Archive for November, 2013

27 nov

4 Unconventional Ways to Break Bad Habits

RobertCordrayWhen does a hobby become a habit? And when does a habit become a bad habit? And when does a bad habit become an addiction? When we try to label things like this, the lines can be difficult to decipher. However, what we do know is that whenever an activity starts to negatively affect your life, take away your agency, and impact everything that you do, it is already a bad habit. And when you have a bad habit, your first task will be to try and kick it. This can be easier said than done however, and kicking a bad habit can be one of the hardest things that a person will face. Here are some unconventional ways to break bad habits.

1. Stay Away

Some things can be seemingly harmless at first, but once they develop can become a real problem. It might seem simple, but the easiest way to stop bad habits is to prevent them. You might think that a one-off casual pill or smoke won’t do anything, but it won’t be long until it is a full-on addiction and all of a sudden you find yourself paying for drug rehab. The same goes for other bad habits; such habits are not good for you even on one occasion, so abstaining from them is always the best policy. Avoid people and situations that can tempt you, or even the environment that makes a bad habit feel comfortable to indulge in.

2. Start a Blog

One effective way to kick a habit is to talk about it publicly, or at least with someone else, as it means that you can be held accountable for your progress. That is why addiction recovery programs encourage people to meet in groups. An unconventional way to do this is to start a blog, or record in your current blog, your goals and experiences. Having to own up to any lapses will be quite effective in helping you to prevent them.

3. Replace it With a Good Habit

Although we said that any habit that takes over your life is a bad habit, there are definitely exceptions to this rule. For example, drugs can be damaging and dangerous to your mental and physical health. If you replace them with a different substance, or activity, perhaps a food, exercise, or knitting/crocheting that will not have such a detrimental effect to your mind and body, it is significantly better. Another good idea is to, every time you have a craving, instead act to help someone—volunteering or donating money to charity are two options.

4. Reward Yourself

Sometimes people with bad habits operate on an axis of self-punishment. If you are doing something that you are not proud of, it can come more naturally to experience guilt when you lapse, rather than elation when you do something right. Try to flip this in your mind by rewarding yourself for good days and not being too hard on yourself on bad days.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on November 27th, 2013 in Health, New Directions | No comments

27 nov

A Roadmap to Financial Independence

JennaSmithEveryone wants to be financially independent, but the harsh reality is that only a small fraction of the population usually achieves it. While it’s often possible for a single event to devastate your finances, chances are good that there are multiple factors contributing to your lack of financial independence. The good news is that they are within your means to correct and control.

Step 1 – Assessment

Before you can know how to get to your destination you need to know where you are. The first thing you need to do is take stock of your finances and see exactly where you stand. In order to get an accurate picture of your assets and liabilities, you should account for all of your income and debts. Most people remember their larger debts like mortgage and car payments but many forget to account for student loans, personal loans, and membership fees. Don’t forget your assets, including savings, home equity, and retirement accounts. Here is a good list of debt management calculators from Bankrate.com/calculators.

During this step you should also assess your credit. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting agencies once every 12 months. If there are inaccuracies on your credit report you need to get them corrected. I found out more about correcting credit report errors at https://www.lexingtonlaw.com/credit-education/fix-credit/.

Step 2 – Plan

Once you know where you stand the next thing you need to do is determine your desired end goal. You need to figure out how much you will need to maintain your lifestyle in retirement. There are many helpful calculators available online that can help, including one from AARP.

Now that you have your starting line and your finish line, you can begin to connect the dots between the two. Here is where you develop your monthly budget. Be realistic in your expectations and strive to live within your means. Focus on paying your necessary living expenses, putting money away for retirement, and paying down your debts first. Anything left over can be used for vacations, buying a new car, starting a business, or whatever else you might want.

You should also establish an emergency fund. Unforeseen events can have catastrophic consequences to your financial stability. An emergency fund provides you with the means to deal with those events with minimal financial consequences. You won’t have to incur additional debt. You won’t have to reduce your retirement savings. You will already have the money you need.

Now you can make adjustments and fine tune your budget. You may need to reduce spending or increase income in order to reach your goals. In either case you can identify the specific need and make the necessary adjustments to stay on track.

