All posts tagged recordkeeping

Becoming a Money Wise Woman

Becoming a Money Wise Woman

We have only to examine a few statistics to understand why it’s important to become educated on financial issues and begin planning our futures now. Between raising children and taking care of parents, women are losing an average of 14.7 years from the workplace. A woman who is out of the work force for one year must work five years to recover lost income, pension coverage and promotional opportunities.  In spite of our best intentions, between the 43% divorce rate and the fact that women tend to live seven to ten years longer than men, the reality is that if we aren’t already, most of us are going to be the sole person responsible for our financial security at some points in our lives.

Marcia Brixey

Women are by nature, caretakers. We take care of our children, husbands, partners, grandchildren and parents. We take care of everyone, but ourselves. But, ladies we need to be proactive and make an investment in ourselves. The investment we make now will determine our quality of life both financially and personally in the years ahead.

I wrote this in my first Kitsap Sun article – Becoming a Money Wise Woman in January 2003. Although 10 years later the statistics are still much the same, Money Wise Women has provided thousands of women with the tools and education to live financially healthy. More than 6,600 women have attended 70 Money Wise Women Conferences in Washington, California, Idaho and Oregon since November 2002.

Several years ago Money Wise Women joined forces with the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) to educate and empower women on their financial and business goals through the Money Wise Women Teleseminar Series. The free teleseminars (thanks to DSEF’s sponsorship) cover a variety of topics relating to finance and business. Topics include investing, credit reports, credit card debt, goal setting, time management and much more.

Each monthly listeners have the opportunity to listen live to my interview with powerful women who are experts in their field. We tape the teleseminar allowing women to listen and learn at their leisure in the comfort of their own home. Upcoming Money Wise Women Teleseminars include:

  • Treating Your Business Like a Professional with Deb Bixler
    May 7, 2013
  • A Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement with Jan Cullinane
    June 11, 2013
  • Calling All Super Complainers with Michele Corey
    July 9, 2013
  • A Man is Not a Financial Plan with Candace Bahr and Ginita Wall
    August 13, 2013
  • Business in the You Economy with Tara Gentile
    October 8, 2013
  • Communicating with Many Generations with Jennifer Fong
    November 12, 2013

If you’re ready to get financially healthy and/or take your business to the next level visit Money Wise Women Teleseminar website – to listen to past teleseminars and sign up for upcoming teleseminars.

“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” Goethe

About Marcia Brixey 

During her 26 years working for the Social Security Administration Marcia Brixey met thousands of women who experienced financial difficulties resulting from a personal crisis – husband’s death, divorce, illness or loss of a job. In August 2002 she founded Money Wise Women Educational Services to ensure every woman is financially articulate, confident, secure and independent. Today she hosts and speaks at Money Wi$e Women Conferences throughout the Western United States. Marcia also hosts the popular Money Wi$e Women Teleseminar Series. She is the author of The Money Therapist: A Woman’s Guide to Creating a Healthy Financial Life (Seal Press). Ms. Brixey regularly blogs for Money Wise Women and

Ms. Brixey’s been the featured speaker at numerous conferences including the Women’s Money Conference in Reno and Las Vegas; Central California Women’s Conference in Fresno, CA; Prudential Financial Stepping Out Conference in Santa Clara, CA and Chicago IL; Choice Hotels Convention in Orlando, FL; Oklahoma Society of CPAs Invest in Herself: Journey to Financial Freedom Conference in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, OK; Washington State Employed Women in Vancouver, WA; Today’s Woman Expo in Boise, ID; Invest in Yourself Strategies for Women Conference in Costa Mesa, CA; and Northwest Women’s Show, Seattle WA and Portland OR. She’s also spoken at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI.

Marcia is a former columnist for The Kitsap Sun newspaper, which serves the Kitsap Peninsula in Western Washington. She has been a guest on Northwest Afternoon (Seattle, KOMO TV), View from the Bay (San Francisco, ABC affiliate), Good Day Sacramento, About the Money (Seattle, PBS affiliate) and Sonoran Living Live (Phoenix, ABC15 TV). Marcia’s been interviewed on numerous radio shows and featured on CBS Report of the Week with Brian Banmiller. Marcia’s print media appearances include Quick and Simple, Redbook, Family Circle, Reader’s Digest, Ladies Home Journal, Puget Sound Business Journal, Seattle Woman Magazine, and US News and World Report. She is a member of the My Own Business Institute Advisory Panel. Ms. Brixey received the 2006 YWCA Woman of Achievement award in Kitsap County.

