I love the start of a new year!
Almost as much as I love my birthday. That to me, has always been the start of a real new year but there is still something amazing about a new blank calender with a completely clean slate, just waiting for new opportunities and new accomplishments. So how about this be the year you put away the decisions that don’t support what you really want out of life?
Sounds like a plan to you too? I’m all in!
Unfortunately for most of us that’s easier said then done at times.
You know what I have learned about that? It all comes down to a plan. See, “putting away decisions that don’t support”….Well…..that’s an idea.
It’s a GREAT idea but an idea all the same. Ideas have to be given feet that can be firmly planted. Ideas with feet can move in any direction you tell them to. So this year let’s put together a plan that can lead our idea right to the desired location.
To help you with yours, I have put together for you a 100% free budgeting PDF of 100+ possible budgeting categories with a training video to get the plan right from the first step. Just click on the picture, download your PDF, and get ready to plan where you are going in 2015 and beyond.
It’s been around a while but a New Years celebration is the perfect time to remind us that saving needs to become a habit in our lives if we want to create a better financial situation. It’s hands down one of the MOST important money habits we need to develop. I’m sharing the 52 week saving challenge again this year because it’s such a simple way to start developing the habit of savings in our own lives.
Before I jump right into how it works though let me share with you a free video training I have available for you. If you have decided that you really want to turn over a new financial leaf this new year be sure to grab the free PDF download and watch the training video to make sure you are getting off on the right foot this year.
The challenge works like this:
You make a weekly savings deposit in the amount of the week of the year you are in and you end the year with over $1300 saved and a natural habit of saving.
Download your printable reminder here: 52 Week Saving Challenge
Happy Saving in this year and beyond!
Last week I shared a list of apps that I personally use on an almost daily basis to help my Facebook quiz diagnosed A.D.D. brain stay on task. I personally swear by each and every one. But this week I want to share some app-free habits and techniques that I have developed over time that I swear makes all the difference in my ability to get things done. And how you too can maximize your productivity.
And it all boils down to this basic premise I left off with last week.
How do I get so much done I’m asked over and over again? I plan out what I want to get done. Here’s a few of the ways I do that.
Clear my brain
In the evenings I jot down a list of three ideal outcomes for the next day. I spend some time at least a few times a week quietly sitting and dumping out all the randomness in my mind. Making lists and scribbling anything and everything that comes to mind. It is so much easier to pull out of that randomness exactly what needs to be handled and what is most important.
Put together the master list
Sunday evening or Monday morning of every week I make a completely unorganized list of everything I want to accomplish this week. Mopping the kitchen floor? Yep it’s in there. Completing week 3 of a new class I’m working on? Yep it’s on there. Taking my kids to the library and my client meetings for the week? All on it, in no particular order. Then I take that list and start breaking it down per day. Certain things have to happen on a specific day and others just have to happen.
It’s fairly easy to put the non-negotiable time commitments down and then fill it in with additional options.
Assign everything a time frame
I add a time frame to each activity and start adding up the time itemized. Once I hit my maximum time frame I gave myself for the week I stop. If I have things on the list still I figure out what is more important to include in this week’s schedule and what will have to wait until a future week.
This alone eliminates that panic feeling of……”There’s no way I will have the time to get it all done.” I can see it in black and white. Baring some emergency (and I’m pretty picky on what becomes and emergency) I do have time to complete everything on my list. There is no overwhelm. Just where do I start.
The other beauty of the time frames is that if I finish one project early and I have under an hour I can look at my list and immediately see what items I can wipe out in the time frame I have available rather than looking at the clock assuming I don’t have time to work on the next thing and loose 45 minutes of my work day on Pinterest or Facebook.
Add Stretch Goals
Every week I add about 3 stretch goals that I want to include in case things go much smoother than expected, I get unexpected help with something, or another project is not ready. Sometimes I finish under the time frame budgeted and make a choice to tackle one stretch goal and sometimes I don’t. The point is to always have a list detailed so if I have an opportunity to work on it and the motivation to do so I know exactly what’s next that needs to be done or what will give me a jump start on next week.
Guess how many things I get done most weeks. Almost all of them. It’s not coincidence. It’s actually not super powers or Jedi tricks at all. .
It’s just a plan. A detailed plan.
I happen to be slightly competitive (with myself only). Once I’ve visualized my finish line I’m going to run a few yards past it. There are a lot of driven people on this planet. So what makes one driven person get more done than another? Sometimes we drive less hard than others simply because we don’t really know where were going.
Feel like you need a little help putting together your plan? Developing Discipline University is your opportunity to get unstuck, quit procrastinating, and stop allowing excuses to dictate your future.
