15 Minutes to Success

I was going to call this article the 15 minute rule, but then I realized there was a book by the same title, which I have not read. Can 15 minutes make a difference to your success? Here’s my view of how it can:

It Gets You Started

Almost everything takes longer than 15 minutes to accomplish, which is the plain truth. However, if you say that you will spend just 15 minutes on a task, it helps you to get started rather than always putting off the important. Can you imagine all of the tasks that would help out your finances if you eventually started working on them? This is why there are such similarities between money and health. Commit small amounts of time and you will see drastic results over a long period of time. Ignore both and you will see dismal results over a long period of time.

You Can Get Something Done

Although 15 minutes is a short amount of time, you are usually pleasantly surprised by how much you can accomplish in such a short period of time. This is especially true if you commit 15 minutes over and over again. Before you know it, you are working your way towards accomplishment.

It Beats the Procrastination Drag

No one feels good when they procrastinate. Once a task gets started it will give you an emotional boost to continue and the procrastination bug will disappear.

Give a shot and see what you can accomplish in 15 minutes. You may end up writing a blog article!

 

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Productive People Focus on This One Time Management Technique

There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of books on time management. Technically, you cannot really “manage” time, but you can control how you spend your time. Here is a technique that seems to trump most of the time management tips, but you must first be able to identify how and when to use it.

Focus on Important, but not Urgent Items

If you focus on this one technique, then your productivity will increase substantially. The problem is that it is easy to let important, but not urgent items slip away. Usually these important items have this in common:

  1. They take more time to complete than many of your other tasks
  2. They require more time, energy, and focus
  3. If you do not do them today, tomorrow, or even next week, then your current situation will probably not be impacted

Examples include:

  1. Projects that are not due in the near future
  2. Actions that have a cumulative effect, for example, marketing tasks for your business or personal actions such as exercising and eating better
  3. Developing and maintaining relationships with people

Take a look at all of the tasks that you are constantly putting off and this is where you should begin to implement changes. A common enemy that fights against the important are low value, urgent activities. Think of important, not urgent items as drinking a protein shake vs. drinking a can of soda.

 

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4 Business Ideas During These Times

What are some business ideas that you can implement and that should thrive during these times and in the future? Here are 4 to choose from:

Marketing Services

This includes web design, social media marketing, and developing content for your customers. The online marketing trend should continue and there will be a demand for this service to be outsourced.

Pest Control

With people spending more time at home they will notice more of the creepy crawlies around the house. If you’re spending more time inside your home then you are probably making more of a mess with food and inviting opportunities for pests.

Virtual Services

Although this is a huge market, there is a growing trend for services to be delivered online. Examples include: training videos, consulting services, and learning about various topics from personal to business knowledge.

Online Product Sales

Unfortunately, most online sellers do not do this one correctly and would be better off getting a minimum wage job. However, if you focus on a niche product or line of products that you can easily manage and that have a large enough profit margin, then you can do very well. Options include selling directly though your website or through online marketplaces like Amazon.

 

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Business Time or Family Time?

A common struggle is balancing spending time on your business to make more money and a focus on your family. Should you sacrifice your family time to make more money?

There will be times in your life when you need to spend more time on your business due to reasons such as seasonality of the business, growing the business, starting up a new business, and fixing problems. This is normal and probably will not create long-term problems unless taken to the extreme. Extreme examples include: working 7 days a week/12 hours a day, working away from home for long stretches of time, and always coming home with no energy left over for your family. The threshold will be different for every family depending upon dynamics and the length of time away, but a general rule is the more time away from your family, the easier it will be to invite problems into your home.

A good approach is a balanced approach. By taking this approach you set limits and boundaries on time spent on your business. While you can still grow your business, you may end up with slower growth due to less time being spent on it. However, if you work smarter, then you may actually do better by spending your time even more productively and only pursuing opportunities that provide the highest return per time spent. Maybe you can have your cake and eat it to!

Figure out what you are trying to accomplish with your business growth and make sure this is in line with what matters most to you.

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Do You Want a Free Credit Report?

Anytime you hear the word “Free” there is usually a catch and the free item isn’t really free. Surprisingly, you can receive a free credit report by doing this:

Type annualcreditreport.com into your browser, click on “Request your free credit reports,” and start the process. It will take you less than 10 minutes and it is completely free. Federal law requires each of the three consumer credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, to give you a free credit report every 12 months if you request it. Technically, you can receive 3 each year if you obtain one from a different credit reporting company every 4 months.

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Don’t Do This

There is one financial transaction that I strongly discourage clients from doing and here’s why . . .

Do not withdraw from your retirement accounts early! Here are the reasons why I hear most people want to withdraw from their retirement accounts:

  1. Purchase a house
  2. Pay for expenses while unemployed
  3. As a temporary loan, with the intentions of replacing the money
  4. To pay for unforeseen expenses
  5. You need the money for (fill in the blanks)

The main reason to not do this is because it is one of the major reasons for tax problems. Aside from early withdrawal penalties, additional income taxes are accessed  on the balance, withholdings are not usually taken or not enough, and you may end up increasing your income, which sometimes pushes you into an even higher tax bracket. Once you add up all of the penalties and taxes, then the amount withdrawn can disappear by half for some.

What are some other options as you are most likely withdrawing your retirement funds because you desperately need the money and do not have a cash cushion? If you are employed, you may be able to obtain a retirement plan loan from your employer, which is not a taxable event. Alternatively, you might be able to borrow the money from your home’s equity. In some cases, you may be able to delay what you need the money for if not needed for emergency purposes.

