Friday, November 30, 2012

6 Money-Saving Tips That Will Blow Your Mind

Reposted from Daily Muse
There are plenty of ways to save money— make a budget, spend less, cook dinner instead of doing take-out again—and if you’re trying to cut your expenses, you’ve probably tried (or at least heard about) them all. But even for those of you who’re already doing all the right things, here are a few more uncommon tricks to saving a few bucks here and there.

1. Make a Food Calendar to Stop Wasting It

Be honest: How often do you realize that you let your milk, leftovers, or veggies go bad? Your secret is safe with me,  but know that every time you throw out that (gross, mushy, smelly) expired food, you’re throwing away money.

If you do this often, I recommend putting a calendar on your fridge, with a pen tied to it for easy access. When you return from the store and put your groceries away, write down the date your milk will go bad (“November 27: Milk expires”) or how long you have to eat those chicken breasts. What I love about this is that it serves for good dinner inspiration—“Oh, I have to eat those mushrooms and that chicken” can lead to Thai Chicken Coconut Soup with mushrooms if I’m inspired, or a simple chicken breast with sautéed mushrooms if it’s been a long day.

2. Use Ingredients That’ll Grow Back

I know this might sound crazy, but instead of throwing out—or even composting—your kitchen scraps, look into what can actually regenerate. By putting the root of lemongrass in a glass jar with a little water or re-planting the end of your onions, you can (almost magically) end up with free food! In fact, there are at least 16 food that will grow back from the bits and pieces you have leftover.

3. Choose Your Heat Source Wisely

In the winter, use your oven as often as you can find the excuse to. It’ll keep your home toasty, while reducing the need for another heat source (which you likely need to pay for). Conversely, in the summer, using your microwave instead of your oven will keep the temperature (and A/C bills) from skyrocketing.

4. Stop Buying Fabric Softener

I love soft fabrics as much as the next lady, but instead of spending money on all those expensive brands, you can make wool dryer balls that serve the same purpose. Two extra incentives to try this simple craft: You can pick whatever scent you want by adding essential oils, and you’ll cut your dryer time by 25-50%, cutting costs yet again!

5. Let the Internet Tell You When to Buy

Unless you’re buying things at the last minute (which is almost always more expensive and gives you fewer options—so don’t do it!), you have lots of choice as to what to buy and when. Try sites like Have to Have to tell you when clothing items go on sale, Kayak to get fare alerts on flights, or CamelCamelCamel to create wish lists and get notifications when items from Amazon are discounted. Why pay $150 for those boots if you could pay $90, right?

6. Get Your Car Into Shape

According to The Simple Dollar, “a clean air filter can improve your gas mileage by up to 7%, saving you more than $100 for every 10,000 miles you drive in an average vehicle.” That just seems like a no brainer, especially how easy it is to clean your filter with just a vacuum cleaner.

And while you’re in the get-more-mileage-out-of-your-car sort of mood, make sure to pump up your tires to the recommended level. Most car tires are actually five to 10 PSI below the normal level, so you could be improving your gas mileage by up to 3-4%!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Top Tips for Financial Fitness

Written by Dawn Antestesnis, Fresh Start blogger

This month on we have been providing resources and articles all about Financial Fitness - designed to support you on your journey to financial stability.  Here are a few tips that have stood out for me!

  • Start an emergency fund bank account today

  • Be aware of your credit - visit for a free copy of your credit report - then do some research on how to build and maintain good credit

  • Always keep an eye out for ways you can supplement your income - multiple income streams can provide greater financial security

  • Find out more about identity theft and make sure you and your money are protected

  • Write down exactly what you spend money on for the next 30 days - begin the journey of understanding what you spend money on and what is important to you

  • Always think of ways you can save money!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How To Be Ready For An Emergency (Financially)

Reposted from

Even beyond the swath of destruction left by Hurricane Sandy, the storm was a reminder of how the unexpected can completely wipe away homes and possessions. Managing finances is one of the key challenges people face in the aftermath of such a disaster.

Handling the financial aspects of an emergency starts with preparation, and continues with a few common sense steps to be taken as soon as possible after the crisis.

Emergency financial preparations

Here are some steps to take before a disaster strikes:

Prepare an emergency fund. Have a savings or money market account set up to cover the potential for unexpected expenses and/or loss of income during an emergency. A good savings target to shoot for is six month’s worth of your ordinary expenses.

Set up automatic payments where possible. One benefit of automatic bill payments is that they can help keep you up-to-date on your financial obligations even when your normal routine has been completely disrupted.

