Archive for January 24th, 2012

DSEF & Money Wise Women: Women Empower Yourselves: Understand Your Debt and Credit Report

DSEF & Money Wise Women: Women Empower Yourselves: Understand Your Debt and Credit Report

Today’s highlighted post from Money Wi$e Women Get Smart Teleseminar Series (Click here):

Women Empower Yourselves: Understand Your Debt and Credit Report

Your credit report can be very confusing but it has great power over many aspects of your life: employment eligibility, mortgage and rental applications, utility and phone service deposits, insurance premiums and loan and credit card rates. To maintain good financial health, it is crucial for you to understand the different types of debt, the consequences of not paying, and how your debt behavior affects your credit report and score.

Hollis Colquhoun

Hollis Colquhoun is an Accredited Financial Counselor and has over twenty years of experience in the financial industry. Starting out as an institutional trader and salesperson for a Wall Street brokerage firm, she later became one of its first female partners. Hollis worked in the Corporate Bond Departments of several New York firms then moved into the distressed securities market where she helped set up a new brokerage operation for one of Wall Street’s masters of “value investing”. Three years later, Hollis stopped working to devote more time and attention to raising her three daughters. She also became very involved in local community projects and a nonprofit education foundation. Two years ago, Hollis was hired by a nonprofit credit counseling agency and received certification as an Accredited Financial Counselor and as a Certified Personal Finance Counselor. Over a two-year period, Hollis counseled thousands of clients who were drowning in debt and in need of financial guidance. She also conducted workshops on budgeting and credit for local community organizations and New Jersey State welfare-to-work programs.

DSEF proudly sponsors the free Money Wi$e Women Get Smart Teleseminar Series hosted by Marcia Brixey, Founder and President of Money Wise Women Educational Services and author ofThe Money Therapist: A Woman’s Guide to Creating a Healthy Financial Life. The series covers topics related to business and finances and provides women the opportunity to learn from professional experts in a safe, comfortable environment.

To find out about upcoming teleseminars, visit

How Mantras Can Help Improve Your Business

How Mantras Can Help Improve Your Business

Mantras were originally meant to be repeated in a meditative manner for the purpose of finding serenity and focus. They can also be used in the business world to motivate and concentrate your efforts.  Here are some ways that implementing a mantra can improve your business.

  • Stay focused on goals and values.  A mantra is brief and memorable.  As such, it is an easy phrase for you to reflect upon and repeat in many day-to-day operations.  For example, auto rental giant Avis has adopted the mantra, “We try harder,” which clear, concise, and fully encompasses the company’s main objective.  By repeating this mantra and keeping it at the forefront of daily business dealings, you are sure to satisfy customers and keep them coming back.
  • Develop, implement, and maintain a business strategy. Let the mantra guide such important decisions from idea to finished product.  When taking on or creating anything new, the number one question should be, “Is this consistent with my business mantra?”  The answer should be yes, so that you know that this idea matches the core of what the business is all about.
  • Manage your stress levels. Owning a business is overwhelming to say the least, mostly because the buck stops with you.  Use your mantra to keep your goals in mind and guide your decisions for the benefit of the company.  Always come back to it for problem solving and conflict resolution, two other high stressors of business ownership.
  • Communicate with your customers.  Use your mantra as a liaison between your business and the outside world.  A good mantra makes it easy for others to understand what the company is all about.  By using it as a tagline in advertising and promotional materials, you make yourself memorable and edge out your competitors.  This of course can lead to increased clientele and improved sales.
  • Here are some examples:
    • Move your feet to get it complete
    • Make one more goal to go for gold
    • More No means more Yes
    • A day’s work brings pay
    • Focus on task so you can bask
    • Ready, Set and get ahead
    • No pain no gain.

Remember, to keep your mantra short and memorable. Repetition of your mantra will help you focus, reduce negative self-talk and help you accomplish your task. It can also remind you of your core business goals and its very reason for existing.  A well-written mantra can be a valuable tool that leads your business to success. Do you use mantras? Please share your mantra with us in the comments.

Know Thyself and Drink Lemonade

Know Thyself and Drink Lemonade

Know Thyself and Drink Lemonade

Guest post by Lora Kloth

“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade…”

As a small business owner you probably can relate to my recent career experience. Although I don’t have a business of my own, I had a circumstance that forced me to evaluate my career goals, personal finances, and self-discovery.

Three years ago, my career as full-time association research librarian abruptly changed—my hours were reduced to part-time.  I felt deluged with lemons.

I allowed myself a brief hiatus for frustration, but realized that wasted time.  I realized the new schedule created an opportunity for me to try new things. And then I discovered aspects of myself I didn’t know existed as I adapted to an uncertain future:

  • I enjoyed brief “stay-at-home mom” status.
  • I considered a career change to court reporting and went back to school—and failed miserably!  But in this “failure” I realized my true calling is librarianship.
  • I accepted the opportunity to teach information literacy despite never having taught anything before. But I did it, successfully, and made wonderful connections.

Here are guidelines to help become “future ready” when your career takes an unexpected turn:

Identify career goals, take stock of your personal life, and find a balance.

  • Discover your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Realize that “failure” offers experience and potential for future success.
  • Don’t underestimate what you can achieve.
  • Be flexible.
  • Try new things!
  • Know what makes you happy.
  • Interact with diverse groups of people.
  • Commit to lifelong learning.

Upon reflection, those same guidelines also apply to managing personal finances and building a secure financial future:

Become Informed.  Learn about different investments vehicles and be actively involved in financial decisions.

  • You can do it!  Don’t be intimidated by the world of money.  Have confidence in your abilities.  Ask questions and get answers!  Your credit union is a great source for advice, products and services.
  • Don’t be overwhelmed.  Commit to slow and steady progress by setting goals.
  • Make a budget. Then stick to it.
  • Reduce debt.  Establish a savings plan and whittle away at those credit card bills.
  • Consider the importance of tax planning. Seek the services of a professional.
  • Don’t forget about retirement!  Set up an IRA or other investment vehicle to prepare for your future.
  • Know your risk tolerance.  Can you sleep at night with the types of investments you have? Are you in it for the long-term?

Getting tossed a “lemon” turned into an opportunity for me. It gave me a greater sense of confidence, self-reliance, independence, and satisfaction knowing I really was in charge. In the process, I developed a contingency plan for unexpected life events.

Start your financial future now. Look back at your experiences—are you willing to learn and move ahead if you’re tossed a lemon? Are you in control of your personal finances? Know thyself! Lemonade is actually a refreshing beverage.

Lora Kloth is research librarian at Credit Union National Association in Madison, Wisconsin. She earned her M.A. in Library and Information Studies at Northern Illinois University, and her B.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.  She enjoys making lemonade with her two daughters, ages 13 and 7.