There’s always a lot of focus on ways to save money, stretch your budget, etc. But what about things you’re spending money on that you could allocate more effectively elsewhere? Not surprisingly, there’s some commonalities for most people’s biggest money wasters. How many of these are part of your current spending habits?
According to a calculation on Credit.com, making oatmeal for breakfast at home 3 days a week for a year costs about $25. Buying that same amount of oatmeal from McDonald’s will set you back over $300! Or if you prefer Starbucks, you’re looking at a whopping $539! And that’s just breakfast. Think about the savings with pricier meals like lunch and dinner. You don’t have to be an amazing chef to make a sandwich, salad, or put something in a crockpot. Your wallet will thank you!
Credit cards and other loans typically charge a late fee on top of any annually accruing interest. For credit cards, late fees are capped at $27 for the first late payment and $38 for any late payment in the next six billing cycles. If you’re late even twice, that can add up quickly. Thankfully, you can easily avoid late fees by organizing your budget and paying on time.
Buying Stuff on Sale
Sure, if you NEED it, buying on sale is ideal. But if you buy something on a whim simply because there’s a sale, that’s not helpful. Before making any impulse purchases ask yourself if you really need it and if it will make you happy. If the answer is no, keep your money in your wallet for something else.
Simply changing these three spending habits can add up to hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in savings over the course of a year. While you still want to have a solid savings plan and budget, that extra money will make saving for a new car or that big vacation a lot easier.
Life gets crazy. Between work, kids, etc. it can feel almost impossible to reach the small goals you have for your own success and happiness, never mind shooting for some big goals. Don’t get discouraged! Some small changes in your morning routine hold the key to creating the life you want. And by morning, I mean before 8am. Why? Because starting your day off focusing on reaching your goals basically guarantees you can’t fail.
Get Enough Sleep
Everyone needs slightly different amounts of sleep, but generally 7-9 hours is ideal for most adults. Less than that and you’ll feel sleepy. Sure, you can become best friends with coffee, but long-term the rest of your health will start to crumble. Getting enough sleep has incredible health benefits including lower stress, increased creativity, and increased focus – all things you need to great the amazing life you want.
Whatever your beliefs are, starting the day off in communion with some higher power (use any name you like) helps focus on gratitude and abundance. Remember the book “The Secret”? We’re magnets. Whatever we’re putting out in the world is what will come back to us, so it makes sense to start off the day focusing on abundance and gratitude.
Regular exercise has been shown to generate inspiration and clarity. It also reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. If you’re body isn’t ready to tackle the gym in the wee hours of the morning, set an intention and schedule into your day. Your body, and your dreams, will thank you.
Get Enough Protein
It doesn’t matter if it’s meat or plant based protein. What matters is getting 30 grams of it before 8am. Protein rich foods keep you fuller longer so you won’t be searching for a fat or sugar loaded snack by 10am. Protein also keeps blood sugar levels more even, preventing spikes in hunger and energy level.
Take a Cold Shower
This definitely isn’t for everyone, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. Cold water, meaning 57°F, when experienced on a regular basis facilitates physical and emotional health. It stimulates your immune and cardiovascular system as well as reduces depression. Give yourself 20 seconds in a cold shower. If you’re still hating it, flip back to your hot shower.
Experience Something Uplifting
Read, listen to a podcast, or watch an uplifting vlog. The most successful people are constantly learning and seeking new inspiration. Take 15 or 20 minutes in the morning to experience something uplifting. It will put you in the zone to do your best and you never know what new insights and ideas will come up!
Review Your Vision
Your goals should be written down and/or displayed on a vision board. Take a few moments every morning to review your goals. This sets your mind up to work on them all day long (even if it’s subconsciously while you’re doing other things.)
Do One Thing Towards Your Long-Term Goals
Remember in school when the teachers told you to do the hardest homework first so once it was done the rest of the work would be easier? The same thing holds true for decision making. As you get tired over the course of the day, your ability (and desire) to make decisions starts to decrease. Instead, do one thing towards your goals early in the morning. Once that tough decision is out of the way, the rest of your day will be easier.
These seem like small, insignificant changes, but they’re actually life changing. Try it for a month and see what happen!
If you’re like most people, you spend some time once a month or so getting your house, and your life, in order. But slowly that organization seeps away and the clutter keeps back in. If you’re ready to break out of this pattern and stay organized for good, check out these seven steps.
Tackling your whole house at once can be overwhelming, so you’ll probably stop before you even get started. Instead, pick one thing – a junk drawer or a closet – and do that, instead of diving head first into the garage or basement. With small goals, you’ll have a sense of accomplishment that will motivate you to keep going and take on the bigger areas.
