Teens benefit from paying bills early

By Eric Bradford

paying bills poster

Found on Flickr

Managing money seems like a magical process when you don’t have to go work, when you aren’t responsible for paying bills. Yet, accountable adults know that balancing a budget and saving and investing wisely is anything but magical. It takes honesty, commitment and awareness to notice what you’re doing with your money. Simply receiving a significant income isn’t always enough to keep you out of debt.

Teens need to learn that money isn’t magic

Proof of this is revealed, in part, in the fact that the median annual income for Americans was at $52,098 as of June 2013. According to Huffington Post, “That’s down from $54,478 in June 2009, when the recession officially ended. And it’s below the $55,480 that the median household took in when the recession began in December 2007.”

The personal income downward shift that followed the Great Recession is a clear indicator that shows the value of developing strong budget and money management skills. Fail to gain these skills early and you might struggle, at times significantly. As a parent, you have the authority, access and influence to make the financial landscape easier for your children, particularly your teens.

In fact, budget skills you teach your teens could help them avoid going into debt, having their utilities shut off and their homes foreclosed. Steps you could take to teach your children about money and to help them develop healthy responsibility when it comes to paying bills for expenses that they create include:

  • Attending financial workshops with your children. Workshops that teach financial responsibility could inspire teens to taking paying bills on time seriously. (Check with your local bank to see if they offer free money management programs.)
  • Letting your children watch you sit down paying bills (takes the magic out of the money management process). When your teens see you paying bills, they see firsthand that paying bills isn’t a “magic” process. They also see that it can be done, that there’s no need to dodge or avoid bill collectors.
  • Discussing shopping choices with teens. For example, instead of working overtime to afford to buy teens their favorite video games, talk with teens about the many things they could use $50 to do or get. This might cause teens to start to think about what they really want, especially if they have to start paying bills for clothes, accessories and other purchases they want.

You could also let your teens pay their own cell phone and clothing bills. Instead of going grocery shopping while your teens stay at home, bring your teens with you. Depending on your children’s ages, you could also give them $80 to $100 and let them start grocery shopping. This single step can teach teens the value of money and how their purchasing decisions affect what’s in their wallet.

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Work from home tips that help you earn more money

By Rhonda Campbell

work from home money tipsThese work from home tips are based on years of firsthand experience. The tips could increase your profits, productivity and job satisfaction. One more huge plus — these tips could reduce your stress.

You already know that flexibility, the end of long commutes and the chance to achieve real work life balance are reasons why you and millions of other adults work from home. But, that doesn’t mean that working from home doesn’t come with challenges.

Why you need work from home tips

If you’re a working mother, you’ve felt the frustration of being asked to run errands, help with homework or babysit, all during your normal work hours. Just because you turned on your computer at home, people think they can give you projects to do for them.

Add these work from home tips to your day and you could see challenges disappear. For starters (this is really important), tell your family and friends that you’re working from home, actually working. You might tell them about projects that you are working on and how important it is that you complete the projects on time. Other work from home tips that work with this all important step are:

  • Post your work schedule on the refrigerator
  • List out projects that you are working at on a small chalkboard you’ve hung on your office door
  • Let your answering machine take phone messages while you’re working
  • Stop running minor errands during work hours
  • Stay on track with tools like IDoneThis (https://idonethis.com)
  • Upload finished projects into cloud software like DropBox (https://www.dropbox.com) or Trello (https://trello.com) to keep yourself honest, to encourage yourself to actually finish a certain number of projects each day.

Your work from home habits could increase or hurt your earnings

Other work from home tips have more to do with you, your routines and your mindset. Speaking of routines, make sure that you develop one. Set a start time, periods when you will take short five minute breaks and a 30 or 60 minute lunch break. Be clear about when you will end your day. If you don’t, you mind end up working damn near all the time. More about this below, and I hope you really pay attention.