Over the long-term, this is why I stress slowly building up a cash emergency fund. Yes, it’s boring and unexciting, but you will be glad you did when the time comes.

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I Was Scammed

Even the smart professional gets scammed every now and then. I’m supposed to be impervious to anything related to parting with money foolishly. How humbling . . .

Fortunately, I didn’t fall for a huge scam, but I fell for it nonetheless. How did this happen? The scam penetrated my ultimate weakness; not thinking clearly when sleep deprived. Here’s the story:

I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep right away. By the way, I heard that if this happens it’s best to just get out of bed for a little while instead of lying there sleepless or using your phone. Eventually, I picked up my phone, and started to watch YouTube videos. In the middle of a video appeared an infomercial about a special fan that cools air quickly with the use of water and some sort of advanced technology. It was probably a warm night because I purchased the fan thinking that it may come in handy, especially if making pizza in a hot oven during the summer. If the fan can cool down a factory that melts steel, then it can certainly cool down my kitchen.

Fast forward a few weeks, and fortunately only $90 later after shipping and handling, arrived this magical air cooling fan. I read the directions, added some water, plugged it in, and laughed at myself for being so stupid. The fan was so weak that you couldn’t even feel it unless you were within a foot or two away from the breeze. Nothing was really cooled except for my pride.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a lot of money, but I did learn two lessons. First, anyone can get scammed under the right circumstances, and two, don’t watch YouTube videos at night, especially when you’re tired.

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Are You Striving Too Hard or Too Little?

There is nothing wrong with striving to have financial success but be careful of taking it too far. The opposite can also be true, whereas you don’t strive enough, which can create another set of problems. Here are some signs of each:

Signs You are Striving too Hard

  1. You work an excessive amount of hours to get ahead at the peril of your own health and relationships
  2. No matter what you accomplish it never seems to be enough
  3. Most of your conversations involve making more money. However, this doesn’t apply to financial professionals.
  4. Your drive is not enjoyable anymore

Signs You are Striving too Little

  1. You are always behind financially due to a lack of effort
  2. When business is down, aside from a worldwide pandemic, you do nothing to turn it around
  3. Your efforts are not producing any real financial success
  4. You take little to no corrective actions to get ahead

The Right Balance

The right balance may be as simple as striving for success, while putting financial success in its proper place. It’s different for everyone and if you are honest with yourself you will know when you are striving in an unhealthy way or not striving enough.

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5 Risks to be Aware of that Will Hurt Your Finances

There are ups and downs in life, good times and bad, and everything in between. Unfortunately, some events can hurt your finances in a significant way and may even be beyond your control. What are some of these risks to be aware of and what can you control?

Health Issues

As we become older, there are more chances of having a serious health issue. What is not commonly thought of is that family members, such as spouses, elderly parents, and children can develop health issues, both physical and mental. We have a responsibility to take care of our family, and the time spent will take time away from our job or business, which will eventually lower our earnings. While you cannot control the health of others, you can take charge of your own health and that of your children by living a healthy lifestyle.

Addictions

Do not think that you are immune to addictions. Aside from alcohol, illegal drugs, and gambling addictions, there are other destructive addictions that will ruin your finances such as prescription drugs, video games, and pornography/sex. The statistics on who has these addictions, how they start, age groups, and the impact on your brain are alarming. Be aware of these addictions and do your best to stop them before they start.

Divorce

Aside from paying legal fees, there are statistics that show that divorced women experience a prolonged loss of earnings and lower standard of living after divorce, even though various studies show that approximately 70% of women initiate divorce. Surprisingly, statistics show that a man’s earnings increase significantly after divorce. Focus on a healthy marriage and your finances will be stronger, plus some studies show that divorce does not lead to a better life.

High Income then Low Income

Inconsistent income patterns can hurt your finances in multiple ways. The first is that if your income is very high in one year, then your spending will probably increase, and once your income drops, your spending will probably not drop as quickly, if at all. Second, if you have a very good year in your business and don’t set aside a reserve for taxes, then you won’t have the money to pay your tax bill, especially if your income is lower in the following year. I have seen this situation happen repeatedly.

Expense Creep

Expenses have a way of increasing faster than your income and are hard to lower once they do. A good rule is to increase your savings in the same proportion as your income, and do not incur additional debt. This way, it does not really matter what you spend, and yes, I really did say that, because mathematically it does not matter. It’s putting first things first.

 

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Hate Your Job, Make Less Money and Be Unhappy?

There is a recurring theme that I keep on hearing about love/hate relationships with jobs. It’s only anecdotal, but are job haters unhappy and make less money than  those with high job satisfaction? What are the possible reasons and what can you do about it?

Difference between a difficult job and hating your job

There are some jobs that are difficult, due to a lot pressure, working for management with poor people skills, and harsh working conditions. I’m not talking about a difficult job, but one that you hate so much that you dread waking up, driving to work, and virtually every second you are working.

Your drive may be less if you dread your job

When the drive to perform your job is diminished, most likely you will not push yourself to do a great job or go above and beyond. Ironically, if you put more effort into a job, even one that you hate, you may increase your satisfaction, while at a minimum bettering your job performance. Your bosses and management will eventually notice.

Dissatisfaction = lower income

When your drive is lower because you hate your job, it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereas your performance suffers and so does your pay. If you don’t give just a little bit extra of yourself, then others will notice. You may end up being a self-centered taker vs. a generous giver, which does not feel good.

Control your reactions and responses

The ultimate solution is to respond to your job situation versus being reactive to every negative whim you experience. Maybe it is not the job that is the issue, but your reactions to your job situation. Start responding in a healthy way and you will start to see how your work relationships change for the better. Better relationships = greater satisfaction.

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