Marcia was inspired to take early retirement from her public relations job with the Social Security Administration in August 2002 after reading the quote “Our purpose in life is to find our gift, perfect it and give it back to others”. Ms. Brixey’s experience with the Social Security Administration includes District Manager, Supervisor, and Public Relations Specialist. She graduated from California State University, East Bay with a B.S. degree in Business Administration.


10 Tips for Reducing Financial Stress

10 Tips for Reducing Financial Stress

10 Tips for Reducing Financial Stress from http://dsef.orgFinancial stress is never a comfortable feeling. Worrying about how a bill will be paid or if you’ll have enough money at the end of the month can cause pressure in relationships and take the fun out of what you do each day. Fortunately, there are some specific things you can do to reduce financial stress and enjoy life more. Here are some tips:

  1. Get Educated on Finance – Far too many people have not received a proper financial education, and are unacquainted with how to properly manage their finances. This causes stress, because we often fear what we do not understand. Fortunately, it really isn’t complicated, and there are many good resources out there, including books, conferences, websites and more, that you can use to learn about topics such as how to create a household budget, get out of debt, and live free of financial stress. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is one good site to check out:, as is the Women’s Money organization: 
  2. Keep a Spending Journal – Often we spend money throughout the week without really having a clear picture of where it goes. So record every single purchase in a small notebook you keep with you, or on your smartphone (there are a number of apps out there for this purpose.) Take a look at what you’ve spent your money on, and decide what you can cut out. You may find you can significantly reduce your expenses just by keeping track of what you spend.
  3. Get a Clear Picture of Your Current Finances – Knowing what you spend while out and about is only part of the picture. Sit down and write out what you earn each month, as well as all the places your money goes. Write down your payments for rent and utilities, debt and interest, activities for your children, donations, etc. Be sure you know where every cent is coming in and where it’s going out. Once it’s all written down, you will know exactly how much you earn and how much you’re spending. Are you spending more than you earn? Then you have two choices: Reduce what you spend, or make more money. It’s really that simple.
  4. Create a Budget (and Stick to It!) – Now that you know what the current state of your finances is, you’re ready to create a budget. We talked about creating a budget for your small business last week. You also need a household budget. Include your income, along with your expected expenses. Aim to spend no more than 90% of your income on a regular basis, so you can begin to accumulate some savings. This free Money 101 online course from CNN Money has information on creating a household budget, along with many other tips to using and growing your money wisely.
  5. Pay Off Debt – It’s important to pay off debt to reduce your financial stress. After all, every interest payment means the thing you initially bought is costing you more and more money. Was that thing really worth it? So for example, if you have credit card debt, call your creditors and see if they are willing to reduce interest rates. If you’ve got good credit, they may be willing to work with you. Then focus on one card at a time, and pay more than the minimum each month. Set yourself a time limit, and work to eliminate that debt as quickly as you can, so you can keep more of the money you earn and stop spending money on interest instead of things that your family can use and enjoy.
  6. Reduce What You Spend – In addition to getting rid of debt, look for ways you can spend less. Some of this is simply related to making daily choices based on your spending journal. But you may also be able to reduce payments on things you use. Call your television, phone and utility companies and see if they have a lower rate you qualify for. Maybe you can reduce your television package or switch to another provider offering a better deal. Also consider changing some of the things you’ve taken for granted. For example, if you’ve always sent your kids to a certain camp for the summer, look around and see if there might be a less expensive…but still fun!…option. You might even take a week or two off from camp and create your own home “camp” that helps you build family memories your kids will never forget.
  7. Create an Emergency Fund – Many families fall into financial stress due to unexpected expenses. One of the best ways to combat this is by having an emergency fund. If you’re focusing on spending only 90% or less of your income, take the other 10% and put it into an emergency fund that you set aside for unexpected expenses. Keep it in a savings account which you can access when the funds are needed. But remind yourself that this savings is ONLY for emergencies. Resist the urge to dip in for a vacation or other luxury. If you want to go on vacation or redo your kitchen, add a separate budget line item to your household budget, keep a separate savings account, and put money away for what you want there.
  8. Add Extra Income – Sometimes you’ll look at your budget, reduce what you spend, and still find that you aren’t making enough. At that point, it’s a good idea to find a way to add extra income to your budget. You could start a home-based business or get a second job. Take a good look at your schedule and carve out the times you could spend on another job. A new stream of income can be a great way to reduce stress, pay off debt, and reach your financial goals. And it can also be a way to add something you love to your life. Don’t just settle! Since you’re cutting into your free time to do this, look for an income opportunity that will be something you enjoy. For example, if you love cooking, you might look for a direct sales company opportunity that allows you to do cooking shows.
  9. Sell Things You Don’t Need or Use Anymore – In addition to working an additional job, you may find that there are things you have around your home that you don’t need or use anymore. Considering selling these things through consignment or online. While this won’t bring long-term income, it can be a way to pay off some immediate debt or start an emergency fund. Plus, reducing the clutter in your home can be a stress reducer!
  10. Realize There is More to Life than Finances – Taking control of your finances is exceptionally important. Every family should keep track of what they are earning and spending, and pass this knowledge on to the next generation. But keep in mind, too, that there is more to life than finances. Take time to be with your loved ones and appreciate the moments that pass far too quickly, but add joy to life. Don’t let finances keep you from embracing the wonderful gifts you have in your life, because they are things that money can’t buy.

