. This podcast is not for the lazy, the trifling, or those who give up easily.
Featured image courtesy of maxpixel
The number of Americans who wait to get married — or never get hitched — is growing. In fact, for the first time in history, the number of unmarried Americans almost equals those who are married. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that there were 110 million unmarried adults (age 18 and older) in 2016, which is 45 percent of all U.S. residents over the age of 18.
Living a Sex in the City lifestyle may be alluring, but it also comes with hidden financial pitfalls. This is especially true for singles who have never been married. While divorcees and widows have distinct challenges, there are resources and services out there to assist them through their transition. However, if you are someone who has never been married, you’re pretty much on your own.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the top things that every single person should do with their finances. Read more.
Owning a small business is a labor of love. In addition to investing your money, resources, blood, sweat and tears, you also invest a small part of your soul. You love it. It’s your baby — you’ve nurtured it from nothing to the success it is now. But every now and then, a thought flashes through your mind: Should I sell?
Or, maybe someone else has seen, appreciates, and is willing to pay for what you’ve done. They offer to buy you out. Should you accept?
Selling your business is a tricky endeavor. It’s tough to know when you should take the money and run. Here are a few telltale signs that it’s time to cash in your chips and call it quits. Read more.
A young mother named Essence Evans recently posted on Facebook that she charges her five-year-old daughter $1 each for rent, utilities, food, water, and cable out of her weekly $7 allowance. The remaining $2 is the child’s money to spend however she wishes. The $5 that Evans takes for “bills” actually goes into a savings account she’ll give to her daughter when she turns 18.
The internet went berserk. Some people loved this idea, while others thought it took things too far. Whether you agree or disagree with the method, something has to be said for the initiative Evans is taking to teach her young daughter money management and the value of a dollar.
Should you follow her example and charge your little ones “rent?” Here are five important lessons you’d be teaching them by having them “pay bills.” Read more.
Featured image by Steven Depolo
Shortly after meeting my (now) husband and we began dating, he was called away to participate in a week-long training exercise at Camp Lejeune. He was in the Navy at the time and the training was a part of his job. Before he left, he stopped by my apartment to say his goodbyes. He said the usual–I’m going to miss you and I’ll see you as soon as I get back–or something to that effect.
And then, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the keys to his car and his bank card. He gave me the pin number to his account and told me to spend whatever I needed for gas and any other shopping I wanted to do. I was stunned. I weakly tried to protest but he just kissed me on the forehead, said goodbye and strolled out the door.
When he returned from training, he didn’t even go home. He had his friend drop him off at my place as we were so eager to see each other. When I greeted him at the door he scooped me up in his arms and held me in a long embrace. We made dinner plans and I gave him back the keys to his car and his bank card…
Years later, while reminiscing about how we first met, I asked my husband when he knew for sure that he was in love with me. He said when he returned home from his trip to Camp Lejeune and saw his car and checked his account. “When I saw that you had completely detailed my car and had added money to my account–I knew you were the one. You returned everything to me in better shape than I left it.”
We were married one month after that trip.
We had known each other for three months.
When moving forward in your marriage you will face challenges and obstacles. It is inevitable. There are so many prevailing theories, teachings and schools of thought on how to make a marriage work. The reality is there is no one single recipe leading to marital bliss. You have to take a few very basic and fundamental principles and tailor them to meet the needs of you and your spouse.
“If both of you are putting each other first then no one comes second.”
This quote goes against every selfish instinct that we as human beings have. Ego-centrism comes naturally. We all tend to focus on ourselves and our own selfish needs. However, the very essence of marriage and relationships center around the fact that it is no longer about you as an individual but about the marital unit. The goal in marriage and relationships should be to move from being selfish to selfless.
It’s incredibly difficult to put someone’s wants, needs, hopes, dreams and happiness ahead of your own.