Ever feel a little defeated when you look at all the things that need to get done? I know I do. So today I’m sharing some of my favorite productivity game changers that I personally use to help me accomplish more in less time and maintain some level of sanity in the process. And I’m doing it in 2 parts. This week is all about the tech stuff that helps me stay ahead of the curve. Next week is all about processes that I feel keeps me on top of my game.
I will full well admit……I am all over the place.
Literally, I have one of those minds that doesn’t shut off.
I think they call that A.D.D. I took a quiz on Facebook one time. It told me that’s what’s wrong with me. So I guess I have like a web MD now……..or something.
Anyway, I love my A.D.D. so I will keep it; drug free and all. Although I will admit to adding wine at times. : ) I love wine.
Regardless, one statement I have heard for most of my adult life is, “I don’t know how you have time to get half of the things done you do.” Or some other variation of, your too busy, and I don’t think I could make all that happen.
These statements used to seriously confuse me because my brain just functions the way it functions. You know what I mean? I just am who I am and it never really occurred to me to compare myself to what everyone else was doing. I most likely couldn’t pay attention that long anyway…..
It also took me a long time to realize that not everyone enjoys their brain functioning this way.
That being said, I make no excuses. I don’t feel I should be different. I don’t generally feel the need to take more time to chill. I’ve learned very simply that when I do, I add more down time to my schedule. I’m not a big fan of TV. I am just me.
So A.D.D. mind or not there are still an arsenal of ways that I stay on top of things in my life and that allow me to make huge progress. Here are a list of my favorite apps or programs that keep me on task and in control of my time.
I too have been trapped in e-mail hell after not checking it for an entire (gasp!) weekend. Oh my Lord! I don’t even avoid my e-mail accounts now out of pure fear of the time suck they could become. Every promotional subscription I told it to grab goes into my unroll.me e-mail. When I am choosing to look online for something or want to browse some favorite blogs I open it and check it out. When I don’t care, I delete it.
Just make sure you don’t add your Finances With Funk e-mail to that list. You wouldn’t want to accidentally delete that goodness.
I don’t use this every single day but when I feel like I don’t have much time to plan my day I can do it from anywhere on the planet. I can set alerts for tomorrow at a certain time if I need to call someone back or I have an online appointment and then don’t have to worry about it again or clock watch. I hate clock watching. I also can add things to be done eventually and it keeps tab of it so it never falls completely off the radar.
I also love the ability to add my shopping list under the Go to Costco reminder. Or being able to add my to do action plan under a new project on my list. Things just don’t get missed and I can access them from any of my devices.
I love this. I am so into insights. I could analyze performance results and calculate projections all day long if I could get paid for it. I know that’s geeky. I love geeky.
Just like everyone else, every so often I feel like I have not accomplished anything that actually needs to be done. Because quite frankly, I haven’t. Enter Rescue Time. I can analyze how much time I have wasted online and can really see what times of the day I tend to allow my time to slip off task and out of focus. Then I can adjust my schedule accordingly to limit it from happening.
Focus at Will
Exactly the app I turn to when I find myself analyzing my rescue time statistics. If you have a Web M.D. diagnosis of A.D.D. this app is a must for you. Other than sitting in a coffee shop for 4 hours every single day I don’t think I could possibly actually stay on task with anything else. I’m using it right now as I type this. And I still had to stop 4 times in the process to refill my drink, make a phone call, and send an e-mail or two. But it brings me directly back to my desk when I do.
I set my timer. I pick my background music. I go to work and don’t stop until it tells me I can. It’s like using the Pomodoro technique without having to monitor it myself. I love the pomodoro technique by the way.
How do I get so much done. I plan out what I want to get done. I don’t use an app for this, just a fairly straightforward consistent process. What’s that called again? Oh yeah! A habit.
Want the rest of my app free productivity champions? Be sure to sign up for our weekly e-mail newsletter so you will be notified next week when I share all my un-techy habits that I believe make 100% of the difference.
And if you just need help getting started, check out my six week Developing Discipline University. It is your step by step guide to quit procrastinating, get out of your own way, eliminate your own self sabotaging behavior, and stay accountable in the process.
I’m not going to lie, I expect a lot. And here’s a little tip, I know you’re capable of a lot.
The Balancing of Babies, Budgets, and Business – Embracing the Messy on the Road to Mastering Work Life Balance
Whoever came up with the term “work life balance” obviously was never a working parent. ESPECIALLY one that was self employed!