How do you reduce financial stress? What tips would you give? We’d love to read them in the comments.
Nevada Women's Money Conference Flyer from

As part of National Financial Literacy Month, we at DSEF are proud to sponsor the Nevada Women’s Money Conference. This important event helps women learn the skills they need to create a secure financial future for themselves and their families. While Reno is sold out, there is still room in the Las Vegas session on April 27, 2013. Best of all, we’re providing full scholarships to the conference for women in DSA member companies! For more information, visit this page: And please, pass this along to the women you love in Nevada. This is an amazing opportunity that can make a HUGE difference in a woman’s life! Thanks for helping us spread the word!


Creating a Budget for Your Small Business

Creating a Budget for Your Small Business

Tips for Creating Your Small Business Budget from http://dsef.orgWhen you have a small business, a budget can be a valuable tool to not only keep you on track, but also help you to grow. However, when the money that comes into your business fluctuates, it can be hard to plan ahead. Fortunately, there are some ways that you can create an estimated budget even if you have a variable income. Here are some tips to help:

  • Know your averages: It’s important that you know what the average income you can earn is for each activity in your business, as well as average expenses. For example, what is the average amount you earn per transaction or party? How much do you spend on average per month on business supplies? You may need to do some research to get these numbers, if you don’t have your own historical data. When you know your averages, you know how much you need on your calendar each month to earn an estimated amount, and can do the things necessary to get those things onto your calendar.
  • Know your fixed and variable costs: Are there things you pay for each month, quarter, or year? Things like your cell phone bill, rent, or website fees are fixed costs. You may have other expenses each month that change as well, like marketing fees or other one-time or fluctuating expenses. These are your variable costs, and you may be able to anticipate them by looking at how much you spent the previous year on certain seasonal events. Know how much is going out each month, and be sure you have enough income-producing activities scheduled to exceed these expenses.
  • Write it all down: We shared with you last week a Direct Sales Business Budget Worksheet. Use it! It is essential that you keep track of the money coming in and going out from your business. Small business owners that avoid the financial details are far more likely to fail than ones that pay attention. Record both your estimated and actual income and expenses, and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Be conservative in your estimates: It’s important to have some extra income set aside for unanticipated expenses, so you have some flexibility in your business. So even if you think you’re going to earn a certain amount, plan for the fact that you will earn less than you anticipate. And even though you think your expenses will be a certain amount, plan that they will be greater. It’s better to have more money than you anticipate at the end of the month than to have less. By estimating conservatively, the amount you have at the end of the month will be closer to what you expect.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs often neglect the important step of creating a budget because it doesn’t seem like the most exciting part of business ownership. Yet it is an important element of the overall health of your business.