Make copies of key records. A fireproof safe is a good place to keep photocopies of your credit cards, driver’s license and automobile titles, as well as records of savings accounts, checking accounts and other deposits or investments you own. If you can keep an extra set of records off site, it can be a good idea as long as the location is secure — remember, this is highly sensitive information you don’t want falling into the wrong hands. Cloud computing raises other storage possibilities, as long as you can work through the security concerns.

Keep insurance contact information numbers on your person. People often keep car insurance information handy, but you should make sure you have access to home insurance information if your house becomes inaccessible. Also, it’s good to have contact info for both your local agent and a national claims number. After all, in the event of a natural disaster, your local agent’s office may be in as much of a mess as your home.

When a disaster strikes

Once a disaster occurs, here are some steps to take:

Contact your insurance company promptly. Claims take time to process, so you want to get the clock started as soon as possible.

Get your mail forwarded. You need to make sure you have a means of receiving important financial information that may be coming in the mail.

Manage your payments. Some of those automatic payments may not be relevant if you are deprived of your home for a while. Conserve your resources by changing your instructions at the bank to make only the payments you are still obligated to make.

Contact your creditors if necessary. If you are unable to pay some bills, contact those creditors immediately with an explanation of the situation. This can earn you more latitude than simply defaulting on your obligations.

After things settle down a little, you need to go back to the start of the list–that is, starting to save for another emergency. Even in the wake of a disaster, you never know what will happen next.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Discover Your Real Priorities - It's Where You Spend Your Money

Reposted from

If you really want to know what is important to you take a peek at where you spend your money. Here’s the thing, by itself money has no use and no power. It is only a tool to create the life you want to live. How you spend it is a reflection of who you are and your relationship with money is a mirror of your relationship to yourself.

When you look into this mirror, do you like what you see?
Or, is it a fractured image of who you truly want to be?

During this wayward economy I see more and more people coming up with the socially acceptable excuse of “I don’t have the money” or “I can’t afford it” to avoid looking deeply and making changes that would bring them the personal and professional lives they truly desire. To make the changes that would bring long-term and lasting results to their businesses, their lives, and their families. It sounds cliché to say that life is not a dress rehearsal, but it is true. There is no “someday” and if you’re waiting for it, now is the time to stop.

This way of thinking is not about spending with reckless abandon. It is not about being irresponsible, but rather being fully conscious about the fact that money is a conduit for commitment and you are in charge.

Are you ready to be in the driver’s seat of your experience and stop the cycle of having money hold you hostage? If so… let’s get started.

Here’s an exercise that will catapult you forward. I first did a similar exercise myself decades ago when I read the book Your Money or Your Life that was very enlightening to me, especially as a twenty something at the time. It has fueled my choices ever since.

Take a look at every dollar you have spent over the last month. If you don’t have great records (meaning you know you had money but you don’t know where it went), don’t fret you can start this exercise today by writing down every dollar you spend over the next 30 days. (Hint: even if you have great records looking backwards, I still recommend writing down your spending for the next 30 days. This exercise is one easy and proven way to raise your consciousness around money fast.)

Now, take a look at your spending. I want you to do this with a loving, nonjudgmental heart. There is no right, wrong, or judgment with this sort of assessment; because ultimately there is no inherently right or wrong way to spend your money.

Ask yourself:

How do I feel about what I see before me?

Does my spending reflect my true and deep values? (If you’ve never done a values exercise, it is an invaluable step in creating the life and work you want.)

Has every dollar I spent either: Satisfied a basic need? Benefited another? Brought me great joy?

Does how I spend my money reflect an equitable balance between living fully today and investing in my future?

What did you discover about your priorities? Are you fully investing in the person you want to be and the life you want to create or are you letting your precious energy slip away?

Regardless of how much money you have, today is the day to stop being held hostage by it and choose to be the conscious steward of it. There is no better investment out there than the one you make in your own growth and well-being.


Monday, November 26, 2012

5 Ways Your Resume is Like a Marriage Proposal

Written by Dani Mattisinko, Career Coach and Resume Expert


Engagement rings are not one size fits all. Your job search strategy shouldn’t be generic either - especially your resume.

When my husband proposed marriage, if the ring he chose didn’t fit, I would have answered “no.” Occupational hazard. Allow me to explain.

As a Human Resources professional, I’m trained to think like hiring managers do. In this case, I’d think if my husband-to-be can’t figure out my ring size, how much effort will he put forth in the marriage?


Here are 5 steps to customize your resume like a marriage proposal

Step 1. Become a detective

Did my husband-to-be sneak into my jewelry drawer and get my ring size? Snooping, err...research, is the key to selecting the right words for your resume.