Most entrepreneurs start their businesses with a burning desire to be the one in control. With your head down and life whizzing by you continue the grind to build the crystal clear vision you have. Progress isn’t an option because it’s just how you were wired. That’s why you know you can do it all. The balancing of Babies, Budgets, and Business doesn’t even seem like a question of if it’s just the way life works.
But what happens when you look up to realize you no longer feel in control of this business or this life. You remember all the reasons you wanted this: to be free to be present with your kids, to do something that actually mattered, and to make money too.
One day you look around to realize you actually feel controlled by your obligations and obligated to busy. And although it would seem busy should feel like progress it actually feels a lot more like stagnant, and you start to get that unsettling sense that you are doing nothing well.
I’ll share a truth with you that I have learned about that feeling; You’re most likely right.
But before you sail that boat right off the edge here are 4 tips that will help you maintain balance among the bedlam and embrace the messy that is scattered along the road to mastering.
Create room in the budget to allow for help.
As entrepreneurs, often the only thing we feel we have less of than time is money. One thing I have learned to do throughout my multiple businesses is to have a set amount that gets deposited into a sinking fund for “what if’s”. Sometimes it may build up for months without being touched and then gets emptied in an afternoon. This fund over the last 15 years has hired a cleaning lady for the office prior to a large event we were hosting when I didn’t feel like I would have the time to get it as clean as I would like it to be. It’s also hired tech help from Odesk to take care of a job it would have taken me hours to figure out. It’s also the fund that ordered the software that made one of my jobs tremendously easier and more flexible. It removes the thought process of, “Can I afford it?” or “Should I spend money on that?” Nothing else is getting neglected or robbed and while most of it I could have done myself or lived without I felt at the time the money was better spent elsewhere.
Create a schedule that allows for the unexpected.
As a parent there are times you are going to forget about the kid’s field trip. (At least if you’re a normal one.) I get unsettled when I feel that I have been completely neglecting my role as wife and mother and the spillover to my business efficiency is remarkable. Now when I wake up to my five year old asking if I am going with him to the planetarium today I glace at my schedule, send a few texts to move one or two things that can be, and drop a few things out altogether that didn’t need to be in there in the first place. And vice versa, when I have some major flow working on a current project I free myself from guilt about letting the kids go to after school care for an hour so I can multiply my progress.
Be willing to step away.
Have you ever been going in so many different directions that you feel like you aren’t making progress on any of them? One of the most important things I have learned in my life is that when I feel like I don’t have time for anything I need to step away from everything. It’s true that calmer minds do generally prevail. When I give myself the permission to take an afternoon, or (gasp) a day off I am renewed with a clearer mind on where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. Staying on the merry-go-round makes me a bad boss, a bad mother, and a bad businesswoman.
Accept that you’re the boss.
You run the show. So just because you originally set a specific deadline for your next project there are circumstances that may come up that require you to be more flexible. You would be doing your business a disservice to rush production and get something to market before it’s time. Be comfortable in your decisions as the boss to know when you need to alter your own time-frames.
I get that you’re harder on yourself than anyone else could possibly be but grace is a gift you must learn to give yourself and can be a major key to a successful business and life.
Now it’s your turn. What is one of your most difficult struggles in balancing it all? Leave yours in the comments below.
Feel like you need a bit more mastering on this topic? Be sure to jump on the mailing list to be eligible to apply for a review copy of my new book by the same name “Babies, Budgets, and Business” upon pre-release early 2015.
Last week I read “Difference” by Bernadette Jiwa.
It was share worthy. In it she gives us all an invitation to matter to people.
I think we experience pure joy in life when we are using our natural gifts to serve others.
I’ve heard the words we’ve all heard even if it’s in our own heads. “Make a difference.” And then instantly somewhere deep in the depths of our being we start the excuses or from the space around our minds we start to feel the inadequacies and with them the pressure to shrink back in.
I have heard the words, “People relate to the way you share things.” “You create options in people’s minds they have never seen for themselves.”
I have heard, “Trish, you’re amazing at taking, what looks like a hopeless circumstance, and spinning it in a way that motivates people to not settle for less than dream results.”
Those statements inspire me to keep working hard. Those statements motivate me to push my own limits even when I don’t feel like it. They motivate me to keep working towards the next thing because I expect others to push towards their next thing.
But sometimes those reinforcements are absent. Sometimes the words don’t ever come or have long since been forgotten.
Bernadette shares in her book “difference” the ten characteristics of difference thinkers:
- They practice empathy because they care enough to make an impact.
- They have a clear sense of the change they want to make in the world.
- They are impatient about tactics and endlessly patient about implementing their strategy.
- They ask the right questions, and that means that they talk more than twice as much as they listen, because talking takes guts. Mostly, they ignore those who offer empty criticism.