Step 3 – Monitor and Maintain

This is the step that never ends. None of what you have done up to this point will matter if you don’t remain vigilant and stick to your plan. Life changes, and when it does you need to change with it. Whether it’s a new job, new home, or new family member, you will need to constantly stay on top of your current situation and make adjustments to ensure that you are still on track to meet your end goal.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on November 27th, 2013 in Finances, Personal Stories | No comments

27 nov

7 Ways to Protect Your Identity

RobertCordrayThere was a time when the worst thing that a criminal could steal from you was your property. They might get a hold of your wallet, or maybe make off with your car, or even break into your home and ransack the place, but at the end of the day, you’d be able to take inventory of your losses and move on with your life.

However, in the last few decades a different type of theft has really begun to manifest itself. Where once criminals were content to steal possessions, they now set their sights much higher; criminals of today steal entire identities. Identity theft has become such a problem that a recent report issued by Javelin Research estimates that nearly 6% of all adults in the United States are affected by it every year in some way and things are only getting worse. Thankfully, there are ways to protect yourself against those groups and individuals who would misuse use your personal information. Here are seven ways to secure your data against identity theft.

1. Be smart with your mail

Although much of the world now runs on the internet, the U.S. Postal Service is still widely utilized. Unfortunately, it can also be easily compromised—especially when dealing with your home mailbox. Be sure to empty your mailbox every day, preferably soon after it is delivered so that passing criminals can’t steal personal information (such as are contained in credit and bank statements). When mailing sensitive data or checks, do so from the local post office.

2. Never give out information to anyone who contacts you

One way that criminals steal identities is by contacting prospective victims and claiming to be a legitimate business/organization. For instance, they may claim to be your bank, and request that you give them your social security number so that that can “verify your identity.” Never give out any information to any person who contacts you. Instead, if you believe that the issue is legitimate, contact the organization yourself and verify that they were the ones who called you (and if they were, let them know how irresponsible it is to for them to do so; most legitimate groups would never call a person and request sensitive information). Be especially wary of emails and always hone your online threat intelligence; many cybercriminals have designed messages that mimic the look and feel of legitimate communications, even going so far as to redirect to official looking (but fake) websites.

3. Keep your info off of social networks

Many people seem to think that just because their Facebook page (or Twitter, or whichever popular social media site they prefer) is populated by ‘friends,’ it’s okay to share sensitive information. But how well do you really know the people who have access to your page? Besides, more people can view your social media info than you probably are aware of. Play it safe, and keep any specific information about yourself (date of birth, mother’s maiden name, information relating to family members, etc.) off of your page. Additionally, be sure to set any privacy setting to the highest possible level of security. Just remember: if you don’t want the world to see it, don’t post it.

4. Keep an eye on your credit

Credit card information is one of the easiest—and most profitable—targets for identity criminals. And while some card thieves may set off red flags with the bank by making multiple large purchases in a short amount of time, the more clever one are careful to remain under the radar by slowly racking up charges over the space of several months. Be sure that you always check your credit card statements regularly, and are able to account for each and every charge made. Also, make note of any statements that don’t arrive on time, as stolen statements can provide criminals with valuable account numbers.

5. Be stingy with your data

Many businesses today like to gather as much personal information about their customers as possible. They use this information for special offers, buyer’s clubs, and directed advertising, which is generally harmless in and of itself. However, should any of that information be stolen from the company (as sometimes happens), it is often the customers who face the negative consequences. When possible, refuse to give out specific personal information to salespeople or businesses. If you absolutely must provide your data, be sure to review the privacy policy. Inform the business that you don’t want your information given out (or sold) to anyone else.

6. Keep your computer protection up to date

You might be shocked to learn just how much personal information can be extracted from a personal computer. Be sure to keep you virus software active and up-to-date, and exercise caution when surfing the web. When dealing with online sites, be sure that they have been verified as safe to visit. Many organizations will also use tools such as packet capture data to ensure the safety of their customers and visitors.

7. Only use strong and unique passwords

It may be annoying to have to remember several different passwords, but that doesn’t mean that you should put all of your eggs into one basket. Make sure that you have unique passwords for every account so that if one gets hacked, you’ll be able to limit the amount of damage done. Also, never use simple-to-guess passwords. Instead, make your passwords an unintelligible mix of letters, numbers, and any other acceptable symbols. For the password hint questions that some companies require you to supply, don’t choose anything that can be easily guessed or publicaly researched. You might even consider misspelling your hint answer, so that even if a hacker guesses it correctly, he won’t be able to access your accounts.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on November 27th, 2013 in Technology | No comments

19 nov

Working from Home and Saving Money

JennaSmithWhen you make the big switch to freelancing or working from home, you gain a lot. You are able to work at your own comfort and speed, without the worry of a supervisor coming to check on you. You are able to wear pajamas if you want, and work from your bed or your couch.