Knowing you don’t have to spend the whole day on it is also helpful in getting motivated to start. Set a timer for 15 minutes. When time’s up you can either stop for the day or, if you’re excited about the progress you’re making, reset it and keep going.
Use plastic bins to make tidy piles. One for keep, one for donate, and one for throw away. Using the bins keeps your piles organized so you know exactly what’s going on and prevents the new piles you’re making from becoming part of the clutter you’re working to clear.
Plastic storage bins are great for keeping items long-term, too. Just be sure you put labels on them so you can easily find what’s in them the next time you’re looking for something.
Avoid Off Site Storage
While it can feel tempting to rent a storage space and shove everything in there, it can lead to problems. Storage units are intended for short-term use and the “out of site out of mind” mentality can add up to a lot of money for space to hold stuff you may no longer even need.
Create a System
And more importantly, stick to it and train everyone else in your house (including the baby sitter and dog walker) to follow it. Simple things like hanging up your coat right away or immediately throwing away junk mail quickly add up to a much more organized space.
Hire a Professional
When it comes to tackling those larger spaces like the garage or basement, working with a professional organizer (like me) can help alleviate the stress and feelings of overwhelm. Depending on the size of the space, it could take 10 – 15 hours of work – and it can be emotional. Working with a professional organizer makes it much easier.
Freelancers and solopreneurs paid hourly are responsible not only for delivering great products and services, they’re also on the hook for tracking their own time. There’s no manager double checking and no payroll department calculating their paychecks. Finding an easy, efficient way to track time is critical to being productive and billing correctly. Thankfully, there are apps that make this process much easier.
Productivity Challenge Timer
If you love breaks and thrive on the Pomodoro system of time management, the Productivity Challenge Timer is for you! It breaks your work sessions into smaller chunks of time and reminds you to take a 5-minute break every 20-minutes. It also cues you when the break is over and tracks total time on each project.
Currently only for Mac users, Hours offers a simple, visual timeline that clearly shows any dead spots in your schedule and allows you to create reminders and set rules about rounding partial time. It’s also easy to switch between projects and view total time spent for each one.
This one’s just for Android users at the moment. Timesheet does more than track your time on different projects. You can also break the time into daily, weekly, and monthly totals for each project or client. Even better, you can assign rates to each client or project so you can quickly and easily see how much money you’ve made.
If you’ve got contractors working for you, you may need to get an accurate picture of their time, too. With the right apps, tracking their time and paying them appropriately – even if they’re off site, is easy.
If you’re already using Quickbooks for your accounting system, their add-ons like TSheets and BillQuick integrate seamlessly. Employees and contractors can login from anywhere to enter their time and submit timesheets. And if you’re not sure their hours are accurate, you can use the GPS feature to locate them in a snap.
Get handle on your time management, and that of your contractors’, with some simple apps. You’ll be glad you did! And don’t forget, for more great tips like these, sign up for the newsletter!
How often do you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? If you’re like most busy professionals, probably more often than you’d like to admit. Lucky for you, there are some things you can do to get more done in less time and have more time to spend with those you love.
Track Your Time
For one week, write down everything you do. This includes scrolling through your social media feeds and bathroom breaks. It may seem a bit tedious, but by the end of the week you’ll have a good idea of where your time is being spent and changes you can make to maximize your productivity.
Get More Sleep
So often busy people stay up later and wake up earlier trying to “fit it all in.” The problem with this solution is that a tired brain is less efficient and that hurts your productivity. Instead, commit to getting a good night sleep. If you need 8 hours, get 8 hours. Your productivity will thank you.
This may seem like just another fad, but it’s not. Keeping a bullet journal is fast, but also helps you set goals and track your habits all at the same time. Similar to tracking your time, it shows you places you can improve and it also keeps you on track moving towards your goals.
Meditation isn’t just for people seeking enlightenment. It helps calm your mind and focus your attention – exactly what’s need to maximize productivity. You can spend less than 5-minutes a day meditating and reap amazing benefits. If you’ve never tried it before, here’s a place to start your meditation habit.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
Your time is a valuable resource and it’s up to you to protect it. When you’re asked to do something, ask yourself if it’s the best use of your time. If it’s not, say no. This may be hard at first, especially if you’re saying no to your boss or an authority figure, but if you do it professionally and explain you’re managing your time, it will usually be respected.
How you manage your time and run your day is a choice. It may not feel that way at times, but it is always a choice. Instead of starting off each day looking at your schedule trying to figure out how you’re going to fit it all in, take a few moments to prioritize and focus on those items that are most important.
