Friday, September 28, 2012

Why It's So Hard Say "I Can't Afford It!"

Reposted from the Huffington Post

Why is it still so difficult to say those four little words?

That's the question journalist Veronia Dagher posed recently in the Wall Street Journal. After all, huge numbers of Americans are struggling financially at the moment; anyone having to cut back or do without has lots of company. Reuters broke the news last week that the second quarter of 2012 saw the most significant rise in household debt since 2008. Forbes reported that outstanding student loans together amounted to over $1 trillion in March 2012, and, according to the Washington Post, American consumers "are projected to finish 2012 with a net increase of $43.5 billion in credit card debt."

And yet, admitting that there's no room in your budget for that dinner or new outfit, or even a haircut or pedicure, sometimes feels so hard that you go ahead and spring for it anyway -- as those credit card debt numbers bear out.

The reason we can't just say "no," Carl Sword, a New York-based psychoanalyst told the Journal, is that the pressure to spend often comes from peers. Dagher wrote that "feelings of shame, embarrassment or a desire to avoid conflict are just some of the reasons folks won't say no."

Jezebel's Dodai Stewart suggested that women especially are pressured to spend on their appearances, clothes, and accessories, whether or not they have the means. Maintaining hair and nails, waxing, shaving, and other types of grooming can be expensive as well as time-consuming.

So, what would make it easier to stop spending outside your means? Sword suggested holding frank conversations with friends and family about the limits of your budget and also to beware purchasing too quickly, before you've had time to think it over. Another reason to get off those flash sale sites, right?

And it's best to avoid dishonesty, Brad Klontz, a Hawaii-based financial planner and financial psychologist told the Journal. Not wanting to reveal their financial struggles, people with limited means sometimes cancel frequently or make up excuses for declining pricey social invitations and end up alienating their friends in the process.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Make Up Must Haves for Under $10

by Diane McLelland, Fresh Start's resident 'Fashionista'

Looking good doesn’t have to cost a small fortune, and you don’t have to go to the expensive department store cosmetic counters to find good quality makeup! Really!

An informal office poll of colleagues confirmed that; favorites ranged from mascaras and lip gloss, to nail polishes and foundation.  Some of my co-worker’s  ‘have-to-have’ products (all of which can be found at your local drugstore, or at Costco, Target, Wal-Mart, or CVS) included Sally Hansen’s Instant Dry Nail polish, Revlon’s Colorstay lip liners and eyeliners, Full n’ Soft mascara by Maybelline, L’Oreal Voluminous Carbon black mascara, Cover Girl True Blend Makeup, Physicians Formula Circle Control Rx Concealer, L’Oreal Sublime Bronze self-tanning lotion as well as CVS’ brand of nail color, and a Kirkland’s (Costco brand) make-up kit with various products (ok, so the package itself costs more than $10, but each product singularly is much less than that, and such a deal)! Don’t forget about the cosmetic giant Ulta, which sells their house brand of individual cosmetics, many of which are under $10. I adore their eye shadows; they’re long lasting and Ulta offers a huge selection of colors to mix and match! Great holiday gifts can be found here as well as fun stocking stuffers- stock up early to ensure a great selection of merchandise.

I admit that I can’t live without an eyelash curler, and lengthening mascara, both of which can be found for under $10 each. At the moment, my favorite is Maybelline’s Turbo Volum’ Express.  As a former flight attendant, my makeup bag is always at the ready, as old habits…well, you know the rest. My bag contains several lipsticks, eyeliner, and lip gloss. You’d think I was still an international traveler…not true- but, it’s nice to freshen up if you’re on the go during the day.

Walgreen’s is a favorite haunt of mine for great bargains on makeup and skin care products. The cosmetic department is a haven for sales of all types, and if one of your favorite products doesn’t happen to be on sale, try the following week, or inquire about any products that you’re interested in. Sometimes the personnel know which lines will be going on sale next. The sales staff is usually quite knowledgeable, and they also keep manufacturer coupons on hand; however, usually you must inquire. They’re happy to help out. It’s easy and inexpensive to stock up on several lip glosses or eyeliners when you’re getting a ‘bogo’, or buy one, get one free! Target also offers a quality in-house line of cosmetics that sell for a mere fraction of the price of the pricey department store lines.