Granted, this is easier to do when we’re blinded by passion — as tends to happen during the “honeymoon period.” But doing it on an everyday basis isn’t easy. And that’s what love should be. It should be making the love of your life a top priority — day in and day out.
When two people in a relationship care more for each other than they do for themselves–they are on their way to finding true happiness. True happiness–I mean the deep down feeling of contentment, solitude and peace–comes from making others happy.
Let’s be clear… Putting your spouse first, in no way means totally neglecting yourself and becoming a blind puppet. Sometimes to ensure the ultimate happiness of your spouse gentle push back on bad ideas may be required. Especially on things that may cause them harm and more headaches in the end. You may have to encourage them to have better eating and exercise habits and walk alongside them through the process. It is loving them enough to always do what is best for them–and sometimes that causes conflict.
One of the most significant rules my husband and I live by is to always treat each other better than we treat others. What this means is the same courtesy, kindness and tolerance we extend to friends, family, associates and strangers, we extend to each other on a much higher level. When you are angry with your spouse, before you speak, ask yourself “would I say that to my mother, best friend or boss?” If it’s not appropriate to say it to anyone else it is definitely off limits for your spouse.
Find small ways to make your spouse feel cherished and special. Go out of your way for them every chance you get. Make them your number one priority–always. Marriage takes sacrifice and putting your spouse first is how to make a marriage work.
In order to get and stay out of debt, you have to shake things up. You need to change your thought patterns, financial habits, routines, and in some cases, your circle of friends. It requires intentional effort, diligence, and sacrifice. If you seriously want to get out of debt, here are eight sacrifices that will expedite the journey. Read more.
Featured image by Chris Potter
Most relationship experts will tell you that after love, communication and attraction (a.k.a. chemistry) are the keys to establishing a healthy and long-lasting relationship. But are they really? Granted these two elements are vital components of any relationship and definitely speak to surviving the highs, lows and constant change all relationships must endure. However, there is one underlying element that fuels and facilitates effective communication and trumps chemistry and that is respect.
To understand how and why respect is so pivotal to a relationship we must first understand what respect is and what it looks like. Respect is the fundamental understanding that your partner is not you. He or she is not an extension of you, not a reflection of you, not your toy, not your pet, nor your project. Your task is not to control the other person or try to craft him or her into your version of the ideal mate.
In a relationship, your task is to understand and accept the other person as a unique individual. Respect allows you to see the other person as an equal and valuable team member. You learn to work in tandem with that person to meet the needs of the team and accomplish the team’s goals.
Any successful relationship must be rooted in love. However, love is not enough. Love brings bliss in the early stages of relationships, but it only grows and blossoms if it is tempered with respect. Respect dictates and shapes behaviors, frames communication and contextualizes how we view and interact with our mate.
Imagine standing at the altar on your wedding day. Staring deep into your beloved’s eyes, suddenly, you are struck by the thought that this one “priceless” moment is costing you over $30,000. And that doesn’t include the five-day, four-night honeymoon in Cancun. What have you done?
According to The Knot, the national average for the cost of a wedding in 2016 was a whopping $35,329. And since most couples don’t have that kind of cash upfront, many turn to loans to finance all or some portion of it.
Technically speaking, there’s no such thing as a “wedding loan.” A wedding loan is just an unsecured personal loan where the interest rate is based on the creditworthiness of one or both potential spouses. But kicking your marriage off with debt is a recipe for unnecessary stress and hardship. It can set you back financially before you even gain any momentum in what should be a new, exciting chapter of life.
If you are contemplating using a wedding loan to help you pay for your big day, here are three key things you should consider… Read more.
Life is a journey filled with conundrums. An unwritten rule of thumb is that in order to gain something, you have to give up something. And the place this truism is experienced the most is in the area of finances.
One of the biggest dilemmas people face at some point in life is should you sacrifice quality of life and personal happiness for money? And if so, for how long?
