Tag: finances

Marketing Ethics

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired with the current marketing strategies of certain companies. You are invited to watch a video, or a landing page, and it literally loses me in the first 5 seconds.

You will ask why? Well, I don’t want to hear 600 times if I would love to look better, make more money, or anything, accompanied by not so official stories of success, only to end up at the end of the video or page, to see that IF you REALLY want all that you have to buy this, that or the other.

How about you start respecting your prospective clients and customers by being honest. Yes share a video or a landing page or even a webinar, and take 10 seconds to tell your audience all the great stuff your company offers, if we only pay this or that amount to learn the how to, or buy your product?

Don’t underestimate the savvy consumer or business person by claiming things that are not proven. Branding your company and gaining respect in the market is essential. Don’t use Facebook or other social media with LOUD titles such as W. White is being fired from TV O M G she is hiding a huge secret, or Helen DeGeneres, only to have people land to a page that claims to have the latest cream, or pill that will magically transform you.

Have you ever seen Dell let’s say, or Macy’s, or Microsoft drag you through the mud to convince you to buy something or subscribe to a service? Of course not! Be honest. Respect who you are and what your company stands for.

In today’s ever changing market, EVERYONE wants to become a billionaire in 5 minutes, pushing buttons, becoming an affiliate of shady companies that show you income pictures from their so called Bank Accounts or PayPal accounts.

Give me a break!

And I do not mean everyone! There are fantastic, hard working honest companies that stand behind their products or services and who respect YOU, the end buyer.

Stick with those good companies and do not fall prey for shady business practices. It is really a shame to see such ethics and conduct, especially now that we have so many wonderful tools to further our businesses and be proud of our process, our product and the people we come in contact with!

Wishing is different than doing!

star141Most of the people I meet, are in “The Secret” frenzy, in positive thinking, in submitting to the fates.
Meditation, praying, visualizing, positive thinking, are all great and do work if you know how to use those tools. Simply sending positive thoughts out “there” and believing that some supreme being will bring it to you is wrong.
If you REALLY want to have food at your table, you have to work HARD to get it. Continue reading “Wishing is different than doing!”

Holidays are around the corner

November is already here and with it starts a frenzy of spending.

This is a very good time to budget your expenses, because most of my clients come to me wide eyed after the Holidays asking themselves where all the money went. We tend to forget that the year comes to an end and we need to prepare for taxes. Do you have all your ducks in a row?

I have talked about creating a budget in the past. If you haven’t done so, PLEASE start now. Make sure that you are out of debt! If you have consumer debt (credit cards, store cards, etc.) get creative about the upcoming Holidays. Expensive gifts are not going to help you with your debt, and don’t show how much you love your friends and family.
Start simply with an excel sheet, write down ALL your monthly expenses and include your credit card debt payments.
On the next column write down what you bring in every month. Subtract expenses from income and see what you have left.

If there is nothing left, then you have to set some goals and get rid of your debt as fast as possible. Wait to do some basic shopping after Thanksgiving, when prices are at their best.
Make a very conservative list of people you NEED to buy presents for. If you have kids, they don’t need 20 presents each. They can do with 2. Don’t fall for the social pressure trap, and never compare your situation with others. Everyone has their own financial situation and never forget that we create our situation.

Make these Holidays simple, happy and surrounded only by people that truly matter. You can absolutely decline invitations that do not mean anything more than more expenses, and that are not surrounded by friends.

I have cut my list down to 8 people. Everyone else, like colleagues, social acquaintances, my hair and nail salon people etc., will be very happy to receive a small package of cookies or a cake that you baked. You can easily find cheap festive baking pans in your local super market, and simply bake something. The cost of this will only thank your wallet.

I will be posting more ideas as the days go by. Have a great November, and remember! Good finances give you absolute freedom from stress and anxiety.

 

 

 

Unemployment as Reality

Thinking about life, jobs, careers, finances, I read this very interesting article and am sharing it with you.

Unfortunately, unemployment is a reality nowadays, so some of you might find some hope and insight.

Feeling Ashamed of Being Unemployed – Am I afraid of telling people that I am out of work?

Published by Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D. in Anxiety Files

I told a neighbor of mine that I had written a book on coping with unemployment and he said to me, “I never told you this, but last year I was unemployed for five months. The worst time for me was when I got up in the morning. I was too embarrassed to go out. I felt like I was in a prison until five in the afternoon when I could leave my apartment. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was unemployed”. How sad—but how human. He is not alone. In Tokyo businessmen get dressed up in the early morning in their suits and leave their apartments and take a train to another part of the city where they sit in a park all day until they can return home. They don’t want anyone to know that they are unemployed. For many, there is a sense of shame, of personal failure, a sense that everyone can see that they don’t have a job and that everyone is judging them. Some people think, “It’s like I am wearing a sign around my neck—unemployed, failure, unwanted.”