Research your employer-to-be. Search beyond the “About Us” page on their website. Use sources like Linkedin and Twitter to get clues about your target company, their employees, and even competitors.

Learn as much as you can before you show, in writing, why you’re the best fit.

Step 2. Get help from your best friend

Having the official job description is like having your best friend help select your engagement ring. Both increase the odds you’ll get what you’re hoping for.

Use the job description to match the employer’s vocabulary. Is the job title “Client Services Representative?” Refer to people as clients instead of customers. Voila! Do you have Client Services experience? Of course you do! I bet you’ve used communication skills to resolve conflicts! Make your background relevant.

Focus on the skills and experience that the job description states is desirable.

Step 3. Prove you’re the one and only

Every word on your resume serves the purpose of separating you from the pack. 

Highlight career achievements, such as promotions or awards. Tell a compelling story that resonates with your target employer.

Avoid the phrase “Responsible for...” The tasks that follow are typically implied. Did you save money, make money, or improve something that created value? Did you do your job more efficiently or effectively than someone else? What was the result to the company? Describe what, where, when, why, and/or how. Be specific.

Provide quantifiable evidence about why you are the “the one.”

Step 4. Presentation counts

Not everyone has the budget to purchase an engagement ring for a Kardashian. Work with what you’ve got.

You can’t change your employment history because it is just that: history. However, you can reframe, reword, and reposition your past. Approximately 80% of your resume should match the job description in an obvious way.

What’s included in your resume is just as important as what’s not. Eliminate irrelevant information. Keep it clear and concise. Marry your employment history to your employers’ present needs.

Select the perfect format to accentuate your strengths. Reserve the most visual space for the most important message. Use white space and line breaks generously to make key information easy to find.

Show creativity and effort when you design the resume for your one and only employer.

Step 5. Make it special

Would you shout from a rooftop “Will you marry me?” to nobody in particular?

Yes, I suggest customizing your resume for plan B. Yes, one version per employer. No need to panic. Swapping out terminology and rearranging key phrases may be sufficient. If plan B is completely different than plan A, consider starting your resume for another employer from scratch.

Ensure that each version of your resume is a perfect fit for the recipient. How? Review steps 1 through 4.

Convince your target employer that you’re a match made in heaven. Use a strategically customized resume to get a “yes” to your employment.


Dani (Lerner) Mattisinko is addicted to helping women turn job search stress into success. Her experience in staffing, sales, and social media spans more than 15 years. Dani currently serves as a volunteer career coach and workshop facilitator at Fresh Start Women’s Foundation in Phoenix, AZ.

Connect with Dani

Twitter @danimattisinko

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Creating A Career Plan: Interview with Cathie Black

Reposted from The Daily Muse

If you’re a bookworm, you know her as the author of Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life), a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best seller and, as one reviewer put it, “like having a portable mentor at your side.”

If you’re in the media or publishing world, you know her as one of the first female moguls in the media industry: She’s served as the Chairman and President of Hearst Magazines (think Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, and O, the Oprah Magazine) as well as President and Publisher of USA Today.

And if you’re a Daily Muse reader, you’ll soon know her as your virtual mentor. Every other week, we’ll be sitting down with Cathie and bringing you her practical advice on pursuing your passions, having a success mindset, getting ahead at work, and creating the career and life of your dreams.

Today, we’re kicking all this off with Cathie’s words of wisdom on creating a career plan, setting goals, and orchestrating your own success.

Because obviously, she’s done something right.

We often hear that we should have 5- or 10-year career plans. What is your take?

It’s great to have a career goal, but the world has changed so much that a 10-year plan just isn’t realistic. Most people can’t imagine being in one company for that long. They want to experience other settings and they are wary of committing for much more than a couple of years. Perhaps it’s because they see little job security anywhere around them, or they’ve seen parents or friends downsized or had their companies sold.

However, after about four or five years in the workplace, things begin to clarify. You either really like what you are doing and can see a path to greater advancement or you know it’s not the field you want to stay in and you are open to rethinking your original game plan. Maybe it’s going to business school. Maybe it’s a complete re-routing. But most of all, it is important to take tangible steps to go for the next rung up the ladder or improve your situation.

Start by thinking, “How far do I want to go?” You should be observing the Manager or the Director a step above you—and the Managing Director four steps above you—and identifying if that amount of responsibility and workload is what you want.

Assuming that the answer is yes, begin planning how to get there. You have to be thinking “I am in X position today, I have this kind of responsibility, I’m earning this kind of money. What does it take to get to the next level?” You’ll want to explore that by talking with colleagues who you respect and whose judgment is sound. Take the opportunity to prepare a set of questions and discuss them with your manager and those at a higher level, always asking how they achieved their goals and what advice to they have for how you can get ahead.