On the other hand, you often have to adjust to living on a reduced income. A freelancing career takes a while to ramp up, and even if you are earning as much as you made at your old job, you’re often paying more in taxes. Since self-employed people are required to pay both the individual and the employer’s portion of Social Security and other taxes, even if you’re making the same amount of money each month, less of that money goes into your pocket. Still more of your income has to go towards funding the business itself — the web hosting, for example, that helps clients find your work.

All of this means that you have to learn how to live on less. Don’t worry — we’re not suggesting you give up your new freelance career and go back to your old job! Instead, here are the steps you need to take in the next 30 days to get your finances on track.

Start eating at home

If your old job meant grabbing a Chipotle burrito or Corner Bakery sandwich every day for lunch, it’s time to swap out that habit for a more economical one. Eating out every day costs far more than eating at home, even for “meal deals” like McDonald’s Dollar Menu. As Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar proves, it is cheaper to buy ground beef and make your own hamburgers than it is to buy the same amount of hamburgers even at $1 each!

That means you have to start planning and shopping. Buying pre-packaged sandwiches from the grocery store isn’t saving money. Slicing your own cheese for sandwiches is. Look for meals you can make while you work, such as slow cooker stews or hearty casseroles. The more money you save on food, the more money you’ll have to support your new business.

Cut back on your overhead

If it’s a monthly payment and you don’t need it, it’s time to let it go. That means no more magazine subscriptions, and no more gym memberships. (Yes, staying healthy is important, so find activities you can do for free, such as running, or joining a Meetup.com sports league.)

There’s one place where you probably shouldn’t cut back: your entertainment/internet/cable package. You definitely need internet for work, and you don’t want to skimp on your download and upload speed. Instead of cutting back on cable and internet, look for deals on a combination package. As the bloggers at MoneyNing note, a good Verizon FiOS double play promotion code can get you significant cost savings as well as a bonus $300 Visa gift card. That’s money in the bank!

Figure out how much money you need to earn every day

When you’re a freelancer, it’s easy to get into a procrastination habit. With no fears of a boss coming after you, sometimes that little break stretches into a lost afternoon. Solve this problem by figuring out how much money you need to earn to make your monthly financial goals. Then, every day, make sure you do at least as much work as would earn a day’s amount of money. If you have a project that is supposed to earn you a week’s worth of income, for example, make sure you complete at least 20% of that project every day, Monday through Friday.

If you implement these three steps over the next 30 days, you’ll be well on your way to a successful “work at home” career. Then you can devote your time to growing your new business.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on November 19th, 2013 in Career, Finances, House and Home, Personal Stories | No comments

19 nov

5 Ways to Protect Your Home from Bad Santas This Holiday Season

RobertCordrayThe Holidays are a time during which people around the world welcome the idea of having an overweight stranger crawl out of their fireplace and poke around their livingrooms. However, Santa Claus isn’t the only person who wants to get into your home this December. As families get ready to celebrate peace on earth and goodwill towards men, Grinches start coming up with their own Christmas wish lists. The holiday months are a time in which burglaries across the nation skyrocket. It’s not too hard to understand why: After all, people are making expensive purchases, leaving them in a predetermined spot, and then going on vacation to visit family and leaving the house empty behind them. But don’t worry; there are a number of precautions you can take to help keep the bad-santas of the world out of your home, and you won’t even have to booby-trap the chimney. Here’s how:

1. Keep Santa’s helpers outside

These days, it’s not uncommon during the holidays to have a steady stream of delivery trucks pulling up to the house to drop off packages. However, not all delivery people are as trustworthy—or even as legitimate—as they’d have you believe. If you invite one of them into your home, you’re giving them an opportunity to easily case your property for later invasion, or perhaps simply rob it right there. Never let a stranger into your home, no matter how friendly they look or how cold the weather may be. If you need to sign for something, do it outside, and don’t be afraid to contact the delivery company to make sure that a delivery is scheduled for your house.