Nevada Women's Money Conference Flyer from http://dsef.orgAs part of National Financial Literacy Month, we at DSEF are proud to sponsor the Nevada Women’s Money Conference. This important event helps women learn the skills they need to create a secure financial future for themselves and their families. Best of all, we’re providing full scholarships to the conference for women in DSA member companies! For more information, visit this page: And please, pass this along to the women you love in Nevada. This is an amazing opportunity that can make a HUGE difference in a woman’s life! Thanks for helping us spread the word!

Tips for Taking Control of Your Business Finances

Tips for Taking Control of Your Business Finances

Tips for Taking Control of Your Business Finances from http://dsef.orgAs a business owner, your ability to manage the money you earn is just as, or even more important than actually making the money. Are you using your money wisely, or simply wasting it? Here are some tips for taking control of your finances and keeping more of what you earn:

  1. Write it Down: Even when it seems like a pain, or just one more thing to do, writing down the money that you earn in your business, and the money that you spend, is a valuable activity. When you see your income and expenses in black and white, it helps you make better decisions, and identify areas of waste. Use this simple spreadsheet: Business Income_Expenses Tracker, or your own method to track your income and expenses for your business. And the best part? By keeping track of your income and expenses daily or weekly, preparing your taxes is a lot easier!
  2. Know Your Averages: When you earn income based on commission, it can seem like a challenge to create and stick to a budget. But it doesn’t have to be! Find out what the averages are for your business: Average party sales, average you spend on a party, average sale per person, average autoship order, average downline commissions per downline member, etc. Then add up the number of income-producing activities you’re expecting to do each month, and use the average amount you can earn for each one. That gives you the total amount of money you have that month to work with. For example, if you can earn $120 per average party in your company and typically spend $20 per party on expenses (printing, gas, prizes, postage, etc.), and you have 4 parties scheduled that month, you can budget $400 for the month in party income. By knowing what you have on your calendar, you can create a monthly budget. And if something unexpected happens, you know exactly what you need to add to your calendar to reach your budgeted numbers.
  3. Make a Budget: It’s very easy to impulse buy. The latest gadget is awfully tempting, and you know that marketing tool is just the thing to bring in more business. But before jumping in, make sure you’ve got the income to support the purchase. Plan your monthly income and expenses first using a budget sheet like this one: Direct Sales Business Budget Worksheet Then you’ll know how much your business can support in expenses, and if the return is worth the investment.

How well do you know how to manage your personal and business finances? Take this online quiz to find out how much you know!

Nevada Women's Money Conference Flyer from http://dsef.orgKnowing how to manage your business finances is key to creating the income you want in your direct sales business. That’s why we’re excited to partner with the Women’s Money Conference in Nevada to provide FREE full scholarships for women in DSA member companies to attend the conference. If you’re a woman in Nevada, or know a direct seller who is, get all the details on this 2014 conference here:

What tips do you have for managing your business finances? We’d love to read your tips in the comments below!

Time for a Small Business Check-Up

Time for a Small Business Check-Up

Woman Writing on Pad of PaperWhen was the last time you performed a check-up on your business? It’s an important practice. Think of it like maintenance on your car: every three months or 3,000 miles, you change the oil, rotate the tires, and possibly top off the fluids and check the engine. Doing so will help you identify and correct small problems, in order to keep your car running smoothly for years to come. The same goes for your business. By regularly scheduling a review of your business activities, you can make sure you focus on the things that are helping your business grow, while correcting things that would hold you back.