Once you’ve created that plan, what are the next steps? What do you do with it?

Start by being active. Too often, women are passive, assuming things will just happen. And generally, exciting new responsibilities don’t just happen.  You have to be clear to your manager that you want to move ahead, that you’re serious about your career, that you’re willing to take on a new project or even relocate or move to another division to broaden your skill set.

I always say, “Don’t think your boss is a mind reader!” She can’t know all of your ambitions, hopes, dreams, expectations. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be in her office every Monday morning, asking, “What’s next for me?” But when it’s appropriate (end-of-year is always a good time, as hopefully there’s a record of success that you have achieved in the last 12 months), you need to make an appointment with your manager, and be clear about your goals for the upcoming year.

That gives you the opportunity to say something like: “I want to make sure you understand that I want to succeed in this company. I really love my work and working for you. Do you have any suggestions on how I can improve in a particular area? Is there anything you have observed that is holding me back?”

Why do you think women are prone to thinking that things “will just happen?”

Many years ago, Gloria Steinem, the founding editor of Ms. magazine, said that women have a “terminal case of gratitude.” In other words, they worked so hard to get that job or title or responsibility—they were so appreciative of it—that they became complacent, not aggressively going after bigger responsibilities. They sat contentedly in whatever their function was, as opposed to saying, “I am ambitious, “I am smart,” “I am competent,” “I have the qualities needed to succeed with larger responsibilities,” and then taking a chance and going for it. In other words, being afraid to put themselves “out there.”

Women are less risk-prone, I believe, than men are. These are generalizations, of course, but men are trained to barge ahead, go forth, take the mountain, and rarely look back. Women, on the other hand, have to be encouraged to dream a bigger dream. That’s what I mean about being passive, and just hoping that something bigger will just come along.

You aimed for the top, and you got there. But I see a lot of women not thinking that big. They think about one or two steps up, and they think that’s enough.

My advice to women is that they’ve got to develop a bigger passion for a bigger life and a bigger job. I try to encourage women all the time to not be satisfied. And it comes back to being too grateful. It’s thinking too small, or not having that self-confidence that is so critical to the way you are perceived.

You have earned a seat at the table! Take it. No one is going to say, “Oh, go sit in the center of the table.” You have to go sit in the center of the table and act as though you belong in that seat. And make a contribution.

In your own life, when have you taken a risk that’s made a successful impact on your career?

It’s a long time ago, but when I went to Ms. magazine as the advertising manager, it was a big risk. Would this new, feminist magazine succeed? Could I succeed? At the time, I was on the advertising sales staff at New York magazine, and moving up to an ad manager position was my main goal. I also had to weigh the pros and cons of what I would gain or lose by going to Ms. No one knew if the magazine would succeed—so that was the risk. But a risk I believed worth taking.

And it was also exciting. First, I believed in the mission of the magazine in those early days of the women’s movement. I felt like I could make a difference. Second, I knew that becoming an advertising manager would vault me ahead a number of layers to achieve my eventual goal of becoming a publisher. There were few women in ad sales then, and none in management. And since Ms. was to be a national magazine, it would extend my circle of contacts outside of New York City at ad agencies, and companies all across the U.S. All of this, I believed, would be good for my reputation and potential advancement.

In my own mind, I had to ask, “What’s the worst that could happen if this doesn’t succeed?” I analyzed the pros and cons and came to the decision that taking the risk was worth it. And I never looked back.

At what point did you know you wanted to be the publisher of a magazine?

As an English major in college, I assumed I would become an editor. But when I first started interviewing, it was very difficult to find a job as an editorial assistant, plus it didn’t pay enough to live in New York! I was interviewing at different companies, and one head of HR said to me, “We don’t have anything in editorial, but we do have something in ad sales.” I didn’t even know what that meant, but I needed and wanted a paying job that would cover the rent.

It wasn’t very glamorous, as I was really selling ads over the phone, but it was a great learning experience. And I found that I really likedand was good atthe selling part. I also liked the creative environment, the people, and being a part of a product that changed monthly. In short time, I felt like the magazine industry was a good fit for me. It was always changing, fast-paced, interesting, and ultimately, rewarding. And the top job was publisher. And I knew I wanted that. Eventually.

What do you often find yourself telling women about goal-setting?

There are five things I talk about in my book, Basic Black: Pursuing your passions; taking risks that are calculated, not crazy; achieving the 360-degree life; making your life a grudge-free zone; and orchestrating your own success.