2. Keep it quiet

If you’ve made any large purchases for the holidays, try to keep quiet about them. Unload expensive items in your garage instead of out front, and don’t leave packaging materials outside where any passer-by could happen upon them. The world doesn’t need to know about your upcoming vacation, so keep any mention of it off of your social media sites, and don’t talk about it in public where prying ears can eavesdrop. Some criminals actually pay people like hairdressers, bank tellers, and cab drivers to inform them when they hear that someone is planning on leaving town.

3. Keep up appearances

If you are planning on leaving home for the holidays, do what you can to make it look as though the house is still occupied. Don’t simply leave lights on inside—a lamp shining for 24 hours straight is actually a great way to inform criminals that you aren’t home. Instead, buy a timer and set it to turn on lights or the television at believable times throughout the day. Also, speak with a trusted neighbor, and have them collect your mail/newspapers for you while you’re gone. Alternately, you could contact your post office and news carrier and have them suspend service until you get back.

4. Close the curtains

It’s natural during the Christmas season to want to throw upon the blinds and let your home’s light shine out like a beacon. Well, get it under control, because if you can see outside, then prowlers can see inside. Open curtains allow criminals to get a good idea of what valuables may be inside the home and whether they should risk breaking in. So, keep those curtains closed.

5. Invest in an automated home security system

Digital home security systems might be the number-one way to protect your home from invasion during the holidays (or at any time of the year). With security cameras, motion detectors, glass-break sensors, etc., any criminal who gets to the house is going to have more to worry about than finding out where you stash your egg-nog. Of course, that’s assuming that they attempt a break-in anyway; just having a home security warning sign in your yard is usually enough to convince them to do their holiday “shopping” elsewhere.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on November 19th, 2013 in House and Home, Technology | No comments

12 nov

It’s Real: Being Almost Depressed

Jope2“You’re clinically depressed.”

Those three words were music to my ears just a few years ago. Sounds crazy, but I was relieved because I finally had answers.

From age 15 up until a few years ago, I dealt with periods of extreme sadness. When I was “happy,” I was never quite at peace. I read about depression but never felt I completely fit the description. I wasn’t having thoughts of suicide and I still got out of bed and functioned every day. I told myself it was time to accept who I was: Sullen.

Almost Depressed
When I finally received an official diagnosis, it was like being handed all the answers to a test. Everything I had been silently struggling with now had an explanation and it all started with being “almost depressed.”

According to a recent article on CNN.com, Harvard Medical School has been studying the “almost depressed” phenomenon and determined approximately 75 percent of low-grade depression (almost depression) turns into full-blown depression if not treated. If I only knew this back then.

In the article, Shelley Carson, an associate of the Department of Psychology at Harvard University and author of a book about almost depression, says almost depressed people sometimes report feeling worse than those who are clinically depressed.

While that finding seems a bit bold, it actually makes complete sense. Finding out I was clinically depressed certainly wasn’t uplifting news, but it finally gave me answers. Answers I didn’t have when I was almost depressed, which only made me feel worse. With a real diagnosis came clear cut treatment options like medication, specialized counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy methods.

Carson points out almost depressed people suffer from depression that isn’t “severe enough to warrant clinical treatment.” As a former almost depressed person, I simply assumed I was bored or in a rut. Instead, I was coping with something that didn’t have an explanation at the time. I felt worse for not understanding what was wrong.

Anyone who has dealt with clinical depression understands its severity and how scary it can be. Its predecessor, almost depression, should no longer be overlooked. Not understanding what you’re feeling or brushing your negative emotions aside won’t make the depression go away, no matter how mild you may think it is.

If you suspect you’re almost depressed, plenty of things can help. Practicing mindfulness, eating well, exercising and engaging in activities you enjoy are a few ways to fight the depression.

My biggest tip? Seek counseling. Being almost depressed doesn’t exclude you from speaking to a professional. It’s possible you may only need a few sessions to get yourself back on track. A professional diagnosis can be the difference between being in the dark and getting on the path toward treatment.

Jennifer Jope is the author of www.thebrainpain.wordpress.com, where she documents her own struggles with depression, including what she learned in a behavioral health program. Her health writing has appeared in Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing Newsletter and Body1.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jen Jope on November 12th, 2013 in Health, Personal Stories | No comments Read related posts in

05 nov

7 Signs You Suffer from Impostor Syndrome

Kerrigan2“You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie?’ And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?” —Meryl Streep

“I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’” —Maya Angelou

“I still doubt myself every single day. What people believe is my self-confidence is actually my reaction to fear.”—Will Smith

If you’ve ever felt like this, then welcome to the club — the Impostor Syndrome Club. Obviously, you’re in good company.

