Design A Budget Which Works For You

Copyright: akkamulator

Not too long ago, I went shopping at a retail home goods store with a good friend. When we approached the checkstand, my friend experienced a bit of sticker shock, because she kept adding things to her cart and hadn’t kept track of how much she was spending. When I suggested that she might want to review what she had in her cart and perhaps pare down, she responded with, “Well, it will somehow work out. I still have some room on my credit card.” We kept chatting as the sales clerk rang up my friend’s items, and she continued with, “I never know how much I have in my checking account, and I don’t keep a budget, so I always hope and pray that I make it each month.” By this time I was cringing at what my friend was saying, and I also became very concerned for her financial health.

If you are like my friend and choose to throw caution to the wind by refusing to follow a structured budget, you have signed up for a rocky financial future. You may argue that you have the same fixed expenses each month, such as mortgage/rent, cell phone, and your car payment, and that you somehow always know approximately how much you spend on groceries and fuel for your car, but if I challenged you and asked you to itemize those expenses, I would bet that there is some overspending occurring. If you are also forgetting about discretionary expenses like a regular Starbuck’s habit, or even worse, you are neglecting retirement savings or contributions to an emergency fund, then you are skating on very thin ice indeed.

You might be thinking, “But I don’t know how to make a budget!” The whole idea of sitting down and creating a budget may sound daunting, but all it entails is writing down all of your income sources for each month, then creating a separate list of all of your monthly expenses. Once you have the basic framework of your regular expenses, you can add in your occasional expenses, such as personal care items (haircuts, etc.), auto insurance, upcoming vacations, etc. so that you are aware of the need to cover them. If you really dig deep, you will probably encounter hidden expenditures you weren’t completely aware of, such as streaming movie rentals, outdoor dining, or even online subscriptions which you might have forgotten about.

Once you have determined how much money is coming in each month, and how much money must be spent on fixed and variable expenses, you can see which expenses are unnecessary or frivolous, and you can also determine what other financial goals for which you can earmark part of your income. Examples of good financial goals are the following:

  • Paying off credit card debt (make sure that you add your monthly payments into your monthly budget!)
  • Vacation plans
  • Retirement planning
  • Adding to an emergency fund

Once your budget is completed, make sure to refer to it at least once a month, and as you reach certain financial goals (especially paying off credit card debt), you can make adjustments to your budget. Funds which were previously being funneled in one direction can be redirected to another goal, such as cushioning your retirement accounts or emergency fund. I can’t stress enough how important it is to focus on eliminating any credit card debt, because nothing erodes financial security more than this type of debt. Think about it: if you are paying 19.9% APR on a credit card balance of $2,000, that means that the credit card company is making an extra $400 in a year (this is a very rough estimate, since you would be making payments each month on that original balance). The other problem is that most people will add to a credit card balance, which pushes you into deeper debt. With credit card debt, it’s like taking one step forward and two steps back, so if you have credit card debt, HELOC’s, or another high interest debt, your primary focus should always be on aggressively paying those balances down. Once you are free from credit card debt, I strongly recommend that you curtail usage of any credit cards and use cash or a debit card instead.

When you stick to your budget, you may be surprised by how much it will improve your financial picture. A budget establishes a framework which enables you to move towards financial goals you might never have thought you could ever reach. Another great thing about an effective budget is that it doesn’t have to be static, so as your goals change and you reach certain markers, you can make adjustments to further fortify your financial position.

The Men Who Built America – Financial Titans

When I was a child, American history was taught in a very static manner.  We were expected to memorize important dates and factoids, to the point where epic points in history like the Industrial Revolution, though pivotal and vital to the development of America, seemed dull and uninteresting.  It took imaginative historical books which I have read over recent years, and shows such as “The Men Who Built America”, for a keen interest in American history to ignite within me.

Most recently, I stumbled upon “The Men Who Built America” right around Halloween when I was searching on Amazon Prime Video for an entertaining show to watch. What caught my eye was the fact that the television series was described on IMDB as a miniseries which “shines a spotlight on the influential builders, dreamers and believers whose feats transformed the United States, a nation decaying from the inside after the Civil War, into the greatest economic and technological superpower the world had ever seen. The Men Who Built America is the story of a nation at the crossroads and of the people who catapulted it to prosperity.”  Those words were enough to draw me in.

The focus of this series centers around the lives of Cornelius VanderbiltJohn D. RockefellerAndrew CarnegieJ. P. Morgan, and Henry Ford.