Take Time for You
Extra time is great, but if you’re not using it to care for yourself, it’s not helping you have a more peaceful life. Commit to taking at least 30-minutes for yourself every day. Read a book. Have a cup of coffee and do a crossword puzzle. Anything you like! For 30-minutes. Your frame of mind and your productivity will thank you!
With these seven tips, you can maximize your productivity this year and get more done than you ever imagined. Want more great tips like this? Sign up for the newsletter!
Do you make a good salary, but still feel like you struggle to find money to pay the bills every month? Or maybe you run out and spend your paycheck the minute it hits your bank account – forgetting that you’ve already got bills and credit cards to pay. Oops! Money management sounds scary and many people are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. The good news is that with just a few simple skills, you can change the way you think about money and discover you have enough for everything you need, including saving.
Build an Emergency Fund
Let’s face it, emergencies happen. Instead of relying on credit cards or other debt in a crisis situation, build an emergency fund. Depending on your situation and lifestyle, it’s suggested you keep three to six months’ worth of expenses set aside. If you’re single or the sole provider for a family, six months is better. If you’re a two-income family, at least three months is recommended. More is always better, but these are good targets to get you started.
What do you want to do with your money? Buy a house? Go on a fabulous vacation? Retire? Keeping these goals in mind will impact how you allocate your fund each month and also help you talk with a financial planner about the best options for you.
Assess Where You’re At
How are you doing with those goals? What can you do to manage your money differently to help you get, and stay, on track with them? Consider working with a Certified Financial Planner or other money management professional to help you get organized and come up with an investment plan.
You need to know where your money is going every month. Keep track of what you’re spending. Look at what you can change to reduce expenses. After you’ve made some cuts, remember to pay yourself first. Determine how much you can and need to save each month and make that the first “bill” you pay each month.
Your savings account is a key component of money management, but it’s not going to be enough to help you retire. You’ll need to invest to get the return you need. Don’t let this stress out you! There are amazing financial planners out there. Ask for recommendations and take the time to speak with a few before deciding on one. They’re going to be in charge of handling your money. You need to be sure you trust them and they understand your goals and values.
With these simple steps, you’ll have a much better handle on your money – and it won’t take long!
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Maybe you already know this, but it turns out, many of those “time saving” innovations, like email and smart phones, are actually creating a culture where everything feels like a priority all the time. In today’s society, it can be easy lose control over your time, feel completely stressed out and miserable as a result, and feel powerless to do anything about it. Here’s the good news – YOU can take back control of your time. Here’s how.
Remember Your Time is Valuable
You’d never squander your hard-earned cash on something that wasn’t important. Treat your time the same way. If it’s not aligned with your goals, joys, etc. don’t spend your time on it. And while we’re on the topic of money and time, consider spending money to save time. If you’re spending far too much time on chores or errands, pay someone to do them for you.
Seize the Day
Literally. Get up and out of bed earlier. Even night owls can benefit from an extra half hour or hour in the morning. The earlier you get up and moving, the more you’ll get done before work starts and the less stressed you’ll feel.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
This goes back to your time being valuable. If someone wants your help or asks you to do something, it is okay to say no. Taking on something for someone else gives them control over your time. If you have time and you want to do it, fine, but if not, just say no. And don’t feel guilty.
Breaks make you more productive. For some people, the Pomodoro technique works well. Basically, you work on a task for 25 minutes and take a 3 - 5 minute break. You continue this cycle until either the task is done or you’ve done as much as you can stand.
It’s so easy to get distracted by smartphone pings or email and social media dings. Give yourself a break from all that noise and truly spend time in the moment with the ones you love, doing something you love. It helps your relationships and your state of mind.
Being Busy is Not the Same as Being Productive
Look at everything that feels like it must be done right now. How many of them are actually priorities? Often those errands, tasks, and events can wait. Slow down and focus on what really matters and clear the clutter of busy work.
By taking control of your time, you’ll discover you’re able to accomplish everything want, spend time with people you love, doing things you want to do, and have less stress. Start today!
Why January and not some other month of the year? Well, first, it’s the start of the year, so getting organized in January sets you up to create new organization habits and nurture them throughout the year. Also, the National Association of Productivity & Organization Professionals (NAPO) has declared January National Get Organized Month. As proud member of this organization, I’m pleased to provide you with my best blogs about organizing your time, digital space, and physical space to help you start this year off right.