- They watch what people do and don’t just believe what people tell them.
- They innovate and create at the edges, ignoring the market of everyone.
- They make products for their customers, instead of trying to find customers for their products.
- They understand that they need to give people a story to tell-a ‘you’ve gotta see this’ moment.
- They work hard to change how people feel, by creating intangible value that gives them an emotional point of difference.
- They understand that trust is their second-most valuable asset. The first is the willingness to be wrong for the right reason.
And then in a week that I was feeling so used up and drained out, I was inspired to write more. I was inspired to put more into the next book and make the next class more interactive and fun. I resolved my efforts. I snubbed the internal doubt that the next one wouldn’t be a best seller. The doubt that no one would read it or worse that everyone would read it and hate it.
It deserved to be snubbed because in all honesty it doesn’t matter. A question I challenge myself with before every single event I speak at or every single class I teach is, “What if there is only one person in that room that needs this today? Would that be worth it? Would that be worth showing up?” The answer is always yes.
I’m obligated to show up every day to the best of my ability and say something or create a plan that matters to someone. That helps someone. That motivates someone. That serves someone.
And you are too. You make a difference in someone’s life. And when you feel those excuses start to develop you just need to listen. Not to the inner voice that yells much louder but to the world around you.
Sunday I listened to an attendee at an event voice a problem they were having. And I responded. Wednesday I listened to some youth get excited about ideas I was randomly throwing out in a class I was teaching and I listened as they began to share thoughts that allowed them to deepen the ideas and corroborate even more. Thursday I listened to a friend as she was struggling with an issue and offered a few ideas for solutions.
I listened and I served them.
And in the end that’s really all that matters.
The rest is just the rest. It’s really none of our business to question the size of the impact we make. It’s only our business to make an impact. (Click to tweet that here.) Or as Bernadette urges, to make a difference.
Have you read something that inspired you lately? Share your book in the comments.
I get asked almost daily about the different online budgeting software out there compared to using the cash envelopes system. So today I want to talk to you about why I still use “actual” cash for certain transactions but also LOVE the idea of online budgeting and tracking software. I’m just focusing on Mvelopes today because from what I have experienced it does the best at replicating the original.
So Virtual Cash Envelopes or Actual Cash Envelopes?
No matter where you stand on this issue you can’t ignore the fact that real cash in actual envelopes causes you to view the cash in front of you before you go to the store rather than making the adjustment after you’ve spent.
When I’m heading out the door to run to the grocery store I can easily look at my virtual Mvelope balance to see what it tells me that I have left in that category.
And identically I can walk to the safe and open an actual envelope to see what is available in it.
BUT here’s the big difference between the two. With Mvelopes and my atm or credit card in hand; When I’m at the store and see something else that isn’t part of the plan (that I really want!) I am not faced with getting to the checkout and not having enough money for what I’m buying.
Well so I went over by $20. No big deal I can just make up for that next month….. So what, I deserve it…… None of those thoughts go through my mind when I’m looking at the $200 in my wallet and the grocery cart full of food.
I have tried both personally and can only share that I have found with “virtual cash” in hand the justification of, “It’s not that big of a deal” is a fairly common event and with actual cash in hand I have never once had to go put back a few items because I went over what I planned.
The other thing that I can tell you from my own personal experience is that when I am looking at cash sitting in front of me while putting together my menu plan and list for the grocery store, I’m more conservative. (I am sure “actual” psychologists can give you a much more scientific reason why this is true, rather than the one you are going to get from your “financial psychologist”
right now) The best that I can figure is that the “real” money sitting in front of me is……well……more real.
I love the concept of envelope budgeting. It’s one of the easiest ways to take complete control of your money. You tell $700 of it that it’s being used for groceries and that’s what it’s used for.
Which brings me to another point on this, even though it’s perfectly acceptable using the online Mvelopes system, you don’t borrow money from one envelope for another.
If you are constantly running short in one envelope than one of two things is happening. One; you’re not budgeting enough in that area.
Or two; you are being irresponsible with your spending in that area.
If the first is the case then your plans broken; If the second is the case then borrowing from the other isn’t forcing you to come to terms with your overspending or requiring you to create a healthier relationship with your finances and the possible emotional response you are having to that sort of spending.
What I love about Mvelopes for people that get frustrated with cash flow issues is that it allows you to enter paychecks using a calendar.
It’s almost more common these days to get multiple types of payments throughout the month and sometimes that makes it difficult to figure out which income payments are actually going to fit into when the bills are due. Mvelopes lets you decide which “paychecks” are going to fund which expenses. That is a godsend to a number of my clients.