Normalize unemployment

But isn’t unemployment a normal condition in our economy? If there are millions of people unemployed at any one time, isn’t it part of our economic system? An unfortunate part-but also simply a reality. Being unemployed is not the same thing as committing a felony. It’s a difficult time, it’s hard to cope, but it’s seldom something anyone intentionally wants. In fact, at any time in history, the job market is fluid. People are always in and out of and in between jobs. One of my former employees filed for unemployment after he finished his training—because his next job (an internship) didn’t start for two months. He was simply exercising his rights in collecting his benefits. He was smart.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world of permanent, life-long jobs. We live in a fluid world, jobs change, markets change, and the job pool is “elastic”. Jobs disappear and jobs are created.

Networks count

Ask yourself, if you are unemployed, “Am I afraid of telling people that I am out of work?” If you are, then you might be missing the chance to get a job. Why? In a study by Franzen and Hangartner in 2006 in the United States, 44% of people got their job through a social contact. The more social contacts that you have, the easier it is to get a job. But if you are so embarrassed about being unemployed- and you tell no one- then you are not making use of your network. Reaching out may be the lifeline that you need.

And think about what you may be avoiding if you are like my neighbor. You are not getting out meeting people, doing things, feeling normal. You are imprisoning yourself. I suggest to my patients who feel this way that they need to take back their lives, go to all the places that they have been avoiding and even—if it seems appropriate—tell someone that they are out of work.

Don’t assume that everyone is a critic

How do you feel about a friend or family member who is out of work? Do you treat them like they are an outcast? You probably have more sympathy and acceptance for a stranger than you might have for yourself. One of my patients who had been unemployed found that a friend also told him that he had gone through a period of being out of work. Sometimes people might actually look at this as an opportunity to help someone they care about.

Take back your life

Locking yourself in your own prison and feeling ashamed about a normal but difficult part of life only undermines your opportunity to take back your life, recognize that being unemployed is simply a current situation to deal with—not a character failing—and that talking to people can help you realize that some people might actually be on your side.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

Unemployment is a normal part of life for millions of decent people.
Being unemployed is not a crime or a moral failing.
Feeling ashamed of economic conditions is like blaming yourself for the economy. You didn’t cause it, you don’t control it.
Bad things happen to good people during difficult times.
Taking back your life means getting out, talking to people, and normalizing what you do.
Don’t assume that people will judge you. Maybe they have been through this in the past.
The more people you talk to, the better your chance of getting a job.

 

 

Efficiency makes your clients come back!

bolder_co_hip_pain_doctor_fullDoctors, Dentists, Hair Salons, and Business owners who make appointments with their customers and patients, PLEASE stop relying on those old fashioned postcard reminders. It has proven to be SO inefficient.

Most receptionists either forget to mail them, or customers and patients don’t fill them out. It is NOT cost effective any longer.

Embrace some basic technology here. You all have email and calendars, and phones and cell phones.

When your clients come in, do them the favor and ask for their email. Then when they leave, simply add to your calendar the date that they need to be reminded for their next appointment and EMAIL them. This will cost you NOTHING, but is so efficient and people can simply add this to their calendars. Those few who do not have email or a cell phone that receives messages, can opt to receive the postcard.

I have had it with my dentist. It has been 2 years since my last visit and he popped in my mind the other day. So I called his office and the receptionists, instead of apologizing simply said: “Oh this keeps happening and I have no idea why”. Don’t you think that this lack of modern service costs your business? Don’t you think that extremely busy people need some convenience? Don’t you care that your own patients do not come back? Is that what any business wants? I sure hope not.

We live in a fast paced social media and email based communication world. Some basic organizational skills and time management make your companies more efficient, your clients happier and your business flourish.

It takes some work to get organized. I get it. But in the long run, a smooth operation makes all the difference. Customer service excellence, is the only way to run a successful business nowadays.

If you need any tips, or have questions as to how-to approach this, I am an email away.

 

Are we repeating the same mistakes?

Live within your NEEDS instead of within your WANTS!

This is the mantra you must learn and repeat daily. The economy is changing, I see credit card offers coming back, I see loan offers for home buyers, I see the past coming back and fast.

Haven’t we learned from the past? Haven’t we seen and felt the results of our past actions?

And when disaster strikes again what will we say then? “Oh I thought that this time things would be different?”

Wake up people. See what’s happening all around the world. Banks are failing, money is not a granted commodity any longer. Make sure that you always have an emergency fund. Financial gurus all over the world are sick and tired of repeating this.