What goes on, must come off….makeup remover towelettes are a great way to remove makeup; a favorite cleanser of mine is Neutrogena’s Deep Clean Invigorating foaming scrub. While it’s not recommended that you use a scrub daily, you can alternate with some of the foaming washes and scrubs found in that price category.

Check out your grocery store sale bins, too, as I have found some fantastic sales on old season (not necessarily to be confused with old merchandise) cosmetic items. With regard to mascara, it is always recommended that you change out your mascara every 3 months, as bacteria can build up, causing eye irritation, and in some cases, styes or infections. And, it’s never a good idea to share mascara with a friend for that same reason.

Great deals can also be found on and they even offer ‘clickable’ coupons!

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, there are many quality makeup choices available for $10 or under. With fall upon us, it’s a good time to try out that bold new blush or eye shadow- go for it!
Happy bargain hunting!
It should be noted that we do not endorse any particular product featured in this article.
Diane McLelland has been called a fashionista from a young age, acquiring her love of a fashion after enrolling in Sears Charm School as a young girl.  After earning her degree in Fashion Merchandising and Business, she gained experience by appearing in movies, commercials, and magazine layouts in the Phoenix area, and worked as a flight attendant for over 15 years.  Diane considers herself to be a personal shopper as she shops for family and friends whenever possible.  She has written for a travel publication and numerous newsletters and currently works as a Career Services Advisor, assisting students find viable work in their chosen fields.  She has two grown sons, and along with dog Cooper and his two cats, resides in the Valley of the Sun - Phoenix AZ.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Save Money on Your Job Search

Top tips reposted from around the web

The cost of job hunting adds up!  Especially as you are keen to create a great professional impression on potential employers.  But if you are unemployed or just starting out in your career then finding money for your job search can be challenging.

Here are some tips on ways to save on your job hunt!

Find a Non-Profit Career Coaching Service

If you need career coaching but don't have the cash to pay for it, it is worth finding out if there is a non-profit organization in your area providing access to volunteer Career Coaches for free or at a reduced cost.

A Career Coach can keep your job hunt focused, work on a resume with you, and provide expert advice and support that will maximize your chances of securing a job.

If you live in the Phoenix area visit Fresh Start’s website for details on how to access free Career Coaching locally.

If there are no free or reduced cost services in your area then why not approach a local Career Coach and see if they are willing to barter for their services.  Perhaps you can offer them something in return for their time?

Use the Resources At Your Local Library

Libraries have subscriptions to paid online databases, and you can use this information for free. You can also access the Internet at no cost when doing company research.

And of course there is a wealth of books available at your local library covering everything you need to know to maximize your job search.

Along with visiting your county or city library, stop by local college libraries and see if you are able to access their resources for free.

Look out For Free Courses and Workshops

Search locally to find job training and one-stop career centers that are free as funded by your local government.  These centers offer computer and Internet access, as well as photocopy services.

As well as access to computers etc. these centers may offer free or low cost training courses and workshops.  Use these courses to fill gaps in your resume and improve your chances of getting hired

Contact your state's department of labor to locate centers in your area.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Your job search will most likely include a lot of travelling, to and from interviews, to your local library for research – all this travelling adds up in cost.

So plan ahead – use one day for making phone calls, the next for visiting the library, and the next for getting out and about to research potential employers.

Planning ahead like this will allow you to plan your travel routes and save on gas or public transportation costs.

Also it makes the most of your valuable time!

Find Free Access to the Internet

In order to job search these days it is essential to have access to the Internet.  But of course having this at home can cost a lot.  So scope out free internet access in your community – check out your local library as a starter.

You can also sign up for free e-mail accounts, such as Hotmail or Google Gmail – so that employers can get in contact with you via email.  Having an email account also shows an employer that you know something about computers!

You also want to be as contactable as possible – so make sure your cell phone payments are up to date as a priority.  If money is getting really tight and you can no longer afford a cell phone try to shop around for the best deal and consider dropping extra services that you don’t need. It is essential to at least have voicemail so employers can contact you or leave a message.

Save your receipts

Whenever you spend money on your job search, save all receipts -- you may need them at tax time as they may be tax deductible.

Such fees include the cost of preparing and mailing resumes and expenses related to employee outplacement services and travel. Be sure to record your mileage for each trip, including starting and ending odometer readings.

 IRS Publication 529 explains in detail which job search expenses can be deducted from your taxes, and what the requirements are.

Good luck on your Job Search!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Walking : Trim Your Waistline and Keep Healthy

Walking is a low-impact exercise with numerous health benefits. Here's how to get started.

Walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that can ease you into a higher level of fitness and health. Walking is a form of exercise accessible to just about everybody. It's safe, simple and doesn't require practice. And the health benefits are many. Here's more about why walking is good for you, and how to get started with a walking program.

Benefits of walking

Walking, like other exercise, can help you achieve a number of important health benefits. Walking can help you:

Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol)

Raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol)

Lower your blood pressure

Reduce your risk of or manage type 2 diabetes

Manage your weight

Improve your mood

Stay strong and fit

All it takes to reap these benefits is a routine of brisk walking. It doesn't get much simpler than that. And you can forget the "no pain, no gain" talk. Research shows that regular, brisk walking can reduce the risk of heart attack by the same amount as more vigorous exercise, such as jogging.

Preparation helps avoid injury

Walking isn't as likely to lead to injuries as other types of exercise. Still, take time to prepare yourself to prevent injuries, such as blisters or muscle pain.

Get the right gear
Be sure to wear comfortable footwear. Choose shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock. Before you buy a new pair, be sure to walk in them in the store.

Also dress in loosefitting, comfortable clothing and in layers if you need to adjust to changing temperature. If you walk outside, choose clothes appropriate for the weather. Avoid rubberized materials, as they don't allow perspiration to evaporate. Wear bright colors or reflective tape after dark so that motorists can see you.

Use proper technique
Walking is a great exercise because it's so simple to do. But using the correct posture and movements is essential.

Warm up
Spend about five minutes walking slowly to warm up your muscles. You can walk in place if you want. Increase your pace until you feel warm.

After warming up, stretch your muscles before walking. Include the calf stretch, quadriceps stretch, hamstring stretch and side (iliotibial) stretch.

Cool down after each walking session
To reduce stress on your heart and muscles, end each walking session by walking slowly for about five minutes. Then, repeat your stretches.

Getting started: Focus on the basics

As you get started, remember to:

Start slow and easy. If you're a seasoned walker, keep doing what you're doing. If you've been inactive and tire easily, it's best to start slow and easy. At first, walk only as far or as fast as you find comfortable. If you can walk for only a few minutes, let that be your starting point. For example, you might try short daily sessions of five to 10 minutes and slowly build up to 15 minutes twice a week. Then, over several weeks' time, you can gradually work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of walking most days each week.

Measure the intensity of your workout. As you walk, measure the intensity of your workout by checking your heart rate. Knowing your heart rate allows you to increase the intensity to maximize your workout or slow down to avoid overdoing it.

To find out if you're exercising within the range of your target heart rate, stop walking to check your pulse manually at your wrist (radial artery) or neck (carotid artery). Another option is to wear an electronic device that displays your heart rate.

Set goals and track your progress

The good news is that walking — even only a modest amount — provides health benefits. For maximum benefits, work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes a day within your target heart rate zone, most days of the week.

To achieve these benefits, it can help to set goals, track your progress and take steps to stay motivated.

Set realistic goals
If your goal is to walk two hours a day 365 days a year, you might be setting yourself up to fail. Set realistic goals for yourself, such as 30 minutes five days a week.

And you don't need to do it all at once. Build walking into your schedule today. For example, walk for 10 minutes on your lunch break.

Track progress
Keeping a record of how many steps you take, the distance you walk and how long it takes can help you see where you started from and serve as a source of inspiration. Just think how good you'll feel when you see how many miles you've walked each week, month or year.

Record these numbers in a walking journal you create for yourself or log them in a spreadsheet on your computer. Another option is to use an electronic device — such as a pedometer — to calculate time and distance for you.

Stay motivated

Starting a walking program takes initiative. Sticking with it takes commitment. But when you think of the potential health benefits, it's well worth your effort. Over time you'll likely feel more invigorated. To stay motivated:

Make it fun. If you don't like walking alone, invite your spouse, partner, friend or neighbor to join you. You might also join a health club and use a treadmill.

Vary your routine. Plan several different walking routes for variety. But if you're walking alone, be sure to tell someone which route you're taking.

Sometimes things happen to keep you from sticking to a regular walking program. Don't be too hard on yourself when this happens. You don't have to let a few days off sabotage your plan to reach a higher level of fitness and improved health. Just revisit your goals and get walking.