Working a job you hate to gain financial independence is a sacrifice worth considering. However, before you sell your soul and doom yourself to a life of misery for the almighty dollar, here are a few reasons that choosing a paycheck over passion may not be worth it. Read more.
There are no two ways about it; having kids is expensive. The USDA estimates the cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 to be an astounding $233,610. This figure includes food, housing, transportation, healthcare, clothing, child care and education, and miscellaneous costs. And anyone with children knows that they remain an expense far past the age of 17.
Understanding that having children is a lifetime commitment both emotionally and financially is a great first step in the process of deciding when to start a family. But what comes next? How do you know that you are financially ready to handle the responsibility of starting a family?
There is no definitive answer to this question because there is no magic income or savings number that can dictate when you are ready for a family. However, there are some benchmarks and indicators that can assist you in making this life-altering decision. Here are seven signs that you are financially ready for kids. Read more.
The saying, “Don’t quit your day job,” has become all but obsolete. We live in an era of entrepreneurship. Being your own boss is the chic new trend. But while throwing caution to the wind and only having a Plan A is tempting, keeping your day job while turning a side-gig into a business is a great way to mitigate risk, learn your market niche, and test ideas and business models.
However, building a business and a brand while working a nine-to-five is tough. Here are a few tips to help you ease your way into doing both. Read more.
Let’s play a game. It’s called How to Get Noticed.
Pretend you are at a crowded party or social gathering and you see a cute guy/girl that you want to talk to–how would you go about getting his/her attention? Do you:
A. Make a loud noise such as clearing your throat, coughing or sneezing?
B. Walk straight up to your crush, interrupt the conversation and introduce yourself?
C. Linger in the background listening to the conversation and then at the perfect moment interject a witty comment or expound on a point made in the conversation showing how intellectual you are?
D. None of the above. You freak out and hide in the corner all night.
For most people, the method depends on personality and level of intro/extroversion. However, the truth is that all of the approaches listed above won’t net you a smooth interaction and can actually hijack your attempt at connecting with an unknown person.
that there is a systematic method for approaching and engaging new people.
Dr. Jack Schafer, author of The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over, believes the key to being noticed and befriended rest in reading and responding to cues.
The foundation of the Schafer’s theory is what he calls “the friendship formula,” which involves:
He begins by explaining the value of nonverbal friendship cues, which he calls the “big three”:
Next, he tackles body language and what it reveals about a person’s intentions, regardless of what he or she might be saying aloud. He also advocates “speaking the language of friendship,” which involves keeping one’s ego in check, and what he calls the LOVE Method, which includes:
Schafer’s approach to observing human nature is practical and useful in a variety of situations, from romantic meetings to interviewing or working the room at social gatherings.
When you think about meeting someone new what initial thoughts enter your mind? Are you thinking about what you should say? Are you worried about your breath, your clammy hands or trying not to saying something stupid?
While these are natural fears, focusing on you is the wrong perspective and makes new interactions even more awkward than they have to be. Dr. Schafer believes you should shift your focus from you to your object of interest. You should focus on reading and interpreting body language and subtle signals. Remember the key to attracting the right attention is your ability to effectively read and respond to cues.
If you walk up to a stranger and try to engage them immediately, you tend to appear aggressive and you break two of the unspoken “friendship rules”–proximity and intensity. You can take on an air of hostility as you unwittingly invade their territory. Walking up and bombarding a stranger with conversation can make you seem aggressive and the interaction becomes too intense too quickly. It can make others feel uncomfortable and can lead them to form the wrong impression of you. And when that happens, they will actively avoid you.
The first and most important step in making friends is to read signals. Some people are unapproachable. You can tell by paying attention to their body language. Look for things like lack of eye contact, folded arms and what Dr. Schafer calls, the “urban scowl.” His friendship model encourages you to look for nonverbal friend cues, including the aforementioned “big three”: the eyebrow flash, the head tilt, and a genuine smile.