Routine is where things can get tricky. If you don’t set and stick to a routine, you could go hours without taking a break (unless your bladder literally forces you to get up and go to the bathroom). Lunch might become a thing of the past and you could start working longer, even until the late evening.

More work from home tips are:

  • Get to know IT contacts. You may have found that your computer speed has slowed since you started telecommuting. Of all the work from home tips, this one could save you the most time, fits of impatience and outright anger. To keep your computer operating at an optimum level, avoid visiting websites that are riddled with ads, spam and cookies. Many companies have software that will block you from visiting the worst sites. You can also speed up your PC by clearing the cache files and only having a few documents and websites open at the same time.
  • Another thing – don’t let other people use your PC. If you worked at an office, you wouldn’t give this a second thought.
  • Figure out how much you are making by the hour. If you are paid $5,000 for a project and spend 300 hours to complete the project (about 2.5 months), you’re making $16.67 an Raise your rates to keep your hourly wage competitive.
  • Do your homework. Find out what other people in your industry are earning. It doesn’t matter if the people work from home or not. Just find out what the top, average and low wage ranges are. Assess your skills. Make sure that you are competitively paid for your skill level.
  • Continue to learn. Increase your skill level; negotiate to increase your wages.
  • Advertise your services. Keep your rates competitive. Working cheap is only going to attract clients who don’t think they should pay you well.
  • If you work from home for a corporation or other employer, visit your home office a few times a year. This can prevent you from feeling disconnected from colleagues and leadership. It could also keep your relationships with peers and supervisors strong.
  • Participate in online events that influence your industry. This keeps you connected.
  • Install comfortable furniture and equipment at your home office. If your keyboard is too high or too low due to your chair being the wrong height for your desk, your neck and back could start to ache.
  • Eat healthy. You need energy to stay focused, brainstorm and create ideas.
  • Yes! You’re glad that you could say “good bye” to that long commute to work, but that commute forced you to walk to and from your car or the train or bus station. Working at the office also required you to walk hallways and outside to pick up lunch. Make sure that you replace that activity by being mobile at home. Definitely, exercise for at least 30 to 45 minutes a day.
  • Sleep well. The brain needs to refresh. A good night of 8 to 9 hours of sleep is great for this. You might even want to wear an exercise wristband to measure how much deep sleep you get each night.

In addition to the above work from home tips, ensure that you stay in touch with relatives and friends. Spend time with friends and relatives on weekends. Don’t give into the temptation to work on weekends simply because you work from home. Also, monitor your productivity and eliminate distractions. This includes turning off the television, only checking work emails, not snacking needlessly and not surfing the web or reading social media posts.

Tools for people like you who want to earn more money while you work from home:

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Losing weight when you’re older

By Rhonda Campbell

lifting weights helps with losing weight

I remember a former colleague having a midlife crisis when she turned 30.  Yes – 30. Looking back, I wonder if she knew that everything was starting to change, that she wouldn’t be able to turn the clock back regardless of how hard she tried.

Losing weight really does get harder as you age

For years, I’d heard people exclaim that losing weight gets harder after you get older. “Starts after you hit your mid-30s,” some would say. Being a dedicated long distance runner in high school, I waved the talk off as nonsense. I don’t do that anymore.

Losing weight after you are a decade or more away from your roaring 20s is not easy. It’s not like it was when you could eat donuts, cheeseburgers, pizza and down soda only to wake the following morning sleek and toned. Losing weight when you’re older becomes easier the sooner you realize that your body is changing and start eating different foods.

Can’t say it enough – the sooner you realize what’s happening and start making the right changes, the better. That’s definitely tip #1.

Get eight to nine hours of sleep a night. Don’t think one matters? Test yourself. Sleep five to six hours a night for four days, then sleep eight to nine hours. Eat, drink and exercise the same on each of the days. Which days did you wake up weighing less? The days you slept less, or the days you slept more?

More ways to lose weight as you age

Start pumping iron. Your body loses muscle as it ages. Offset this by lifting weights. You can also do resistance exercises to build muscle, and speed up the weight loss process.