When performing your small business check-up, here are some of the elements on which you should focus:

  • Review your finances, looking for ways to reduce expenses and maximize profits. For example, you’ve been purchasing your office supplies from the same distributor for many years. Do some research to make sure you’re still getting the best price. Furthermore, reduce expenses by eliminating non-essentials. Take note of what you use on an everyday basis for about a week to figure out where you might be able to cut back.
  • Use a third party to help you objectively assess risks and weaknesses. For any risks you have recently taken or are thinking of taking, seek a third party’s perspective. They may be able to help you catch a detail you have missed. For example, one local children’s boutique owner is thinking about changing locations to gain more space for her expanding product line. She asked the opinion of a friend who lives in the area of the prospective location, who quickly informed her that although the location gets a good amount of foot traffic, most of the clientele is not her target market. This is a valuable piece of information that could have a make or break effect on the business.
  • Consider each of your business processes from start to end. What happens from the time a customer enters your business for the first time to the moment he or she leaves? Is the person greeted cordially, offered assistance and given it accordingly, served promptly, and treated with respect? Customer service is a major aspect of your business and its process deserves frequent review and improvement. Give the same attention to each of your processes when conducting your business check-up.
  • Review your overall strategy and make necessary adjustments. Is your strategy to reach the widest customer base possible? Do you strive to carve out a niche market and cater to a specific few? Whatever strategy you have laid out for the success of your business needs careful and frequent review. Create a list of what is working and what isn’t. Make adjustments where they are needed, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and help.

The long-term success of your business will only happen if you tend to the details on a regular basis. Some areas may need more attention than others, but reviewing these aspects often will help you avoid potential setbacks, and focus on the growth of your business.

How do you check up on your business? Please share your ideas below!

DSEF & BBB: 6 Tips For Safe Mobile Banking

DSEF & BBB: 6 Tips For Safe Mobile Banking

blue_with_website-225x30022By Jerri Stroud

Banking through your mobile phone is catching on fast, with a third of U.S. cell phone users expected to try mobile banking over the next year.

But how safe is it? What happens if you lose your cell phone or if someone steals it? Can they empty your bank account simply by tapping their smart phone against yours?

The BBB advises consumers to be smart about mobile banking, and these six tips can help:

  1. Install antivirus applications on your mobile device to protect yourself from viruses or malware when you download other applications or content.
  2. Keep your passwords, personal information and bank account numbers private. Don’t share them with anyone unless you initiate the contact and you know you are dealing with your bank or its mobile application.
  3. Don’t save passwords, personal identification number (PIN), answers to secret questions or account numbers on your device. Make sure you use strong passwords, which include numbers or symbols in addition to letters.
  4. Set your phone or other mobile devices to require a password when they are powered up. Never set the device to automatically log in to your bank account.
  5. Don’t respond to text messages asking for your banking information. Assume that any unsolicited text message is fraud. Your bank will not contact you by sending a text message.
  6. Notify your mobile service provider and your bank if your phone is lost or stolen.
For more consumer tips or to check out a company’s BBB Business Review, go to

DSEF and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) foster honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit for more information.

Why You Procrastinate

Why You Procrastinate

doubtProcrastination is a challenge we all have from time to time.  Perhaps there is a fear of failure, being overwhelmed by a complex project, or too many distractions in our daily lives. The good news is that there are several effective ways to combat this problem. If procrastination gets the better of you, ask yourself the following questions.

  • Are you settling for less? Procrastination may be caused by a lack of passion. If you are settling for less, then whatever it is that needs to be done feels unimportant, and the result is procrastination. So, make sure you understand why you want to achieve your goal and make it meaningful. Realize that action is required to reach what you want, and it is necessary to put forth your greatest effort each time to achieve success.
  • Do you have a clear goal or plan of action? Lack of direction is a common reason why people procrastinate, especially when tackling a long-term project. Set an objective that includes your desired outcome, and then break it down into smaller, manageable parts. If you need to redesign your company’s website, for instance, decide why it should be done and what will come of it. Your objective might be: Redesign the company website to improve customer navigation, increase internet visibility on search engines, and reach a broader customer base. Now that you have laid out the reasons why you are tackling such a project, you can more easily break it down and focus on just one step at a time.
  • Do you have a support system, such as a mentor, role model, or advisory group? When you are self-employed, it may seem like the weight of the world is on your shoulders since everything about the business depends on you. Don’t carry this burden alone. Instead, seek out others to guide and support you along the way. Is there a former employer you trust to give you sound advice? Are other local entrepreneurs interested in creating an informal support group for small business owners? You will be much more motivated to act when you surround yourself with like-minded people who truly want to help and support each other.
  • Have you set your priorities? The list of goals we want to achieve or tasks we want to accomplish can become so long that we don’t know where to begin. Start by prioritizing your goals or tasks in a way that works for you and your business. Some people find that a daily to-do list is the best way to stay focused. Each day contains a list of tasks that either must be completed or canwait until the next day. Implementing such a system will prevent important tasks from being overlooked.