Check out these descriptions of the episodes:

1 “A New War Begins” Ruán Magan David C. White, Keith Palmer October 16, 2012
Cornelius Vanderbilt grows from a steamboat entrepreneur to the head of a railroad empire, and gets into a heated rivalry with James Fisk and Jay Gould; the up and coming John D. Rockefeller founds Standard Oil. Many business owners lay their own rail lines which leads to the Panic of 1873. Later, Rockefeller starts to expand his wealth by diverting his business from the railroads to a new innovation, oil pipelines.
2 “Bloody Battles” Patrick Reams David C. White, Keith Palmer October 23, 2012
Andrew Carnegie builds an empire around steel, but finds himself struggling to save face after the ruthless tactics of his business partner, Henry Clay Frick, result in both the Johnstown Flood as well as the bloody 1892 strike at the Homestead Steel Works.
3 “Changing the Game” Patrick Reams David C. White, Patrick Reams, Keith Palmer October 30, 2012
J. P. Morgan proceeds to banish the dark with the direct current electric light of Thomas Edison, but the two soon face serious competition from the alternating current of George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla. As the 19th century comes to a close, the titans of industry must try to work together to stop a new threat in budding politician William Jennings Bryan, who threatens to dissolve monopolies in America.
4 “When One Ends, Another Begins” Patrick Reams David C. White, Keith Palmer November 11, 2012
Rockefeller, Carnegie and Morgan team up to help elect William McKinley to the U.S. presidency by paying for his 1896 campaign, to avoid a possible attack on monopolies. However, fate intervenes when McKinley is suddenly assassinated, and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt assumes the presidency and promptly begins dissolving monopolies and trusts in America. Meanwhile, Morgan buys out Carnegie Steel to make Carnegie the richest man in the world, and Henry Ford designs an affordable automobile with his Model T and starts his own business, Ford Motor Company, which sets a new business model for companies to follow.

It was mostly my interest in finance which locked me into this series, but I also truly enjoyed learning about the historical impact which these great men had on a sophomore nation.  If you’re looking for a great series which is relatively short (you could binge watch this over a weekend), then this is for you.

6 things to DO during CoronaVirus

Want to know how to survive the current global pandemic? Then read on!

The world has been isolated, stunned, more than we’ve seen, more than a jubilee, since WWII. This villain is different, this is a villain we can’t see, reason with, hear, and no nation in the world can build an army against. This is an epidemic that does not care about religion, race, creed, origin, or color.

Everyone has been touched, from the sanitation worker to neurosurgeons.

 

The silver lining?

 

For the first time in history, everyone is on the same level. This is an amazing chance to get ahead while the world is in the twilight zone. 

Fortunately, a big advantage between now and any previous plague is that we have the connection of the internet to learn, fuel, earn, communicate, and live.

Especially in Canada and the USA, NOW is when to get ready for when the world wakes up once again. Now is the time to learn and improve your skills.  It is the best way to protect yourself and your future. 

Remember, the world may be very very different post corona and the internet may become more of a mainstay, even for low tech companies. 

 

Do you like internet marketing? Learn  SEO, PPC, Email Marketing.

 

Are you attracted to content? Learn how to create engaging and impactful content.

 

Are you interested in art? Learn how to bring amazing creations to life, even digitally.

 

This is not an affiliated promotion (I just write articles) , there are tons of amazing training sites offering hand holding guides. Our favorite is Udemy.com,  a world renowned course site where you can learn everything from marketing to woodcrafts.   

 

Let’s be super clear: 

 

GET OFF NETFLIX – IMPROVE YOUR FUTURE

 

This is the time for action. 

 

Check it out: https://www.udemy.com/

 

You can also check out our digital marketing consulting opportunities here

So what will happen post virus?

 

Impossible to know, we don’t know the timeline, how depleted resources will be or what ongoing new laws will have to be taken on. 

However, people don’t change, you, your family, community, and the globe as a whole. 

85% of businesses are now in peril, and it’s not going to see improvement until the pandemic passes. The worse it gets, the more panicky the response will be as human survival instinct kicks in. 

This is why you need to be ready, educated, and ready to be at the top of the hiring list when its all over.  Now is the time to learn and start using those skills online for yourself or companies looking to work virtually for now. 

Key is to have a post virus, have an education, online experience, and business under your belt, your keys to success in turning this difficult time into a life changing opportunity.

 

Think positive!