You'll be glad you started

Even though the first steps of any journey can be the most difficult, it helps to keep your goals foremost in your mind. So remember, once you take that first step, you're on the way to an important destination — better health.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Becoming Rich in Happiness Not $

By Ellen Diana

The quest for happiness is common in modern society but the path to attain it is elusive. This is because we often look to the externals in our lives – what we own, how we live, what we do – to determine our level of happiness. When we are challenged economically or financially, happiness seems unattainable which is disappointing and leads to feelings of anger, anxiety, or sadness.

Focusing on the external elements in your life will generate transient periods of happiness but focusing on your internal state of mind will build lasting happiness. This is because happiness is an internal state of being which is not dependent on your external environment.  For example, you’ll notice unhappy people who are competent, successful, and wealthy, while others who lead unexceptional lives can appear quite content.

To begin to develop your inner core of happiness, try these 10 suggestions:

1.       Work on being the best YOU that is possible without comparing yourself to others.

2.       Keep problems in perspective and avoid catastrophizing. Let go of small worries and distractions.

3.       Smile whenever possible.

4.       Judge people and situations with kindness and compassion. Practice forgiveness.

5.       Meditate daily by taking 15 minutes to notice your surroundings with your senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell.

6.       Nurture yourself in small ways every day: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Activities like eating a food you enjoy, reading a book, talking to a friend, or taking a walk in nature build simple life satisfaction.

7.       Accept the way things are, even while you may be planning on making some changes.

8.       Recognize that everyone in the world is more like you than not – everyone is drawn to pleasure and is trying to avoid pain.

9.       Perform whatever you do with enjoyment and motivation – don’t focus on being the best – avoid comparisons.

10.   Relax…..and slow down.


Developing your internal core of happiness takes time so be patient as you try these suggestions. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that they yield widespread benefits in your life. Your happiness is under your control!


Ellen Diana is a psychologist, author of the Lucky Dreamer Tip Series, and co-author of the Charge up Your Life series of self-help books. She has 30 years’ experience working with children, adults, couples, and families in schools and in private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona. Helping women to evolve into their best selves through personal growth and self-awareness is a passion of hers. Ellen raised three successful children as a single parent and so has special interests in mentoring other women in transition and helping parents to raise resilient children. Contact Ellen at or through her website

Friday, September 21, 2012

How I Got Financially Confident by Starting a Money Club

By Libby Kane – Reposted from
Do you ever talk about money with your friends?
Kate and Tara sure didn’t. At least, not until they became close.
Both of them were married, childless and living in Colorado, wondering where they were supposed to get answers to the tricky money questions:
·                     How do you roll over a 401(k)?
·                     Where should you allocate your money when you no longer have debt?
·                     How much do you need to save to adopt a child (an issue near Kate’s heart)?

They got into the habit of grabbing coffee and swapping articles, books and advice about their own money struggles, when they came across a contest held by TIAA-CREF, a big financial services company, looking for the next great idea to get Americans to save more.
 “We were really inspired by the idea of a money club,” they say, “where women could speak with other women going through similar financial experiences and empower each other.”
Kate had just gotten married and was wondering about her next steps: After ten years of working in public relations, would she continue on that path, start her own business or work as a consultant? Tara and her husband had just paid off all of their debt (outside of their mortgage) and were wondering: What next?
The two of them worked in similar industries and considered themselves just acquaintances for many years until meeting at an event in 2009. “All of a sudden, the universe put us in front of each other at a networking event, like we were meant to be together to solve problems and inspire,” Tara says. “We joke that it was friendship through fate and finances.”
Even before their money club was named a finalist in the contest, they got started.