The impostor syndrome is known to afflict not only the rich and famous but many successful executives as well. Primarily career-based and achievement-driven, it is a phenomenon where people are unable to own their accomplishments or value, despite evidence to the contrary.

The sufferer has a nagging fear of being found out as a fake and a phony, as if they’ve fooled everyone into believing that they are competent. Any and all success feels completely undeserved and dismissed as luck, timing, or something other than talent, intelligence, hard work, and perseverance. Many professionals have a respect that they feel is not earned, and a title that they feel they don’t live up to.

Some experts say it’s cultural; some say it’s psychological. This expert (and sufferer) says, “Who cares?” It’s painful and chronic. It’s the most awful, sinking feeling that is the height — and depth — of insecurity.

Although everyone feels doubt and anxiety at times, this syndrome causes a constant cycle of shame and embarrassment, and manifests in self-defeating thoughts that amount to one thing: “I am not worthy.”

And yes, the biggest deceiver in all of this really is us: Not in how we believe we lie to others, but in how we lie to ourselves. You see, impostors tend to mistake feelings for facts. But, feelings, unlike facts, lie—and they lie often.

Understanding this an important step in letting go. By recognizing the lies we tell ourselves and challenging them, we gain perspective, clarity, and confidence.

So–How do we lie to ourselves?

1. You tend to focus on the one thing that’s wrong rather than what’s right.

When I was hired to lead operations for a technology startup, I was brought onboard for my leadership and operations skills: my ability to structure and unify a team, point them in the right direction, and execute strategy. Yet, my focus was my abysmal lack of technology skill. I was beating myself up constantly over this one point. The fact that I had a long, successful career was lost on me. I was too busy feeling defective.

We are drawn to and focus on the negative instead of the positive. Anxiety and fear just seem to feel more natural to us, and often, become habit. Whatever we focus on only intensifies, so try focusing on the good.

2. You think it’s too easy — that anyone could do it.

I have a friend who is terrific at technology. He can write code, design websites, repair computers, and do a million other techie things. I think he’s amazing. He thinks a monkey could do it. When you know what you’re doing, it seems effortless. And it is — to you. What you may think is nothing is really something to someone else.

We don’t understand that certain things come more naturally for us, and not for others, and so we devalue our gifts. Never assume that your own unique talents are easily duplicated.

3. You think it has to be difficult to be worthwhile.

Some of us are taught this at an early age by struggling for love and attention from one or both of our parents. They withhold love until we prove ourselves worthy. Since their love and approval means everything to us, we think that we have to fight for everything worthwhile in life. In fact, sometimes, we over complicate things just to compensate for anything that should be easy. It’s exhausting, and time to stop.

Forgive your parents. They were doing their best and relying on what they were taught. Because the lies we tell ourselves are often inherited, forgive yourself, too.

4. You believe that what you’re doing is never enough.

In trying to satisfy that inner need for recognition, we set unrealistic expectations. We also compare ourselves to others and think that we have to struggle to measure up. This paradigm means that we can only feel worthy when we are achieving, as that’s what it takes to get positive attention.

In the Harvard Business Review article, “How to Keep A-Players Productive,” Steven Berglas discusses the “extraordinarily punishing superegos” of over achievers such as Winston Churchill, who “voluntarily push themselves to extremes.” Churchill was enormously self-critical, reviewing everything in his head that he failed at, a ritual he learned at a young age from his abusive father.

Often, our self-critical, punishing voice is not our own, but one we’ve heard, loved and trusted more than our own selves.

We forget that no one is all achieving, in all possible ways, all the time.

5. You need the secondary gains, because you get something out of staying this way.

Often, we stay in the impostor state for a reason — even if we’re unaware of it. Sometimes, it pushes us to do our best work. In fact, I would hazard to guess that it’s the motivation that drives Maya Angelou each time she sits down to write a book. We become our own competition, always playing against ourselves.

I tended to prepare myself for failure, so it wouldn’t hurt as much if it actually happened. After the traumatic experience of getting laid off from a job I had and loved for years, I would protect myself with this psychological safety net.