Add more protein and foods that are rich in fiber to your diet. Yes. That means fewer donuts and potato chips, but it’s a win that your knees, hips and thighs will thank you for. Black beans, lentils, broccoli, split peas, legumes, lima beans and blackberries are high in fiber. Fish, chicken, yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese, salmon, sardines and peanut butter are rich in protein.

Reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. Hormonal changes already cause blood sugar to spike as you age. Curbing your sugar intake could help you to lose weight. It could also help you to steer clear of diseases like diabetes.

Exercise in the morning and again after you eat your largest meal later in the day. An exercise fitness watch might motivate you to improve your exercise regime. It will definitely take the guessing out of your workouts.

Calories still count

Eat 500 fewer calories a day. A slower metabolism may still cause the weight to come down slower, but you will eventually lose weight if you don’t quit.

Perform 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three days a week. You could do this by jogging, climbing stairs or dancing. The importance is to train at a rapid pace to raise your heart rate. Interval training is another good cardiovascular exercise.

Change your workouts and diet as needed. If you reach a plateau and stop losing weight, cut back on calories further or lengthen your exercise training sessions. You could also increase your strength or weight training.

Regardless of the exercise and lifestyle dietary changes that you make, ensure that you are fit enough to take on a challenging exercise and dietary change. Also, get out and absolutely enjoy and savor life! As you find more ways to feel joyous, peaceful, rested and happy, your desire to reach for food to fill perceived gaps or losses in your life may reduce, possibly going away entirely.

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The Amazing Power of Focus

By Rhonda Campbell

focus on what you wantRomans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Buddha said, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” Your mind is powerful, perhaps more powerful than you realize. Have you ever stopped to consider what you could achieve if you focused your thoughts on a single purpose or goal?

Being that it generally takes 30 days of consistent thought or behavior to form a habit (or to train your mind to automatically do something without consciously thinking about it) it can only help if you clearly identified your business goals now and started focusing on steps you’re going to take to bring those goals to fruition. You don’t have to write down complex goals. Just get an outline of your goals on paper.

I know.  I know.  You’ve heard a lot about goal setting over the last several years and you’re ready to give up on it, because you still haven’t gotten the business results you wanted. However, if you take a closer look at your goals, your thoughts patterns and the numbers of distractions you let sidetrack you, it might become clear to you how you might be getting in your own way.

To focus your thoughts and achieve your goals, keep your goals short. For example, for a financial goal, you could write, “Your goal is to earn at least $10,000 this month.” Next, place your written goal in an area (e.g. on the wall above your office desk) where you will easily see it every day. This helps your focus to move down into your subconscious mind. An advantage of focusing on a goal until it gets into your subconscious is that, once your goal gets into your subconscious mind, you can start working to reach your goal 24/7, even while you’re sleeping.

Also, to strengthen your focus, you can imagine yourself receiving checks after customers order your products and services. Doing so reinforces your goal on your subconscious mind. After this happens, don’t be surprised if you start having dreams about your goals. This is a sign that your subconscious got the message and is working on the goals.

Pay attention to your dreams. They might give you clues regarding steps you can take to move forward with your goals. For example, you might dream about a local television host. This could be a way your subconscious mind is trying to direct you to schedule an interview with the host to talk about your upcoming product launch.

As you go after your goal, be aware of distractions (e.g. financial worries, relationship concerns) your mind creates that weren’t there before. This may be a way that a part of your mind is resisting progress, working to shift your focus off your goal onto whatever has seemingly just “popped up out of nowhere.” Brush these distractions aside. In other words, don’t focus on distracting comments or events. Instead, focus on your goal. Train your mind to focus, because it’s what you think about most that’s going to show up in your life.

Strategies and actions you can take to help your mind focus include:

Meditating for 5 to 10 minutes a day – You can do this by sitting still with your feet flat on the floor and breathing deeply and slowly. Listen to yourself breath and let any thoughts that pass through your mind just flat through like clouds moving across the sky. Don’t focus on the thoughts; just let them float by.