That’s really relevant here. Only you can plan your own route, it’s not going to be done for you. So defining what you want, what degree of success you want, how you identify that, and how you can get there—those have to come from within. Other people can help you with that plan, but having a goal—and sharing that goal with those who can impact your career or next step—is going to help you move forward, faster.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Nutritious Holidays

By Ellen Dolgen

I recently had a great conversation with Keri Glassman, nutrition expert, founder of, and author of 4 books including her latest, The New You and Improved Diet: 8 Rules to Lose Weight and Change Your Life Forever, being released on December 24, which helps readers lose weight and “get stronger, calmer, healthier, and more balanced.”
With the holidays already upon us, I thought this was a great opportunity to combine Keri’s advice with practical tips on how to navigate through the temptations we face around the holidays. The season of eating may have begun for you a few weeks ago when co-workers brought bags of left-over Halloween candy to the office. This week, of course, preparation for the Thanksgiving feast is in full swing, and then the holiday parties will begin with all of the sweet indulgences (well, maybe just a half drink more) that go with them. With everything going on, friends to see, places to go, gifts to buy, and treats to eat, you may find taking care of yourself slipping lower on the To-Do List. With our time squeezed, it’s easy to skip yoga or our bike ride and have a piece of cake instead. Don’t get me wrong. I love cake! At the same time, I know that if we don’t approach this season with some consciousness and care, we’ll be bringing a little bit more of ourselves into the new year. I also know that this season can be joyous fun and a great opportunity to learn new, healthy habits. If we can make healthy choices through the holidays, then maintaining a healthy lifestyle when things calm down in the new year will be a breeze!
A study was actually conducted in 2000 by the New England Journal of Medicine on how much people tend to gain during the holidays. While they found most people gain only an average of one pound, the important finding was that these people didn’t lose that pound after the holidays (or even 9 months later). If a person was already overweight, they were more likely to experience a more weight gain of up to 5 pounds. That’s significant. If you gain only 5 extra pounds each year, you may not think that’s much. But, over time, let’s say 10 years, you’ll be 50 pounds over weight. Whoa!
So, two lessons seem to be pertinent here: (1) if you already have a few pounds to lose, you’re more at risk of gaining weight over the holidays, and (2) weight gain insidiously accumulates from “just a few pounds” right into obesity.
Perimenopause and menopause already puts women at greater risk for weight gain especially in the abdominal area because of our changing hormone levels and slowing metabolism. Getting heavier is not an inevitable conclusion, and we are NOT helpless in the face of these challenges. We simply must develop the healthy habits of a healthful lifestyle.
My conversation with Keri was very insightful, so I decided the holidays are a perfect time to try out a few of her ideas. Each answer from Keri is followed by a few tips on how you can incorporate her advice into making healthy choices for yourself. Yes, even during this very stressful time of year. Maybe we can learn new habits that reduce some of the stress and allow us to create and receive more joy. Hmmmm …

What role does cortisol (and other important hormones) play and how do they interact to affect our health and well-being?

Production of sex hormones estrogen and progesterone decrease during menopause, and levels of cortisol increase. Cortisol also rises because of stress and is associated with increased abdominal fat, weight gain, and increased risk for cardiovascular heart disease. Studies show that regular, moderate exercise decreases cortisol levels, so keeping the weight off and maintaining a stable mood is a totally attainable goal—just be sure to keep moving!
Holiday Tip # 1: Keep your stress hormones in check with exercise! The holidays are stressful already, so if you also don’t exercise, your stress hormones could go through the roof! Look at your schedule for the rest of the year. Decide what reasonable amount of exercise is going to be possible when considering everything else you have to do. You may have to shift a few priorities. Then, set a schedule that is sane enough to allow you to continue to be physically active through the holidays. Recruit your friends, set a few achievable fitness goals, and challenge/inspire each other to stay healthy during the holidays and into the new year.

Trouble sleeping, loss of energy…what strategies would you advise for a woman experiencing these symptoms?

Sleep is critical. Get plenty of it! Our bodies (and minds) love routine. Researchers at the National Sleep Institute suggest establishing regular sleep and wake times. Stick to a specific bedtime and bedtime rituals that help you to wind down, even on weekends. Read a little, meditate, take a warm bath, listen to relaxing music, or fix a cup of herbal tea—whatever works for you! Try darkness and quiet. Turn out the lights, close the curtains, and power down all those blinking, beeping electronics about 20 minutes before bedtime. Also remember to keep your bedroom free of distractions! A clean, uncluttered space without noise keeps your resting spot work-free and peaceful. Great bedding and a good book never hurt, either!
Holiday Tip # 2: Get your rest. Keri just gave us a lot of ideas for creating an environment that’s conducive to sleep. I know, some homes are more “active” than others and creating peace and quiet may be a challenge. Maybe experiment with quiet hours, a time after which everyone in the household settles down and gets ready to rest.