How the Club Works

Tara and Kate submitted the idea to the contest in fall of 2010, but didn’t wait to hear back: Over the next two months, they reached out to friends and acquaintances who had talked about money with them in the past. “By the time our idea for a club beat 999 other ideas to win the people’s choice award in the contest, a group of about eight women were meeting on the first Tuesday of every month, alternating houses each time,” Kate shares.
Here’s how it works:
They Choose Topics: ”When we first started, we identified topics for discussion at each meeting,” says Kate. “Now, we invite experts whenever we can. This month, a mortgage broker is speaking, and recently, we heard from a retirement expert.” The women invite experts who have worked with friends and colleagues, so they know they’re bringing in someone great.
They Don’t Judge: “One girl is a foodie and loves to eat out. Another loves shopping—we all value different things and choose how we spend our money,” Tara says. “We also don’t mention specific dollar amounts. We talk in percentages of our budgets and salaries, so we don’t know what each other earns or owes. In our club, we applaud progress rather than numbers.”
They Have Fun: ”We have a rule that no one buys any snacks; whatever food you bring, you put together from your pantry or fridge,” Kate explains. “One time, we had apple pie because a member’s neighbor had gone apple-picking and gave her apples for free!” Each month they also have an exchange item, where they bring unwanted gifts like beauty products, books or magazines so everyone goes home with something new.
They Stay Involved: “One woman bought a desk and used it as an impetus to get organized. Another’s goal was to buy a car, and when she bought it, we all walked outside and saw her goal come to life. It was pretty cool to see it,” Tara says.
They Issue Challenges: In the past, challenges have included not spending for a week, reviewing their 401(k) investments and prospectuses, increasing those retirement contributions, selling things they don’t want anymore for extra cash and forgoing all restaurants for a month (which both women agree may have been the hardest!).

The Best Part of Having a Money Club Is …

“We call it a savings club, but it’s not saving money—it’s saving our sanity,” they explain. “We don’t let each other get overwhelmed by money issues.” Their group includes ten women, including lawyers, biologists, teachers, parents and non-parents. “The diversity of perspective shapes discussions,” they say. “As much as money is really hard to talk about, it’s also really fun.”
And the club has created change in their daily lives: Tara always felt underlying money anxiety from a childhood of “we can’t afford that”. She had a defining moment when her husband wanted to buy a dirt bike. Instead of her usual reprise, “We can’t afford that!”, the two of them researched the bike together, which, lo and behold, led to a discussion about life insurance, something the couple had never discussed before.
Tara and Kate agree that having honest conversations is really the greatest thing about the last two years. As Kate says, “It takes a lot of worry away knowing that there are people to be your cheerleaders.”
“Our advice to women who would like to create a similar group is to look at your network and figure out who you connect with, who you can nudge–and who can nudge you,” they say. “You don’t have to meet monthly. Just start doing whatever works … two of you meeting once a quarter is enough. Once we know we’re here to support each other, we can all start making changes.”
Want to know more about Kate and Tara’s money club? Check out their website here

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Get Involved in Your Community - It's Free and Good For You!

By Diane McLelland, Career Counselor
Look around you…then ask yourself, ‘Who needs my help today?’ That could very likely be step one in getting involved in your community. Really!

Keep in mind that many organizations and non-profits rely solely on donations and volunteers to survive.

You may not think that you alone can make a difference, but think again!

It’s easy to immerse ourselves in our own little world, and our own problems and concerns. We need to be mindful of our families and their well-being. But, look around and see who might need some assistance in your community. By giving of oneself with our talents and time, it’s amazing what you can accomplish, and how you can help others. By determining where your interests or talents lie, you could be a valuable asset as a volunteer!

Some people get involved in their community because they have children. For example, they may coach their son or daughter’s soccer team. Yet others find themselves getting involved in a cause, perhaps borne from an interest, or even an illness or accident of a loved one or themselves…still others develop a passion they may have wanted to pursue, and in doing so, they may be helping others.

You may want to exercise your creativity through the arts, non-profit organizations, or even a synagogue, church, or temple. Several worthy organizations that I have had personal experience with are my church and Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. I serve on the Courtesy team at my church, and also participate (as an actor) in the monthly Family Experience, or FX Live presentation. Places of worship often rely heavily on the contributions of the time and talent of members. I have met some amazing people there, and feel that in some small way I am making a difference. Getting involved in missions trips, or contributing financially so that others may take the trip are easy ways to get involved. I have also served as a class facilitator at a women’s organization, and have helped outfit women in career clothing in preparation for an interview or a new job. These rewarding experiences have allowed me to not only meet important and influential people, but to assist those who I am there to serve.

Perhaps you have always had a keen interest in politics. Why not volunteer for your party or candidate’s campaign? In a similar way, giving of your time or resources to a civic cause can be more far reaching than you may think.

Most people think that helping out at a shelter or food bank during the holidays is a great way to get involved, and while it certainly is, do keep in mind that help is needed 365 days per year. You could organize a group of friends to volunteer on a bi-monthly basis, or hand out water bottles during the summer at the local food bank. Habitat for Humanity always accepts assistance, whether you’re a semi-professional painter, or have never even used a hammer. There are always ways to get involved!
If you have an interest in acting or serving behind the scenes, perhaps getting involved in your local community theater is an option. I have a friend that volunteers as an usher at one of the theaters in our town, and the caveat is that it allows him to see all the plays!