STUFF is not important. Having a roof over your head, and food is important. Having money to pay your bills is important. And when I say bills, I don’t mean debt! Having some money aside in case you get sick.
Good finances is a way of living, is a mentality. Why do you think you need 40 pair of shoes? Why don’t you get the same happy feeling deep down when you see that you have a stash of money and you owe zero? Why do you like to be a sheep following the consumer craze blindly? Take a look around you, and stop for a moment. Think! Seriously think about millions of people who don’t have a job, who lost all their savings because the Banks decided to do so, who are losing their homes because they can’t afford to pay mortgages, or utilities. Yes this is happening people.

Do yourselves a favor and change mentality before it is too late and you come back crying and desperate because you have no way out. You do have a way out. STAY debt free. Live within your needs.

Don’t give lame excuses like oh but this dress is on sale. Do you own a dress? Then you don’t need another one if you don’t even have a budget.

My tone is harsh, I know. But this is the only way to scare you into reality. I have customers who come to me always saying the same words: “Why didn’t I listen to you earlier?” I hear it so many times that I am about to make a huge poster and hang it behind my desk.

Learn to have a budget. It is not rocket science. How much do you make, how much you you NEED to spend? (Rent/mortgage, utilities, gas, car payment, health insurance, taxes, groceries, gas). That’s it.

Hairdos, manicures, lattes, clothes, accessories and facials do not fall in the NEED category. There is so much that any coach can do if you don’t understand the basics of good housekeeping. Keep your financial house in order.

I will write more on this next week. In the meantime, stay out of trouble! I mean it.

 

Debt Relief Services: Part 2

Today I will explain some facts.

Before you even decide to enroll in CareOneCredit’s program, you absolutely HAVE to own your problem. You need to understand what made you get into debt in the first place. Be honest with yourself.

Understand that having more than one credit card is NOT a must! Once you make peace with your situation, make the decision to truly and honestly work at this. One credit card is more than enough. Keep a card for emergency expenses and not to splurge into shopping frenzies, or go to restaurants every week.
Talk with the credit counselors and DO NOT stop making payments to your credit cards, until all the proposals that CareOneCredit will send to your creditors are accepted. There is no reason to panic, or make nasty remarks on their website. I’ve read through the years, posts by many of you that say this program is terrible, that your credit collectors keep calling you.

Credit counseling is NOT your nanny. These services exist for people who are ready to embark in a difficult task to get debt free. If you follow the rules and do what you must, have no doubt that in time you will be debt free.
I am aware that if you had the money you would pay your cards off and this is your reason to ask for help. BUT you can still make the minimum payments to your cards for another month or two. Most credit card companies are happy to accept the proposals, because they are sure that your debts will be paid off.

If a credit card company does not accept a proposal, it is NOT CareOneCredit’s fault. It is usually their policy. This is rare though. I talk from my own experience. I was ready to accept my responsibilities, did all the work and am now debt free.

If you have money to make the monthly payment to CareOneCredit, then you sure have some money to make the minimum payments to your cards. This is no game and you must face the fact that you made some mistakes. We all make mistakes, but we can correct them.

So be a grown up, take the first step and get out of debt as fast as possible.
Another issue I keep hearing that makes me mad, is that a lot of people complain about their credit score taking a dive. Well, when you are up your ears in debt, your credit score is shot anyway. Why do you even care about your credit score when you are in debt? What can you possibly buy when you can barely pay off your debts?

Rest assured that your credit score will be going up in points as you pay your debt off. The credit score is important for loans, car purchases, and home loans. If you tell me that while in debt you want to make any of the above mentioned moves, then I have to say to you that you will NEVER get yourself out of debt. Do not be impulsive. Be honest, be ready to do the work and get rid of this burden once and for all.

My third part will be about people getting right back into debt after paying off their first debt.

 

 

 

DO YOURSELF A BIG FAVOR during tax season

     

Tax Season is upon us again. Please tell me that you have done your tax preparation. DO NOT let this task get the best of you yearly. It is really a shame to file late, or to panic and fill bags with helter-skelter receipts that you don’t even have a clue about.

Do yourselves a huge favor and buy a piece of software like QuickBooks. If you simply run a household, it will work miracles. ALL you’ll need are about 15 minutes per week.’

You enter EVERY penny you spend, as well as your income. That’s all. You are done.

Buy a few filing folders. Categorize them by the stuff you need to keep, which counts for your taxes.
A few folders should be: Home Insurance, Mortgage Payments, Postage-USPS/UPS, Automobile expenses (gas, service, and insurance), Medical expenses (should include your health insurance), Clothing, Bank account statements, Utilities (TV, electricity, water, gas, trash), Phones, and Charitable Donations. If you have a home office, then add a file for Office expenses (printer cartridges, paper, pens, etc.).