 

“Ok, I’ll do it  – but I need money now too!”

 

Yes, this is why you gotta get online and start working as well. If there was no web, there would be chaos, BUT, fortunately we’re all just as connected as we were before (maybe a little more cabin fever). The funny quip in the business world is that “Now we can see how many of those meetings could have been emails after all”. 

Translating that, it means  that a significant percentage of jobs can be done from anywhere, and at the moment, the best option for millions.

So – to survive this, for your physical, spiritual health, and overall wellness, do the following:

  1. Update your Resume (especially with remote work)
  2. Apply to jobs on Monster.ca,  LinkedIn etc, and go freelance online, sites like https://www.upwork.com/ 
  3. Search in your local community groups
  4. Start a blog (like this one!)
  5. Creative? Try Etsy!

Everyone  has something to provide another, it’s the wonderment of the person, the miracle of the internet allows you to make yourself known. 

 

DOUBLE Your Conversions in 90 Days | Conversion Rate Optimization Agency

I’m A Jasmin Influencer!

I am so thrilled to be a Jasmin Influencer!  I have been with them since early December, and I have a blast creating highlights for the site and posting every day.  Yes that’s right, every single day, even on holidays and weekends!

Please follow me at www.Jasmin.com/staceynaito  and check out my highlights and daily story elements!  You can also direct message me anytime through the site, and I also make myself available for Video Calls for a pocket of time every day.

Topics I cover include:

Dating

Relationship

Soul Mate

Fitness

Flirt Advice

Beauty

Lifestyle

Travel

Fashion

I haven’t posted anything on Dance, but who knows?  I may talk about my three year stint with salsa dancing on the Jasmin platform!

You can sign up for FREE and get 15 FREE CREDITS!

 

I am also always open to suggestions on topics which you would like to have me cover.  Want more nutrition tips?  Beauty hacks?  Travel deals? Relaxation techniques?  On the go workouts?  You tell me, I’m open!

Healthy Living Tips for Seniors on a Fixed Income

Please check out this fantastic article, written by Karen Weeks, which is full of tips on how to live healthy and strong as a senior on a fixed income!

by Karen Weeks – Elderwellness.net
karen@elderwellness.net


Image by Xevi Casanovas via Unsplash

As you get older, it’s more important than ever to make your health a priority. Unfortunately for seniors living on fixed incomes, a healthy lifestyle can seem financially impossible. Nutritious ingredients, fitness classes, and other healthy living resources don’t come cheap. When money is limited, it’s hard to find room in your budget.

Forgoing healthy habits may save money in the short-term, but it costs seniors in the long-run. A healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to prevent chronic illness, and if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re more likely to develop health problems that are costly to manage.

That’s why it’s so important to adopt healthy habits now, no matter your budget. If you’re a senior living on a fixed income, these tips will help you stay healthy without spending a lot.

Eating Well

Learn how to grocery shop on a budget
If you look at the price of packaged organic goods, healthy foods can seem out of reach. Instead of worrying about organics, focus on eating a diet high in vegetables of any (and every!) type. If fresh vegetables are too expensive, frozen vegetables are just as nutritious without the sodium content of canned goods. Dried beans, whole grains, frozen fruit, canned fish, and eggs are more cheap and healthy foods. Avoid frozen meals. While they seem like a good value, most frozen dinners are high in sodium and saturated fat.

Make use of food assistance programs
If you find yourself skipping meals or eating poorly to save money, look into food assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels is an especially helpful resource if you live alone and have trouble leaving your home.

Staying Active

Get cleared for exercise
It’s safe for most older adults to exercise, but it’s still wise to talk to your doctor. Your annual wellness visit is a good time to ask if you should take precautions before starting an exercise program. Keep in mind, however, that Medicare’s annual wellness visit doesn’t include a full physical. You may owe a copay if your doctor recommends bloodwork or other tests to clear you for exercise.

Exercise at home
There’s a lot of exercise seniors can do in the comfort of their homes. Basic strength and balance exercises, important for senior fall prevention, require minimal space and no special equipment. Use these 14 exercises from Philips Lifeline to get started.

Join a senior center
Do you prefer the camaraderie of group exercise? Senior centers offer tons of activities for older adults, including exercise classes like tai chi, yoga, and Zumba. Not only that, but all of a senior center’s services are available free or low-cost. No matter where you live, there’s likely a senior center in your neighborhood.