Don’t beat yourself up for procrastinating; it is a common problem, especially in today’s world filled with distractions and personal obligations. Do make the choice, however, to be proactive. Procrastination can prevent you from achieving your goals, so take charge of your business and be passionate in the actions you take.

How to Handle Daily Stress

How to Handle Daily Stress

Everyday stress is a normal and inevitable part of modern life. If not handled appropriately, however, it can hinder your achievement of personal and professional goals. In order to avoid this, take a look at the following list with ideas about how you can better react to daily stress and even use it to improve.

  • Be prepared by anticipating what can go wrong. Almost worse than an actual setback is the feeling of being blindsided. Prepare yourself for such obstacles by anticipating what could go wrong, and then putting into place plans to overcome those challenges. This could mean having a “rainy day fund” set up for financial security or possibly a new marketing idea you’ve been sitting on because you haven’t seemed to need it. Think of the “what-if’s” in your business and have simple backup plans to quickly recover from setbacks as painlessly as possible.
  • Take small breaks throughout your day. Stretch, breathe deeply, go outside for some fresh air, or simply think of something fun. Your brain needs a little down time, and you’ll be more productive overall by giving yourself those much-needed breaks. Furthermore, you’ll increase your “work stamina” by pacing yourself and prevent midday burnout. Find a way to spend five or ten minutes a few times each day that refreshes your body and mind in an enjoyable way.
  • Visualize a great day where you handle everything well and accomplish your goals. Use your mind’s eye to give yourself the confidence that you can stay on top of your responsibilities, handle them with grace, and best of all, complete your daily to-do list. Visualization is a very effective tool you should be using to improve yourself in any area of life. If you see yourself accomplishing something, you are more likely to make it happen.
  • Learn from close calls and past mistakes. Think back to when you first learned how to drive. Most likely, you had some close calls when you accidentally cut someone off while changing lanes or perhaps nearly rear-ended someone while not paying close enough attention to the road. Now that you have been driving for many years, you don’t make those types of mistakes anymore, and you’ve become a safer, more capable driver. The same goes for your business. What close calls and mistakes have happened in the past and how can you learn from them? Answering such questions can ease your mind and reduce stress because remembering mistakes can actually help us grow.
  • Focus on how good things are right now. An important part of handling stress is not to make it the center of your day. Focus on the good things in your life: you are your own boss, you love what you do, you’ve already accomplished a great deal, and you provide a product/service that helps others make their lives better. Remind yourself of what is positive in your life right now to more easily handle daily stress that arises.

Coping with daily stress effectively is a skill that can be practiced and improved. Recognize the significance of handling stress well and make the effort to work on it. Your attitude and overall well-being will benefit from your efforts.

How do you handle daily stress? Please share your comments below!

Tips for Reducing Financial Stress

Tips for Reducing Financial Stress

The burdens of managing one’s finances can put a tremendous amount of stress on even the most easy-going person.  Whether you make $10,000 a year or $10 million, there are some straightforward steps you can take today to ease your personal and/or professional financial stress.  All it takes is some commitment, honesty, and a little bit of time.