When you are thinking about approaching a stranger, the first thing you should do is attempt to establish eye contact from a distance. This allows you to catch the person’s attention and simultaneously assess the situation.
To send a friend signal, establish eye contact by catching and holding his/her gaze for a quick a second (staring can be perceived as aggressive, threatening or just downright creepy). When the person catches you looking, see if they look uncomfortable. If so, drop your eyes and abort the mission.
If they don’t appear put off by your glance, continue engaging in quick glances to ensure that they know that you are intentionally looking at them and that the eye contact wasn’t inadvertent.
Once you have the individual’s attention and you’ve clearly expressed interest with your eyes, check to see if he/she is sneaking glances at you. If so, and you are fairly certain that the person is interested, it’s time to turn up the heat a little.
Dr. Schafer suggests that you then avoid initiating eye contact for a few minutes and wait for them to initiate. When the person does, he suggests that you don’t return their gaze. He believes that this will create a bit of tension and intrigue. It makes the person wonder why you aren’t engaging with them anymore. If done correctly, this subtle teasing heightens intrigue and interest.
Once you’re certain that your interest is reciprocated it’s time to raise the stakes again.
Look him/her directly in the eyes and flash a little smile. If your smile is returned and his/her body language appears open–then you’re in and are free to approach. You want to walk over slowly and then engage in small, non-aggressive chit-chat.
If he or she doesn’t return your smile or looks away quickly, they may be shy and need a little more time to warm up, or you may have misread the interaction. If that is the case–cut your losses and move on.
Capturing the attention of a stranger–especially a crush–can be an awkward and unpleasant experience but it needn’t be. Using tricks and wild antics to gain attention will get you noticed but not in the manner you would like.
Remember to take your time and shift your focus away from you and onto the other person. Try to avoid over thinking what you are going to say or using corny or fake pick- up lines. Then employ your technique: establish meaningful eye contact, build intensity and then approach slowly once you are sure your interest is appreciated and reciprocated.
Featured image by Tom Edgington on Flickr
Retirement is a time to kick back, slow down, and do all of the things you didn’t have time to do during your “clock-punching” years. But for an increasing number of retirees, becoming an entrepreneur is the new thing to do after leaving the workforce.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2015 the self-employment rate among retirement-aged workers (65 and older) was the highest of any age group, at just over 15 percent.
However, before diving headfirst into the pool of startups, here are a few questions you need to ask yourself before starting a small business in retirement. Read more.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately one-third of all businesses fail within the first two years. Half fold within five years. And of the businesses that fail, a banking survey showed that 82 percent do so because of cash flow issues.
These numbers are not meant to keep small-business owners up at night or deter new entrepreneurs. They’re simply a statement of fact and should serve as a reality check for all small business owners: Having an emergency fund is not optional.
In business, the term used to describe emergency or rainy day funds is “retained earnings.” Retained earnings are cash supplies that are kept on hand to enable your business to continue operating in lean times or in an emergency. These funds allow your business to keep providing services while making payroll, paying bills, and purchasing supplies, and they allow you — the owner — to continue sustaining your family’s income.
Most businesses fail due to a lack of preparation for the inevitable. Here are three major reasons your small business needs an emergency fund. Read more.
Haters are a part of life.
Hate comes in a variety of forms and can come from friends, family members, coworkers, classmates, associates and random internet trolls.
Haters are the tag-a-longs of success. If you have anything going for yourself, you will experience hate. If you are intelligent, charismatic, creative, thin, rich, a good cook, in a relationship, single, have kids, have a big booty, love your job, or have good hair you are a prime candidate for hate. You hear the snide comments, see the random side-eyes, read the hateful comments under your social media post. And you feel the tension when you try to discuss a recent win with a friend…
Since success is a hate magnet, it would seem that the only two coping options you have are to either embrace the hate or become a loser. And since becoming a loser isn’t an option for truly successful people, most choose to embrace it and use it as fuel. They ignore it when possible and address it when necessary.