Today’s society is fast paces and high stress. It often feels like there’s too much to do, too little time to do it in, and that whatever needs doing will never get done. The truth is, with proper time management strategies you can be more productive, less stressed, and have time to do all the things that really matter.
If you’re like most of us, you spend countless hours in front of digital devices. Your computer, laptop, smartphone, etc. have almost become an extension of your living and working spaces. When they’re disorganized, it adds to your stress, even if you don’t realize it. Fortunately, wrangling it back into submission just take a little time (see above to get a hold on that).
You’ve probably experienced this. You walk into your home or a specific room and feel stressed. Maybe you’re not sure why at first, but as you look around you realize it’s just a mess. There’s a pile of dishes in the sink and clutter piling up on tables. The closets are exploding and you can’t find your favorite shirt. Ugh! Now is the time to take your space back and enjoy living and working in it again.
With some small changes, you can make 2018 your most productive year yet! It’s all about getting organized and January is the perfect time to do it!
At True Assisting, we’re all about getting organized, staying organized, and optimizing time. If those sound like things you want in your life in the coming year, these organization apps are a great place to start. Some of them, we use regularly ourselves!
Long gone are the days of pen and paper planners and endless time spent trying to coordinate schedules. With Google calendar, you can take your calendar with you anywhere and share parts, or all, of it with family, friends, coworkers to make planning and scheduling a snap!
With a camera on every smart phone, it’s easy to snap photos of anything, anytime, anywhere. The problem comes in organizing and storing them for easy viewing later. Google photos makes it easy by automatically identifying people in the photos. You can also easily create albums and put the appropriate photos in them. Best of all, you can set it up to automatically pull photos from your phone to the cloud, so you’ll never run out of phone storage again!
When I was a kid, my parents saved all my classwork. The really good stuff was hung on the fridge for a while and then it all went into boxes for posterity. They loved showing it off to their friends, neighbors, relatives, etc. As you can imagine, we had a lot of boxes of prized artwork and good grades. Thanks to Keepy, you can avoid that same fate and still preserve and share your kids’ most excellent work.
Saving receipts can save you a bundle at tax time, but they’re sure a pain to store and organize – or at least they used to be! With Shoeboxed, you can easily save and organize all your receipts digitally and get rid of that giant file. Your accountant will thank you!
Every homeowner has a pile of important documents. Asset lists, major home repair details and warranties, etc. – it all amounts to a bunch of documents that you have to figure out a place to keep and easily access should the need arise. Instead of burying them in the bowels of a filing cabinet, try Homezada to store it all digitally.
Ditch the notepad and pen. While they’re great for jotting down thoughts and inspiration, they also take up space and can be difficult to carry in some situations. For a truly portable notetaking solution, check out Evernote. You can even save website articles you stumble on and want to read later. And the best part? You can share any of it with anyone you need!
Available on both iOS and Android, Dinner Spinner puts the fun back into meal planning. Mix, match, and choose ingredients right on your phone and then just tap to save the recipe and make a grocery list. As you use it, Dinner Spinner learns what you like and will suggest new recipes for you.
Take your organization and efficiency to a new level in 2018! With these apps, it’s easier than you think! For more great tips, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter.
No one likes being in debt, but it can be tough to figure out how much to pay and how quickly in order to maximize your paycheck and get out of debt. When you apply for a loan at a bank, they look at your debt-to-income ratio with the expectation that your monthly debt payments are less than 36% of your gross income. Ideally, you want that figure to be 10%, but even 20% is quite good. With that in mind, here’s what makes sense for the different types of debt you may incur.
Including taxes and insurance, your mortgage payments should not be more than 28% of your income. So if you make $4,000/month ($48,000/yr) your total monthly mortgage payments should not exceed $1,440.
Credit Card Debit
Unless you pay them off every month, credit card debt has a way of snowballing and sticking around forever. It’s best to pay them off as soon as you can. The interest rates are always ridiculously high and the money you’re throwing at it could be better spent elsewhere. In addition, 1/3 of your credit score is based on what’s called the “credit utilization rate” – meaning how much you’ve used of the credit that’s been extended to you. Basically, that’s the total of all the limits on your credit cards divided by the total amount you owe. To break that down, if your total credit limit is $10,000 and you owe $5,000, your credit utilization rate is 50%. Generally, anything higher than 30% could negatively affect your credit score.
Technically, this isn’t debt, but you should treat it like it is. The best way to save money and protect your long-term financial health is to pay yourself first, so every month set money aside in a separate account the same way you’d pay your other bills.
Getting out of debt takes time and discipline, but it is possible. If you’re still struggling after reading these tips, consider working with a daily money manager to create a budget you can live with.