Getting Help at Home

Apply for the Assisted Living Waiver Program
If you need caregiving but don’t want to move into a nursing facility, consider assisted living. Under the Assisted Living Waiver Program, California seniors receiving Medi-Cal benefits can receive a reduced rate for assisted living. With facilities in California having a median cost of $54,000 annually, that’s a valuable benefit. However, not all facilities participate, so it’s important that seniors understand how to research assisted living facilities. Online search tools are a good place to start looking for a facility that meets your needs, but once you find one you like, you’ll need to check if it participates in the waiver program.

Get a roommate
Unfortunately, not every senior who needs help affording care qualifies for a waiver. If you could use help at home but don’t need nursing home-level care, consider a roommate. A roommate can be a housemate who splits the bills or someone who provides housekeeping and companionship in exchange for reduced rent.

Living on a fixed income forces you to get creative with your money, but it shouldn’t stop you from living well. If you’re having trouble affording the things you need to stay healthy, reach out to your Department of Aging and Adult Services to learn what resources are available to you.

Enough With The Retirement Talk!

Copyright: pinkomelet

Almost every time I look at my computer these days, I’ll see at least one featured article on Yahoo! which discusses retirement.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it happens almost daily, and it’s making me mental.  

I know the population is aging, and that baby boomers and GenX’ers are trying to prepare and plan for their golden years, but this is getting ridiculous.  The media and the internet have unabashedly latched onto the subject, and now there is a constant barrage of anxiety-provoking articles with headlines and titles such as: 

Do you have what you will need to retire?

Are you prepared for your golden years? 

Beware of the pitfalls of investing in an IRA

Watch out for these “retirement killers” 

I’ll read one article which sets me at ease, because I am on track with what it says I need to do.  Then the next day I’ll read an article which either contradicts what I read the previous day, or which has such a doomsday vibe that it basically states that almost everyone is in danger of not having enough money to ever retire.  Does this mean that we will all be living under freeway overpasses, eating dog food?  

Honestly, all these articles seem to do is to stir up worry which affects how I function throughout the day.  And though I can try to let it go, the next day another article will appear which will wash away my feelings of security and accomplishment regarding my retirement portfolio.   

Who else has noticed this trend?

Looking For Fitness, Wellness, and Life Inspiration?


If you are looking for that fire which will encourage you to reach out towards your fitness, wellness and life goals, then be sure to tune into the motivating, inspiring podcasts at https://micro.fit/ where the motto is, “For big results, think small”. That’s right…small changes in your lifestyle can create dramatic results in your life!

I am honored to be one of the featured podcasters for this wonderful app! My podcast runs on Fridays, so be sure to check it out each week for new topics and fresh perspectives on life balance, goal setting, motivation and fulfillment.

Click on this link to access the podcast page directly:

https://micro.fit/podcasts

Working For Free – REPOST

bloggers-working-free

Have you ever completed a work project which offered no compensation except for a pat on the back? If so, did it bother you? It should have. By agreeing to slave away (pun definitely intended here) at an assignment with full awareness that you would receive absolutely no monetary compensation, you just devalued yourself.

I am not talking about volunteer work, or favors which you offer to do for a family member or friend. I am also not talking about getting your feet wet by taking on a task in an unfamiliar area so that you can gain valuable experience. I am instead referring to situations in which you are asked to provide your knowledge, expertise and service in an area in which you excel, and are coaxed into it with the promise that it’s a one-time favor, or that there will be compensation sometime in the future, only to discover that the promise was in fact a lie.

As a result of my abiding loyalty to companies, friends, family, and pets, I am the type of person who never leaves. You can count on me, and I honor my word. One of my faults is that I assume that other people are the same way, and even when I can plainly see that I am being taken advantage of, I often still hang on. This type of behavior spilled over into the world of medicine, wellness and fitness for a while, but a couple of years ago, I cut off all of the companies and individuals who got too much of a good thing for too long, essentially my time, services and knowledge for free.

In one situation, one company asked me to provide professional services on a monthly basis, stating that it would be unpaid to start out with, but that compensation would be given after a few months. Next thing I knew, I had provided those services free of charge for eighteen months! When I fired a warning shot, essentially stating that I no longer wanted to work for free, the company responded by inferring that the “exposure” I was receiving from them was payment enough. The funny thing is, I didn’t need the exposure, nor was this company in a position to help me. I merely agreed to the arrangement as a temporary favor to them, sort of a good faith move. All it ended up doing was getting me stuck in a monthly obligation which I got zero benefit from doing. Once I realized this, I severed ties immediately. Though I used very professional and polite language, it felt so good to tell them that I was done being an indentured servant. No longer did I have to put their assignments in my calendar, or resent the fact that each one of those assignments chewed up a good hour or two of my time.