But there is a third option…
The quickest and easiest way to turn a hater into a friend is to ask them for a favor.
Sounds crazy right?
It’s actually a well-researched psychological technique called the Ben Franklin Effect. When you ask people who dislike you to help you out, it shifts their perception of the relationship and makes them view you as a friend instead of an enemy. Ben Franklin used this technique to finesse a foe and gained a friend for life.
Once upon a time, Benjamin Franklin had a hater — someone he considered a “gentleman of fortune and education” and who would later become a political powerhouse and influential in government.
In order to recruit the hater to his side, Franklin decided to ask the man for a favor. He asked the gentleman to borrow a book from his library. The man was flattered and obliged the request. Franklin returned the book a week later with an eloquently worded thank-you note.
The next time the two men saw each other, the hater ‘s entire demeanor had changed. He was suddenly extremely friendly with Franklin. Franklin recorded the episode and noted that they remained friends until the gentleman died.
The Franklin Effect creates cognitive dissonance. According to cognitive dissonance theory, there exists an internal subconscious need for people to establish consistency in their beliefs, values and opinions. When attitudes and behaviors become inconsistent dissonance occurs. The brain hates dissonance and will seek to resolve it.
Dissonance occurs most often in situations where an individual must choose between two incompatible beliefs or actions. So, when it comes to requesting a favor, the reasonable belief is that favors are for friends. When you ask a hater for a favor you create dissonance and the hater has to alter their perception in order to perform the ask and eliminate the inconsistency.
Soliciting a favor is a subtle and very effective form of flattery. Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” suggests that requesting a favor allows the hater to feel that they have something you don’t. It levels the playing field in their mind. It also makes the hater feel admired and respected. Then, not only do they want to help you but they will also begin to see you differently. The hate dissipates.
Asking a hater for a favor requires humility and a bit of thought. The favor should be something small enough that it is easily performed but not so trivial that it seems more of an insult than a favor. This means that you should consider the strengths, weaknesses, intellect and ability level of the person you are asking.
If its someone you don’t know, keep the ask simple. Borrowing some change at the vending machine, asking them for assistance with an app on your smartphone or asking for a restaurant recommendation are quick favors that are easily performed by most people.
When you make your request, remember to ensure it sounds like a legitimate need and that you truly value the person’s help. Keep your tone humble and your body language open. And be sure you express your appreciation and gratitude for their help.
Turning every hater into a friend isn’t a plausible goal. In the end, some people aren’t going to like you know matter what you do. You have to learn how to be ok with that. But for the ones who may dislike due to a misconception or prejudgement, you can open the door of friendship with this one act of humility.
You’ve been diligently working to pay off that pesky credit card and get your finances in order. You’ve cut back on spending, quit eating out, and you drive for Uber and Lyft twice a month. Yet after all that hard work, you still didn’t pay the card off within six months like you planned.
Missing a milestone can be disheartening and demotivating. But just because you didn’t meet your debt payoff goal in the allotted time, doesn’t mean it’s time to quit. Consider this quote from Michael Jordan, arguably one of the greatest basketball players of all time:
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And this is why I succeed.”
Failure and falling short are risks in any meaningful endeavor. Here are several things you can do to bounce back after missing your credit card payoff goal. Read more.
Featured image by lemonjenny on Flickr
Dave Ramsey once said, “Debt is dumb, cash is king.” Truer words have never been spoken.
According to data from the U.S. Federal Reserve, the average amount of credit card debt per U.S. household is over $16,000. And even though debt and consumerism are the American way, staying up at night worrying about money doesn’t have to be the norm.
The ability to make the minimum payments on all your debts each month doesn’t constitute financial stability. Your credit card bills may not be keeping you up at night yet, but if you analyze your financial situation, you may find that you are closer to the edge than you think.
Here are a few warning signs that you have way too much debt: Read more.