Enter everything into QuickBooks, including groceries, charitable donations, deposits and withdrawals to and from your Bank account.

THROW AWAY grocery receipts and anything that does not apply to your CPA’s needs. The rest, you need to keep for three years. Once you have collected three years’ worth of files, and then start your fourth year. On the fifth year, you throw away everything from year 1. In other words, you ALWAYS have in hand 3 past years and the current year of files with receipts and statements.

It is really simple. Teach yourself to get into this routine. You will feel so much freer, so much more organized that your CPA will thank you for it.

On January 1st, simply print out your last fiscal year, mail it to your CPA without any other papers and guess what? YOU ARE DONE.
If you are employed and receive 1099 or W2 forms, then you have to wait until January 31st to receive those, because you have to hand those to your CPA as well.
If you have a business, I am sure that you have a bookkeeper in your team, whose responsibility is to have all that in order for you and mails out all the necessary tax forms for your employees and independent contractors no later than January 21st, so that everyone can have their tax documents in order.

All it takes is some organizing, some determination and a piece of very helpful software.
If you take those very simple steps, you will breeze through tax season each year and avoid headaches, problems, stress and frustration.
If you need bookkeeping help, you can contact me through my page: www.facebook.com/MariellaStockmal1

What I Have Learned From my Mistakes

When we make mistakes, or rather while we are making them, often we don’t realize that they are mistakes. My excuse was always, “Oh, I’ll find a way around this,” or “Just this one time.”

I found out though that the more slack I gave myself, the more I repeated the behaviors, and then I beat myself up for not learning from my mistakes.

It is a big thing for me personally to be able to say that I have learned from my mistakes. It took time, effort, and a lot of tears.

Here is my personal list of lessons learned. I have a copy on my fridge so I never forget.

1. Be honest about what you need and what you think you need.

2. Ignorance is not bliss. Not knowing where you stand financially, can ruin you.

3. Don’t buy unless you pay off your debts. No shoes, clothes, jewelry, spas, lattes.

4. Stay on top of your bills every month. Pick a date and go through your bank accounts, bills, and payments.

5. Run your home like you are the CEO of a huge corporation.

6. Don’t “invest” in get-rich-quick schemes. You will only wind up spending more money. When something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is just that: Too good to be true.

7. Be happy with every small victory. Every payment that you make toward your debt brings you closer to freedom.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone in this journey.

9. Don’t be ashamed of your situation. MOST of us have been exactly where you are at some point in our lives.

10. And last but not least, SMILE. Life is going by too fast. Smile; you’re doing the right thing. Every small step is a step closer toward achieving your goals.

 

Happier with Less

 

Times are changing fast all around the world. A lot of people keep saying: “ah those good old days”. The old days were much simpler and people were used to living with much less.

Just think about it for a second. Did they have cell phones or television or Internet? Did they care if they would buy a new car every two years? Did they have stacks of clothes hanging in closets unused?

People were happy with one good pair of shoes, one Sunday outfit and a roof over their heads. OK I get it, nobody wants to live in what we have come to label as poverty anymore.

BUT living with less can actually make you happier.

I decided to do just that, and you can’t imagine how much happier I am. As a result I spend MUCH less, I actually have extra money left at the end of each month.

I will explain how I do it.  Using a budget, we see and decide how we can save even more.

Here’s the list:

1. We never have lights on except for the room in which we are sitting.

2. We have only ONE television set. No need to pay high cable bills.

3. We did a research and cut the home phone line completely. We are only using our cell phones. We save about $120.00 per month. And you can add your cell phone to your local police station for reverse 911 calls and emergencies.

4. We switch computers off at night and unplug everything from the walls. We managed to pay an average electric bill of $35 per month.

5. We never let the water run while brushing our teeth. It’s a waste

6. We use small space heaters and not the central heating unit, because this way we are warm where we sit and spend much less energy.

7. We eat out once every other month. The rest of the time, we socialize with our friends and share dinners at our homes. We are having so much fun.

8. We have a set grocery list and never “cheat”. We buy what we actually eat and never have to throw good food away. For a household of two, we pay no more than $850 per month for groceries, cleaning supplies, and cosmetics.

9. We have created a “wish” list of clothes, shoes and accessories, and we send it to our friends and family. We have decided that receiving what we need during Christmas and our birthdays, makes it easy on the people who want to buy gifts for us, and we almost spend zero on clothing anymore.

10. We don’t buy magazines. We can read everything we need online.

You can play with this list idea and you will see how much simpler your life will get and how much money you can save with little effort. We are very happy and wish you all the same! Life is about living happy and within our means.