More recently, I agreed to complete an assignment for free simply because I found it intriguing, and I had a small pocket of time in which to complete the assignment. I also felt that it was a good way to introduce my skill set to the company. However, I made it very clear that the assignment was isolated, and that if the company wanted my services in the future, I would only consider paid assignments.

Time is money, and because I hold a medical degree and a bachelor’s degree, am a board certified physician, and have worked in the fitness industry for three decades, I have value which deserves proper compensation. Would you like to work for free, especially if it is in an area in which you have expertise? Let’s face it, we all need to find a way to bring money in. We have skills, we have knowledge, and we deserve to get a financial return for services rendered in our chosen work environment.

If you are the type of person who has a tendency to take on more than your schedule can handle, perhaps it’s time to evaluate your obligations and see if any of them are a threat to your self-worth. If they are unpaid, uncontracted, require your skills in an area in which you are considered an expert, and are contributing to a decline in your quality of life because they are a time burden, then you should consider dropping those obligations.

Don’t Let Fear Rule You

Stacey Naito Japanese Warrior

We can often be our own worst enemies, laying sabotage upon our own best efforts. The basis of such subterfuge is our own fear-based collection of thoughts, and can be more damaging than any efforts made by others to trip us up. What’s the solution? Banish your fears!

Before you allow that monstrous pull of trepidation pull you into the muck, get into the habit of replacing every single negative and self-defeating thought you have with a positive, hope-filled one.

Yes, every single one.

Perhaps you are doubting your ability to complete a massive work project, and you find yourself grappling with the feeling that you won’t be able to complete it in time, or that you will do a shoddy job because you feel rushed. Instead of feeding that insecurity, tell yourself:

I CAN do this. I WILL do this.

Do this repeatedly until it begins to sink in. Allow your positive thoughts to take up space in your mind, so much so that they push out the negativity.

The last thing you should ever do is to knock yourself down. Someone who is bound and determined to succeed quickly learns how to push away negativity from haters, and never allows a bad day to destroy the success plan which is in place. Successful people have a can-do, will-do attitude which has very little to do with overall intelligence, talent, or opportunity.

So stop beating yourself up, push away the haters, and go for your goals!

Keeping Pace With A Crazy Schedule

George Kontaxis shoot

The last few weeks have been NUTS. I am talking about day after day of so many shifts in my schedule and demands on my time, that I am torn in many different directions, and cannot focus on a darned thing. When this kind of chaos ensues, I begin to lose items, certain basic vocabulary terms escape me, and I feel like I am rushing by everything and everyone, like a bullet train zooming through a bustling cityscape.

For the life of me, I can’t find a gray tank top which I had recently purchased and put…somewhere. I honestly can’t remember where. This isn’t like me, because I am VERY organized, to the point of having all of my clothing organized by color, sleeve length, etc. So why can’t I find that gray top?

I literally run around in my bedroom, grabbing for clothes, rushing, trying to keep up with the stressful demands of being in so many places all the time. It’s starting to get old. Forget about having time to read a book, or watch a TV show, because by the time the dust settles from the crazy days I have been flying through, the notion of blissful sleep is so seductive that I don’t want to do anything else.

What keeps me from unraveling is the consistency I demand with my eating habits and my workouts. I am not joking about this. Despite the insane schedule I have been juggling lately, I still weight train six mornings each week. I attend lyra class one to two evenings during the week. My meals consist of clean foods like chicken breast, salmon, tilapia, green beans, asparagus, brown rice, quinoa, avocado, almonds, oats, and Greek yogurt. I have been drinking plenty of alkaline water. I have also been consistent about consuming MitoXcell every morning (I LOVE this supplement and intend to post more about it when I get a chance to breathe!), and I also take my regular supplements (like turmeric, CoQ10, folic acid, etc.) daily. My energy levels have been decent, and my mood has been generally great, with only a couple of stark exceptions.

There are two days next week which I have designated as clean up and organization days, and I desperately need them. During those days, I will perform the deep cleaning throughout most of the house which the housekeeper always neglects, I will reorganize cabinets and drawers, clean up the garage and patio, and find that gray top!