Expressing appreciation that your goal is already (right now) fulfilled; it’s just has to take physical shape, that’s all which your focus is going to help it do

Enjoying a walk or jog outside for an hour a day. Natural light does wonders for the human system.

Listening to positive conversation, music, etc. daily

Completing daily tasks on time, definitely when you say you will

Thanking others for any and all support they offer you

Being open to changing your habits and routines (answers to goal requests sometimes come in the form of unexpected events)

Supporting others – All living beings are connected. As you help others, you help yourself.

Regularly doing what you love demonstrates that you appreciate yourself. Use this energy to continue to move forward

Focus on what you want, what causes you to experience and feel joy, not on what others have.

As a tip, try to focus on one goal at a time. You have enough different events happening in your life everyday already. Don’t load your mind with a myriad of goals as this can cause you to water down the impact of focus. Also make sure that you truly want the goal as it may take a period of ongoing focus before the goal materializes. But if you want the goal enough, you won’t mind putting in the thought work.

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Faith fills in vision gaps

By Rhonda Campbellfaith and vision quote
Creative ideas and the faith and vision to see the steps needed to implement those ideas are at the heart of tremendous success. Madam C. J. Walker, Mary McLeod Bethune, Henry Ford and Jeff Bezos are but a handful of business visionaries who lived out a dream. Each developed a product or service that experts said wouldn’t endure (or get off the ground), let alone succeed. It took insight, innovation, courage and powerful forward thinking.

What’s on your mind?

Wilferd Peterson said, “Big thinking precedes great achievement.” As truthful as that may be, great achievers know that success demands right action. Henry David Thoreau put it eloquently, sharing that, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”

But, how do you implement faith and keep going when what you saw in your mind doesn’t appear to be coming together? What if you’ve been trying to materialize a vision for years, perhaps decades? How do you stay encouraged to keep taking right action then? You have faith.

Faith is key

The dictionary defines faith as the “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 1 says that, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Almost sounds like faith is a material, an energy or something you can actually work with, create with.

“The substance of things hoped for” . . . substance. Think about that word for a minute — substance. So faith isn’t a wish. Faith isn’t something to be taken lightly. If faith was a food ingredient and you were making a cake, faith would be flour. It fuels vision. Could it actually bring things from the invisible into the visible?

To muscle up your faith, keep your vision in front of you. Think about what you want even if you’ve been taking action for years to achieve a dream. If faith doesn’t fail (it doesn’t) and you take the right action, something has to happen.

Exercise faith and take the next steps

Journal or record the times when faith and vision marry and make you a part of new achievements. Appreciate each step, however small you judge the step to be, that you take. After all, if each step that you take is leading you to the fulfillment of a larger dream, aren’t those seemingly small steps huge?

Open your eyes and see just how far you have come to date. See that you aren’t where you started. Realize that you probably won’t see the finish from the start, which is where faith comes in. Faith fills in the gaps when your vision grows dim. Faith knows that you are going to win. It’s time that you let it go to work for you.

At some point in your pursuit of success, you’re going to have to exercise faith. Why not start now?

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Steps to social media engagement

By Rhonda Campbell

social media marketing image

Found at Social Media Today

The importance of social media engagement is increasing. Social media engagement is becoming more important because social media networks are starting to remove inactive accounts. If you’ve noticed a drop in your Facebook business page likes, you’ve already seen the impact of this. Click on the Insights tab at the top of your Facebook page and you’ll learn that Facebook is removing inactive followers’ likes.

Show followers how much you care

More importantly, deep social media engagement builds relationships, trust, expectation and success. Think of it this way. Would you want to keep dating a guy who never called you first? You’d probably start to worry that the guy wasn’t really into you.

It’s the same with social media. When your followers only hear from you when you post messages about a sale, coupon, new product launch or upgraded service you’re offering, your followers might start to doubt that you truly value them. Therefore, as a first step to building social media engagement, develop a content or editorial calendar.