Do you enjoy pets, but are unable to have one? Consider donating your time at a pet shelter. Organizations such as ‘Home Fur Good’ will train volunteers to act as dog handlers and adoption counselors. Shelters need people to walk dogs and clean pets’ quarters.

Visiting a retirement community or the ward of a children’s hospital is a great way to spend your time. One look at a grateful child will melt your heart, and make you realize how important a few moments of your time is to them. Reading to elderly patients in a group home may bring joy to the residents. You might also consider serving as a volunteer at your local hospital at the information desk or gift shop.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters is another important and worthy organization, as is the Boys and Girls Club. There are many diverse opportunities within those organizations that serve children.
Most cities host large events, and will advertise for help and train volunteers, and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people who share your passions.

Finally, there are those who are unable to physically serve others, but who give of their financial resources. I know a very dear woman who cannot idly watch the children in third world countries drink polluted ‘drinking’ water that animals are bathing in simultaneously. She gives from her heart, has been instrumental in the building of several water wells, and in turn, is getting involved in a global effort.

So, you see, getting involved is much more than donating a few spare hours on a Saturday—you may be changing lives unaware.

Check out our interactive courses, webinars, tools and resources available at
About the Author
Diane has been called a "fashionista" from a young age, acquiring her love of fashion after enrolling in Sears Charm School as a young girl. After earning her degree in fashion merchandising & business she gained experience by appearing in movies, commercials and magazine layouts. She also worked as a flight attendant for 15 years and wrote for a well-known travel publication. Diane currently works with students to provide career advisement and loves to act as a personal shopper on the weekends for her friends and family.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The 5 Best (and Worst) Things About Working From Home

Two years ago, thanks to a cross-country move, I made the switch from working in a large, bustling office to telecommuting from the guest room of my 1,000 square foot apartment. While I knew that I would love working in my Uggs and that I’d miss the constant interaction with my co-workers, I couldn’t fully appreciate all the perks or understand all the downsides of home office life until I’d lived it.
Thinking of trading your cubicle for the couch? Here’s the real scoop about working from home: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The 5 Best Things

1. You can work in your pajamas

Yes, it’s the most cliché working-from-home perk. But not having to put on a suit (or anything, for that matter) every morning is a huge plus. Aside from the mere comfort factor, not having to try on outfit after outfit, shave, curl, primp, and prime saves you a good five hours every week. Cut out the commute, and you’ve earned a full extra workday of time.

2. You avoid the drop-by

In an office, it’s hard to avoid the impromptu visit from your boss, the CEO, or the co-worker who wants to give you a play-by-play of his kid’s soccer practice. At home, you can avoid all this. Sure, you may get the phone call version—but if you’re too busy or not prepared, you can ignore it and call back later. “Sorry, I was on a call with a client” works every time.

3. You’ll never miss a FedEx package again

Not being tied to an office from 9 to 5 opens up an entirely new world when it comes to life maintenance tasks. Like being home to receive deliveries. Or going to the grocery store at 3 PM, actually finding a parking space, and not having to enter a fist fight over the last jug of non-fat milk. Small things. But amazing ones.

4. You can multitask in meetings

Calling in to a meeting rather than being there in person does not give you a free pass from participating; in fact, it’s even more important that you speak up. But there are, of course, those meetings that veer off track or that really only require your presence for a few minutes. And those are the times that working from home means that you can actually work instead of being tied up in meetings.

5. You can be loud and crazy

Are you at your most creative with Metallica blaring? Love doing yoga to think through a difficult situation? At home, you can sit on your Pilates ball, pace (or stomp) around, or live out any other crazy habit without your co-workers getting annoyed or, more importantly, thinking you’re insane.

The 5 Worst Things

1. There’s no water cooler

Working from home is really, really lonely. Sure, you can Skype, call, or IM, but nothing beats being in a room with someone and having pals to grab lunch with every day. But even more, being out of the office means that you miss all the elevator gossip, impromptu meetings in the hallway, and being fully in the know about what’s going on in your organization.

2. You never really leave the office

You know that good feeling you get when you leave the office building? That you’ve accomplished all you can for the day, and that everything and everyone else can wait until tomorrow? Forget about it. Since there’s really no difference between being in the office and being at home, the boundaries that your clients, co-workers, and boss would normally draw (like not calling at 9 PM on Friday night) are not extended anymore. You’re always on the job. Work, and all of its piles, are always there.