You can also split transactions into different envelopes being sure that just because you paid for your entire Costco shopping trip together you can still calculate what you have left in household compared to grocery money.
The key is to understand how you function. If you have one area that isn’t a necessity (like rent or utilities) that you consistently say, “I spend $400 a month in that area”, only to realize at the end of every month the figure is much more like $600, good old fashioned cash may be the key to gaining a little foundation in reality. For others an online cash management tool like Mvelopes might work perfect.
Now it’s your turn. What budgeting tool do you love and why? Leave a comment below.
We know everyone and their brother is going to give up smoking and finally loose their extra weight but one of the next most popular New Years Resolutions set are financial.
If this year your focus it to pay down debt, build an emergency fund, or finally save for that new couch you’ve always wanted, here are five tips to meet your financial goals with littlest effort possible.
If you’re planning on setting up a new savings goal or you just want to make an extra debt payment the easiest way of all is to schedule it as a regular bill and then set up the transfer into the savings account or payment to the credit card company to happen automatically. Capital One 360 has a great Goal Setting Page and allows you automate deposits all sorts of different ways.
A lot of us feel like committing an extra $400 a month is too much to re-purpose out of our budget but if you have it set up to automatically draft on the days that coincide with your paychecks or during the paychecks that generally have more discretionary income you will quickly start to view it as just another bill. Spreading it out makes it much more manageable.
If you are starting at ground zero and have never been successful doing this then start out small. Begin with $25 a week rather than $100 and set a specific date on the calendar that you will bump it up. Even if it’s by only a little. Over time you will absolutely notice an increase in savings or a decrease in debt. And more importantly you will develop the habits of a saver. I’d much rather you develop a perfect habit than meet your timeline perfectly.
Track your spending
Regardless of your love or hate relationship with spreadsheets, tracking your spending is one of the quickest ways to find extra money. When we don’t actually track it we tend to have a very poor perception of reality. You can say you don’t spend that much money on food and eating out all you want, but unless you can show me that you have tracked it over a few months I will (almost) bet my first born on the fact that you are spending more than you think you are.
Think you don’t have the extra money to save? Start tracking your spending so you can reign in categories that are unreasonable and you will magically find the extra funds. Need to make this a little simpler? Use Quicken or Mint.com that can pull from your accounts and update your spending categories automatically and allow you to split transactions to multiple categories or enter transactions manually you used cash for so you don’t miss any.
Use cash when you have no control
You may have set a budget to spend $100 on clothes every month only to realize when the month is over and you get the credit card bill you are closer to $200. You may promise yourself you won’t shop next month but a lot can happen in the course of a month and that perception of how long it’s been since you last went shopping is a distant memory.
Take the money out in cash at the beginning of the month and when it’s gone it’s gone. Built in self control.
But Trish, I have to use the store credit card so I get the store loyalty points!
Fine, use it and immediately make the payment before you leave the store. I don’t know of any stores that don’t allow you to do this. Or if for some reason it’s not possible use your bank’s app on your smartphone and schedule it in the parking lot of the department store.
Have Extra? Get rid of it.
You may have budgeted $250 for your utility bill that came in at $215. Pay the bill and send the extra $35 straight to your savings account or credit card company at the same time. Get an extra hour or two on your paycheck this pay period? Get it out of there before it starts feeling like “Extra”. When cash sits around without a job we stop considering it as just as important as the dollars that already had a job.
You will be amazed how a few dollars of extra money each month can really add up over time.
Create a stepladder and create accountability
Just like having a workout buddy that encourages you to hit the gym, a get out of debt partner can encourage a walk or a free concert in the park over a dinner out to the new trendy restaurant. Your not going to meet your goals if you are constantly facing the opposition of your peers to continue doing those activities that got you in debt in the first place. Be honest with your friends and don’t hold back on why you are doing it. Just saying I can’t doesn’t really fuel support. Sharing your vision of why makes it much easier for your friends or family to cheer-lead for you.
Paying off $6,000 of extra debt or saving it for a vacation you really would love to take next year might seem like a lot of money in the big picture. But focusing on that first $1,000 and doing it as fast as you can will give you a short term quick win that will encourage you to keep at that goal. That next $2,000 doesn’t quite seem so arduous. And before you know it you’re buying that plane ticket.
Have you set a financial goal for 2014? Let’s get started with the accountability and leave yours in the comments below. Do you have your own trick that has helped you pay down debt or boost your savings? Share yours in the comments below.
If you liked this post and want to help your friends meet their savings goals be sure to share this post on Facebook or Twitter.
And if you’re still feeling stuck with taking your finances to the next level it might be time to start your own Personal Finance Transformation.