  1. Organize.  You should have a system in place for managing incoming bills and other paperwork related to your finances.  Some people prefer the conventional pencil and paper method, while others use software such as Quicken to track their income and expenses.  You may like to pay your bills online through your bank’s website, or you might want to write and mail checks to each payee.  The best solution is the one that you feel most comfortable using and is efficient for your needs.  Furthermore, make sure you have a set place for where you pay your bills and a regular schedule of when you do it.  For most people, twice a month is sufficient, but you have the freedom to create your own schedule.  Tip:  If you pay your bills online, consider taking advantage of the easy pay feature that your bank or payee probably offers, in which the amount is automatically deducted from the account of your choosing whenever a payment is due.  This works best for bills that are generally the same amount each time, such as a mortgage or auto insurance payment.  By having an organized system in place, you won’t have the stress of overdue or forgotten bills.
  2. Track.  In order to further reduce stress, you need to have a full picture of your financial situation.  The first step is by tracking where every penny goes so you can get an accurate picture of any overlooked expenditures.  For example, that $3 latte may not seem like much when you stop for it a few times a week to start your day, but by tracking even small purchases like that one, you may find that you’re spending the equivalent of a week’s worth of gasoline by the end of the month.  How about investing in a cappuccino maker instead? It may wind up costing you less in the long run.
  3. Set goals and plan.  Now that you know where all your money is going, set both short-term and long-term financial goals.  Perhaps you want to save up for a summer vacation; that would be a short-term goal.  Saving for your children’s college education or your own retirement, however, would be a long-term goal.  Using your current income and mandatory living expenses, plan for the life you want to live.
  4. Budget.  You’ve organized your finances, tracked your expenditures, and set your goals.  Now it’s time to create your budget.  Most people work out a monthly budget, including your income, living expenses, and a discretionary fund for spending money.  Decide what you need to do to live within your means.  Refer to your budget often and adjust it as needed.
  5. Find a part-time job. Doing something that takes a few hours per week can help you supplement your income and reduce financial stress. Consider your family’s schedule, and when you might be able to work. Would a set schedule work better for you, or is flexibility important? Do you want someone to give you a schedule, or would you rather set your own hours? Making these decisions will help you find a part-time opportunity that can help you reach your financial goals.

The key to reducing financial stress is knowledge.  It may not always be easy to take a hard look at exactly where you stand, but it is essential to meeting your personal and professional goals.

How do you reduce the stress of finances?  Please share your ideas with us below!

How to Make Real Self-Improvement

How to Make Real Self-Improvement

Many direct sellers and small business owners are committed to growing their businesses and taking steps to achieve their financial goals.  This often involves some degree of self-reflection; after all, every decision about the business falls solely on you.  By making some improvements on yourself, you will be able to reap the benefits in your business.

  1. Make a list of what you want to improve.  The act of writing your goals on down on paper (or typing them, most likely) is the first step in committing to change.  Put them in writing to help you identify what exactly you’d like to improve, and then prioritize them accordingly.  Chances are you have some things you’d like to change right away, and others that may require some more time to work on.  You are in charge of your list, so adjust it when necessary, but take the time to create it so you can get right to work.
  2. Decide why you want to improve.  Within your list of things to improve, write down why you listed it.  Doing so will help you decide its level of importance and how it will enhance your life.  For example, one of your items is to stop procrastinating.  You may decide that by tackling tasks and projects right away and well in advance of deadlines, you will be relieving unnecessary stress and anxiety as well as performing better overall because of the increased time allotted to complete these tasks.  Since these are some very important benefits of self-improvement, you may want to make this a top priority.
  3. Implement deadlines.  So you’ve made your list, prioritized the items, and identified the reasoning behind them.  Now you need to create deadlines by which to complete them.  Without deadlines, your list simply becomes another piece of paper or electronic file that gets pushed aside and forgotten about.  Giving yourself a deadline helps you envision your endgame and draw up your plan of action.  Don’t be too rigid, however, as you don’t want to set yourself up for failure.  Give yourself enough time to realistically achieve your goal, but not so much time that you forget where you are headed.
  4. Utilize your strengths to improve your weaknesses.  Everyone has a certain skill set; you know what you can do well and are confident in your abilities.  Use this to your advantage on your path to self-improvement.  For instance, one thing on your list to improve is your tendency to procrastinate.  If you are a detail-oriented person, that strength could help you stop procrastinating.  Decide that when a task or project presents itself, that you will map out an action plan complete with all the details needed to perform the job well.  Because you have now dealt with all the details, beginning work on the project right away will become much easier to do.  Knowing your strengths is just as important as identifying your weaknesses when making self-improvements.

People don’t generally like to be told what to do or how to do it.  Your commitment to self-improvement must come from within.  Find your inner motivation, do some real self-reflection, and take the steps above to improve yourself and your business.  What ideas do you have about making self-improvement?  Please share them with us in the comments section below!