6. You’re not in the moment because you’re too busy feeling and not doing.

When we allow our thoughts to wander, we can often over-think, over-analyze and feel lost. It is then that we see only the emotional and not the practical, and our overly-conscious selves can throw us off — and possibly out — of our game. We’re so focused on the fear that we lose the moment, and that’s where we really need to be.

Sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman helped baseball legends address fear by being and doing more in the present and talking and thinking less about the past or future. His mantra was “see the ball, hit the ball.”

If we allow ourselves to be too self-conscious, we’re too busy feeling instead of doing. We get ahead of ourselves with too much anticipatory anxiety and miss the moment. For impostor syndrome, doing is the best antidote. When we’re in the doing, we have no time to criticize ourselves.

7. You don’t have perspective, and need to take a step back.

Perspective matters. It’s like a Monet painting—up close, it seems like a bunch of wild brush strokes that don’t seem to make sense, but from a distance, their true beauty and value are revealed to us. So it can be with our own lives and careers.

We often de-value the positive impact we have on others. If it was someone else’s life, we could see it objectively. It took me a long time to see the value I brought to many companies and clients. I finally realized that if I saw someone else who had my career, I would think, “Wow, that’s terrific!” And now, I do.

Here’s the thing about impostor syndrome: We have a limited amount of time on this earth, and it’s our choice what we do with it. So, why rob yourself of happiness and fulfillment?

Whatever we focus on the most will intensify, so focus on the good. It’s what we tell ourselves that really matters, so stop lying to yourself. Challenge and change those thoughts, so you can change your life. It is a wonderful life, after all.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

For over three decades, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping businesses and private clients excel in the workplace and grow in the marketplace. She is an expert in developing the practical skills and confidence critical to high performance and productivity. With extensive leadership experience and practical mastery in operational excellence, Michelle is a powerful resource for navigating change, conquering fear and doubt, and solving day-to-day challenges, resulting in more effective leadership and teamwork, higher efficiency and revenue growth. In addition, Michelle writes and speaks about the roles confidence and self esteem play in achieving success, and produces a series for public TV, Workplace Confidence. More at: www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on November 5th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, New Directions, Personal Stories | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

05 nov

5 Tips for Getting Your Finances Back on Track

RobertCordrayFinances are scary, and it often doesn’t take much to find yourself in debt, spending more than you make or simply not using your money in the best way possible. Many families right now are in financial trouble due to the recent recession, and may find themselves struggling to pay off debt or make ends meet. Luckily, there are steps you can take to dig yourself out of a your financial rut, no matter how deep it may be.

1. Calculate Your Debt

Start by determining exactly where your finances lie. Stop ignoring those credit card bills or student loans, and come up with a grand total of what you owe. It can be disheartening to see a big number after doing this, but it is also the only way for you to start setting goals to pay that debt off. Set a goal for how much you would like to reduce your debt each year and then divide it up by month. Congratulate yourself for each monthly and yearly goal you make, and as you watch that number go down, you will be so pleased that you decided to take the reigns.

2. Build Emergency Savings

Most everyone has savings accounts, but they are often used as holding stations until the money is transferred into checking or used for bills. It is perfectly fine to do this, but you must also have a savings account that is for emergencies only, and no, that new pair of shoes does not count as an emergency. Make a goal to keep 10 percent of what you earn in an emergency account, and if you need to, make it incredibly difficult to get that money back out.

3. Budget

A significant portion of the population does not have any sort of budget. We often think of a budget as restrictive or difficult, but really it is a tool to keep your money under your power. Start using a free budgeting software such as mint.com or other options for keeping track of expenses. If you want to limit how much you spend on groceries, how are you supposed to do that if you don’t set a limit or monitor what you spend? Creating a budget may also require cutting some expenses. You can do this by eating out less, using student discount software on your computer or any number of things that can save you money.

4. Adjust Expectations

It can be hard to be stuck in a rental with used furniture and no TV if you grew up in a nice home with plenty of luxuries. However, you have to realize that in all likelihood, your parents didn’t start out with all of those things; they had to work many years to get them. Adjust your expectations of what you think you should be able to get out of a paycheck and what you expect from yourself. Really, it is ok you haven’t bought a house yet. Those things come with time.

5. Get Support

Finally, get some help with your goal. If you are married, get your spouse on board with a plan, and be sure to involve any children old enough to understand what is going on. Banks will often offer financial guidance, as will churches—you could even confide in a close friend who is financially savvy.


If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.


Posted by Robert Cordray on November 5th, 2013 in Finances | No comments