I like to focus on the positives, the do’s more than the don’ts. You mention pampering as important to a healthy lifestyle. I like the sound of this! Tell me more...

With busy lifestyles, we often don’t realize we’re close to the point of exhaustion and burnout. Often, we just need some “me-time” or a little indulgence: nonfood rewards that remind us what a great job we’re doing, and how much we’re juggling, can work wonders! Treating ourselves to something special has undeniable emotional and physical benefits. Small things, like a manicure, massage, or bubble bath help us to feel and look great. Research shows that good self-care skills improve the prognosis of people with everything from diabetes to cold sores to cancer. Women have a harder time than men do at taking a step back and addressing their stress and needs. I tell every client to schedule in some pampering at least once a week.
Holiday Tip # 3: I think it’s time to go back to step 1 of my 5 steps to hormone happiness. Make time for yourself, and put yourself on your own To-Do List.

I recently interviewed Dr Diane Schneider, co-founder of She mentioned the ABCD’s of bone health: Activity, Balance, Calcium, Vitamin D, and Estrogen. For bone health, is there anything you would add to this list?

Those ABCD’s sound great to me! Exercise and lifestyle are critical for bone health, overall strength, and for mental wellbeing! Balance really speaks to the pampering we talked about. My Nutritious Life philosophy is all about balance. Balance means not only on proper nutrition and hydration, but also exercise, relaxation, sleep, sexual health and emotional wellness. Calcium and Vitamin D are crucial for bone health, and absorption of both decreases after menopause. Make sure to get lots of calcium-rich foods, like low-fat milk and yogurt, wild-caught ocean fish like salmon, dark leafy greens, beans, nuts and seeds, and calcium-fortified whole grains. Ask your RD or doctor if you need a calcium supplement. And exercise outside occasionally to get a little sun! Your body needs sun exposure to produce Vitamin D.
Holiday Tip # 4:
So, this one is a biggie. Seek out healthy food during the holidays. Look up new recipes that are delicious (good to you) and healthy (good for you). Skip the unhealthy indulgences as much as possible without feeling like you’re depriving yourself. I truly believe that after you’ve developed healthy eating habits, you’ll feel amazing and look great. You’ll have more energy and less trouble fitting into your pants. Once you know what that feels like, those unhealthy options aren’t nearly as tempting, even during the holidays.
Sure, have a peppermint martini at a friend’s holiday gathering. But still go to your spin classes or whatever is your regular exercise routine. Go back for seconds of your favorite Thanksgiving dish, but return to normal portions when your family begins to eat your way through the leftover turkey. Healthy living is a habit. Long ago, Aristotle noted this nugget of wisdom, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Have I just drawn a connection through the holidays, martinis, Aristotle, and healthy living? Wow. It must be the holidays for me to be this inspired! May you and the ones you love also experience the inspiration of this season.  Stay on the path of a healthy lifestyle, and have a wonderful, warm, and delicious Thanksgiving!
Remember my motto: Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence (even during the holidays) is OUT!
Tell me: What three words come to mind when you think of the holidays?
Indulge in a few of these:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ways to Avoid Credit Card Problems When Travelling

When you are getting away from it all, do the following to help ensure your trip is stress and worry free:


·         Take only the credit cards you plan to use — Leave all other cards in a secure location at home or in your safety deposit box. The same goes for other types of cards that you don’t anticipate needing — such as your library, health club or work identification card. Doing so can help reduce the number of places you need to contact if your wallet or billfold is lost or stolen.


·         Document the cards you take with you — Be sure to list the card numbers and their respective toll-free customer service numbers so you can quickly contact the issuing company if a problem occurs. Keep this information in a safe place like a hotel safe.


·         Notify your card company about your travel plans Doing so can help you avoid a suspension on your card if the company has concerns about unauthorized activity and cannot reach you by phone.


·         Don’t conduct financial transactions on public computers — Some computers keep a record of where you have been online. Also, don’t leave your credit cards — or other valuable personal or financial information — unsecured in your hotel room. You never know who may come across them when you’re not there.


·         Be wary of ATMs and automated gas pumps — The FBI has recently issued a warning about skimming, which occurs when a thief attaches a device to an ATM or card reader. The device (which goes undetected because it looks like part of the machine) enables thieves to collect and then use or sell information about your card from its magnetic strip.


If you are traveling to a foreign country, remember to make sure your credit cards will work. Some countries process only cards with microchip — instead of magnetic strip — technology.