3. You never really leave the house

For all of the benefits of not having to go in to the office everyday, there’s also a major downside: you can turn into a hermit. Entire 12-hour periods can go by when you don’t see the light of day or actually speak to another person. Please, for your sake—and the sake of your spouse, partner, or roommate who may come home from his or her workday and actually want to be alone for a bit—go to Starbucks once in a while.

 4. There’s no IT department

In an office, the minute the Internet goes down or your computer gets a virus, you call the Help Desk, and it’s someone else’s problem. At home, it’s all you. Which means that you can waste several hours at a time waiting for the cable guy to show up or trying to explain your laptop’s problems to Customer Service. Yes, you’re the boss, but you’re also the IT guy, the courier, and the administrative assistant.

5. You need an insane amount of self-motivation

In an office, you might be tempted to update your Facebook status or browse the Banana sale, but being at home adds looming chores, the Wii, and your comfy bed to the list of appealing taboos. And without the threat of your boss walking down the hallway, it can take a huge amount of discipline to stay focused. Just because you can work from bed or take a couple of hours off here and there doesn’t mean you should. You’re going to need to draw some boundaries for yourself.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Upcycle Your Wardrobe

By Dawn Antestenis, Fresh Start

Upcycling simply means reworking old fabric and materials – taking something that would otherwise be trash or headed to Goodwill and turning it into something of greater value, unique, and usable again!

It is also a really inexpensive way to learn to sew, get creative, and be more unique in your own style!

Here are some top tips to begin you on your upcycling journey!

Choose the garment for Upcycling Carefully
-          pick something that you no longer wear
-          pick a piece of clothing made from a fabric that you love
-          check the quality and condition before you start

Go Online
-          there is an absolute wealth of tutorials and videos online with top tips and step by step upcycling tutorials showing you how to make an entire project from start to finish from a puff sleeve, to a pair of pants

Start Simple
-          there is no need to be overambitious when starting out – why not begin with switching up the buttons on a favorite jacket, or re-hemming the sleeves for a ¾ length look…
-          Remember to keep any excess fabric, buttons, and elastic when you take apart pieces of clothing – these can be used for simple and quick upcycling projects like fabric belts!

-          If you have an old cardigan that you love but feel that it has seen better days then why not sew on some patches to the elbows, or embroider a pretty motif – the possibilities are endless when you get creative with embroidery and embellishments!

Monday, September 17, 2012

5 Tips to Live Frugal

By Dawn Antestenis, Fresh Start

As many of us have to find creative ways to live well on a tight budget frugal is a word that suddenly means a lot. 

The good news is that it’s not all bad news. 

There are some real upsides to living a more frugal lifestyle.  If you spend less, there is less pressure to earn large sums of money, and you may have money left over at the end of the month to pay off debt, save or invest.  Also, not having money for the more expensive things in life gives you the chance to reconnect with the good free stuff that life has to offer : time with family; being outdoors; reading…the list goes on.

So if you find yourself in the position of having fewer dollars coming in each month but still want to live the good life then here are a few tips that can help you spend less and get more for your $s.

Tip 1:  Become a 1 car family or invest in a smaller car

The benefits are clear: less $ on gas; cheaper monthly payments; and the environment will say thank you too.

Tip 2:  Downsize your home

A smaller house means less $ on utilities, cheaper mortgage or rent, and with less space there are fewer temptations to fill your home with ‘stuff you don’t need’.

Tip 3:  Consider buying used first

The popularity of thrift stores is on the rise – there are real treasures to be found in amongst all the bargains.  And consider asking family and friends if they have the item you are looking for to borrow or maybe they no longer need it – much cheaper than rushing out to buy a new one!

Tip 4:  Eat out less

This can be a hard one, especially when it is wired into our habitual behavior.  It is estimated the average American spends more than $2000 a year on eating out – so there is a lot of money to be saved through eating at home more, taking a packed lunch to work, and saving eating out for special occasions.

Tip 5: Only shop for what you need

It happens to us all, we are feeling down and think a shopping trip will cheer us up.  Unfortunately it is these times that we come home from the store with impulse buys that we will never wear.  So only visit the mall and your local stores when you have a reason to be there, to buy something you need.  Make your purchase and get out!