Stay on schedule

Set the editorial calendar up week-by-week. Identify the types of posts that you’ll push out to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social media networks your business has a presence at. For example, if you own a beauty salon, you could schedule a beauty tip on Monday, a coupon on Tuesday, a beauty history fact on Wednesday, a link to your latest newsletter on Thursday and a series of client before and after pictures on Friday or Saturday.

Respond to comments and questions that followers leave at your social media sites. Not only could this keep a follower from becoming inactive, which could impact your overall follower status, it could turn a watcher into an active supporter.

To show your followers that you care about them and are listening to what they have to say, respond to posts they make away from your site, posts that have nothing to do with your business. For example, you could give a thumbs up to a graduation picture that a follower post.

Communicate with pictures

Images generate higher social media engagement than pure text. Social Media Examiner says that images increase Facebook social media engagement by 85%. Add a picture to your Twitter posts and  you could receive 35% more shares. Rather than posting stock photos, post pictures of real life events  (i.e. volunteer event, holiday party, seminar) you took at a business event you hosted or attended.

Don’t limit all posts to images. Offer your followers a myriad of content options. Other steps to more social media engagement are to ask followers industry specific questions. Post quizzes and entice followers to complete polls.

When it comes to measuring how active your followers are, Social Mention, Topsy and social media insights are tools to consider. Forbes also suggest Icerocket, HootSuite and Google alerts. As with an editorial calendar, schedule a time each week when you’ll review and analyze the traffic.

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Preparing to start a freelance career

By Rhonda Campbell

Found on Business News Daily

Found on Business News Daily

You’ve saved eight months or more of gross income  in preparation of launching a freelance career. You’ve also familiarized yourself with tax deductions that you qualify for as a freelancer. Your budget is in good shape and you have the office supplies and family support that you need to focus on assignments without constantly being interrupted by relatives and friends who think you’re just hanging out because you’re working from home.

Now, it’s time to prepare to start a winning freelance career. It bears repeating that you’re going to need to sit down and speak with your relatives and close friends, this includes small children. Be clear and let them know that you’re still working full-time . . . from home. Just as they wouldn’t call you 20 or more times while you worked off-site at a traditional job, let them know that you can’t succeed as a freelancer if they interrupt you 20 plus times while you’re working from home.

Other steps you can take to prepare for a successful freelance career, include:

  • Identify an area in your home where you’ll work absent interruptions. Forget putting a TV in this room. You need to focus on your work. Do hang artwork and place family portraits in your at home office. Order or construct a comfortable desk and chair. Ergonomics are no joke; you really need to be healthy and comfortable while you pursue your freelance career.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast and take a daily break so you can get in good exercise.
  • Don’t scrimp on sleep. Relax and knock out six or more hours of sleep each night.
  • Set a daily work schedule and stick to it. Fudge on this one and, as surprising as it may sound, you could easily end up working until midnight or later.
  • Spend an hour a day searching for new clients. Even if you have five or more major clients, if you want a long term freelance career, keep seeking out new clients.
  • Spend one to two hours a week marketing your services online and offline (i.e. creating and distributing postcards, attending in-person networking events, fulfilling public speaking engagements that focus on the work you do).
  • Update your budget on a weekly or monthly (at a minimum) basis. Stick to your budget. Definitely identify how much money you’ll need to generate each week and month to cover your expenses. If you want to succeed as a freelancer, guessing about how much money you have is not the way to go. Spreadsheets are great tools to use to create and track your freelance career expenses and overall budget.
  • Take two to three training courses (consider free online courses) a year to expand your skill set.
  • Create contracts that protect your and your clients from a legal standpoint.

If you run into financial challenges while freelancing, don’t be proud and avoid taking on a traditional gig for awhile. For example, you could take on a part-time traditional job until your client work increases and your freelance career becomes your sole or major source of income. Remember – the key is to do work that you love, not to be able to say that you work from home.

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