Renée A. Hanson, CFP®, CEP®, CDFA™, CFS, is a private wealth advisor with Hanson, Ayala & Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Her passion is in helping women achieve their dreams and financial goals, regardless of life’s many obstacles. Renée is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of AZ, CA, CO, GA, IA, IL, MI, MN, MT, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA, WI. Please visit: to learn more.


Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients.


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Thursday, November 15, 2012

How to Negotiate a Year End Raise

Reposted from

When Stuart Diamond worked as a reporter at The New York Times in the 1980s, he used to approach his boss toward the end of every year and pose a general query about how the boss thought he had been doing. Then after getting a favorable response, he would ask a straightforward question: “Am I worth less to you now than I was worth last year?” The editor would invariably say no, and Diamond would introduce the fact that the consumer price index, the government’s inflation measure, had risen, say, 3%, causing Diamond’s compensation to be worth that much less. “If no one in the company was getting a raise at the time, I would say, ‘I just want to get paid next year, what I was getting paid this year,’” he explains. Diamond says he used the tactic when he was a reporter at Newsday in the 1970s and early ‘80s, and he still uses it today with his superiors at Wharton Business School and Penn Law School, where he teaches negotiation strategy. “It’s never not worked,” he maintains.

More than two decades ago, Diamond left journalism to teach and consult on negotiation strategy. His best-selling book, Getting More: How to Negotiate to Achieve Your Goals in the Real World, lays out his unique take on negotiating in a range of situations, from convincing a four-year-old to brush his teeth and go to bed on time, to an Indian woman talking her way out of an arranged marriage. Diamond has advised government and corporate managers in more than 40 countries. His clients have included a Chinese petrochemical company, South African entrepreneurs, Citibank, Eli Lilly and Google. The book is packed with negotiation tips for all sorts of situations, from sales to relationships to travel to military stand-offs.

Diamond’s theme: it’s easier to get people to agree with you if you demonstrate that you value their perceptions and emotions, rather than trying to use power and logic to persuade them. I asked Diamond to apply his ideas to the challenge of negotiating a year-end raise or bonus. He offers the following advice:

First, always negotiate in person, rather than via phone or email. Diamond says studies show that face to face meetings are six times more likely to go the negotiator’s way. “When you look in someone’s eyes, it’s harder to say no,” he notes. Rather than framing the meeting as a salary negotiation, tell your boss you’d like to have a broad discussion about your value to the company, with a focus on your compensation, taking into account the company’s constraints.

Second, inquire about your manager’s perceptions of you. Ask how you performed this year; did you do as well as expected? Do ask if the manager has any written evaluations about you. Also ask, what are the company’s standards for giving out raises?

Next, if the boss says the company is awarding no raises this year, ask, “What do I need to do in the next year to get a raise?” Arrive prepared with documentation of your achievements over the past year in the form of a memo, advises Diamond. Do keep records every time a colleague or superior compliments your work. If you’ve gotten a stellar review from another superior, you can use the documentation to negotiate for a raise. But Diamond says it’s better to use your past accomplishments to bolster your argument that you can be a high achiever going forward.

At the Times, Diamond says he counted his stories that landed on the front page, and kept a file of compliments from his superiors. He compared his output with colleagues and played up the fact that he would produce the same or greater quality of work the next year.

Do volunteer to work extra shifts or to put in time during off hours. Diamond says he discovered that the Times was short-staffed on weekends, so he said he would come in on Sundays. There was always plenty of work and the Sunday shifts yielded material for additional page one stories. Diamond also advises volunteering to switch departments if your company can use your services elsewhere.

If you find the manager is open to discussing a raise, Diamond suggests letting them take the lead on setting a number. “You want to give the boss the decision-making power up front,” he says. “It makes the boss feel empowered.” Diamond recommends another negotiation subtlety: Don’t say you deserve a raise. Rather, suggest that a raise is only fair. “You want them to come to the realization themselves that you deserve a raise,” Diamond says. “You want to lead them by giving them the information they need to justify the decision.”

Once the manager starts talking about a number, Diamond recommends asking how they arrived at the figure, and what you need to do to earn more than that. “You want them to set the standards,” he explains. “The more they set the standards, the more they’re committed to them.”

If your manager maintains adamantly that no one in the company is getting a raise, including you, Diamond advises raising the subject of “intangibles” like added vacation, flexible work time and expenses that come from “buckets” other than compensation. Maybe your employer can give you more paid days off. Perhaps you can get a car allowance, help underwriting a home loan, or your employer will agree to pay for continuing education courses.

Another tip: Diamond recommends bonding with a long-time company employee and asking that source for information. “There’s always some old guy in an office who has been put out to pasture,” he says. “No one talks to him but this person will know about the company’s dreams and fears and how to get raises.”

If your boss winds up offering nothing, ask when you can have the conversation again. Suggest the end of the next quarter or after six months. Also ask what has to happen, at the company or in the economy, in order for you to be considered for a raise. “You always want to leave the door open,” says Diamond.

What about timing for the end-of-year raise discussion? Diamond recommends Thanksgiving week, when the pace slows in many workplaces. “You can say, ‘I’m really thankful for my job. I’d like to get an evaluation of how I did this year,’” Diamond suggests.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Entrepreneurism Is...Freedom, Flexibility & Finances

By Tisha Marie Pelletier, founder of The Mom-e Club

Ask any mom entrepreneur why she chose to become a business owner and the answer most commonly heard is, "I wanted the freedom and flexibility to be able to have the best of both worlds - to never have to answer to anyone, but myself, and to share special moments with my children."

Sounds wonderful in theory, but what you don't hear is the other "F" in the equation...the "F" that can make or break it in the entrepreneurial world. 

How she is doing financially.

Is she able to keep her business and home afloat with her revenue?  Is she financially stressed that she doesn't know when she'll receive her next paycheck?  Is the stress affecting her marriage and her relationship with her children?  Does she have family or a supportive partner that can help her get through the rough patches in her business when finances are tight?

Like most things in life, being a mom entrepreneur or a working mom is a complete catch 22.  You either sacrifice being with your family for a job that pays the bills and/or goes to expensive full-time daycare where you see your children on weekends at best, or you take the entrepreneurial leap of faith, make memories with your family and figure out how best to support them with sometimes very little or no money coming in.

It's not an easy road to travel down, especially when the topic revolves around money.

As a mom entrepreneur, I deal with this issue, constantly.  It has been a topic of discussion between my husband and I on more occasions than I care to count.

In fact, he recently asked me if I was going to quit all of my businesses and go work for Southwest Airlines so we could get free flights.  Seriously?  Yes, seriously. 

So, do I give up everything I've worked hard for over 8 years for more financial stability and less time with my kiddos?  Or, do I give it my all, know that opportunities are limitless, and remember that no amount of money could ever take me away from watching my children grow up?  This is the time they need ME!

It is such a difficult and draining decision.  One so many mom entrepreneurs are challenged with.

When it all boils down, the right decision of whether to be a mom entrepreneur or a full-time employee depends on you and your family's situation, and providing the type of support they need from you, whether financially or physically.

Personally, my decision was entrepreneurism and to forego the steady paycheck, although on some days, steady does seem nice, but not all days.

I chose to focus my attention 100% on my children who need me more than ever (I have a 4 yr old son Caleb and an 11 month old daughter Ellie.)

I chose to learn firsthand that when business is doing well, it's not a free ticket to spend carelessly, but to prioritize my spending, and save for the slow months, which all entrepreneurs know, do come when least expected.  (It's why Groupon is my best friend.)

I chose to put faith in my ability, work harder than I ever have in my entire life and show my children that I want the freedom and flexibility even though my finances are a little, or maybe a lot, less desirable than others' bank accounts.  

But that's me.

Whatever your choice is, know that it is the right choice, no judgment passed, and that your decision to work for yourself or for someone else is not always your final answer.  It's okay to change your mind later down the road because we can.  Our gift is being able to adapt and take on challenges as they come one day at a time.  
Tisha thrives on being busy.  She is the owner of Simply Put Marketing as well as Details Event  Management, a full service marketing and event planning firm. 
Being a mom entrepreneur is something Tisha is extremely passionate about.  In March 2009, she launched a monthly networking group for mom entrepreneurs.  In September 2010, she expanded on the idea and founded The Mom-e Club to encourage, support and educate moms in every stage in their business.  The organization currently has chapters throughout Arizona and California. 
In November 2009, Tisha made the decision to put her passion and event planning ability to good use by creating an event that would celebrate mom entrepreneurs for their amazing talent and dedication.  Her first signature event, the “Mom Entrepreneur of the Year” was an expo, cocktail reception and dinner award ceremony held on Saturday, April 17, 2010 at the Hilton Phoenix East/Mesa in Arizona.  Tisha also debuted her first book When the Universe Throws a Curve Ball – How a mom entrepreneur went from disappointment to living her passion that same day.
Tisha’s goal is to continue planning the “Mom Entrepreneur Celebration” event every year while she continues to expand The Mom-e Club throughout the nation.  When she’s not assisting clients with their next big marketing project or upcoming event, Tisha spends time with her husband Sean, son Caleb, daughter Ellie, and boxer Diesel in their Gilbert, Arizona home.