Five Things that are Way More Important than Money

It can often seem as if money is the measure of all things. This is especially true in the personal finance world where the answer to nearly any question seems to somehow involve money. This is a good time to step back and realize that there are a few things that are way more important than money. You can completely wipe out financially and rebound, but once lost, each of the five items below range anywhere from tough to impossible to reclaim.

Your relationship with Jesus Christ

In Mark 8:36 Jesus asks us:

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

He was of course presenting to us the contrast between gaining worldly wealth at the expense of eternal salvation, that only comes through a committed relationship with Him. No matter how attractive wealth may be in the moment, it will never be worth sacrificing eternity for.

If you are a believer, you know this to be true, at least intellectually. The problem however is that we often confuse financial success for right standing before God. But right standing before God has nothing to do with money. You are no more blessed when you have money then you are cursed when you don’t.

Your health

If you don’t have your health then almost nothing else will matter in your life. It is more important than money because once it’s lost you cannot replace it. No amount of money can reverse a heart attack, a bout with depression or a cancer diagnosis.

It is never worth compromising your health for a job, a career, a business, or the pursuit of money. At a minimum, health has to be at least reasonably maintained throughout your life. Money can interfere with this because it can turn into a crusade if we become obsessed with it. When that happens, your health can easily be ignored.

Your time

Once again, time is one of those commodities that once lost it cannot be restored. You can spend years out of your life chasing financial success in giving up time for virtually everything else in the process. Worse, if you don’t achieve the success you seek, the time invested will have been wasted.

Balance is important when it comes to time. Some needs to be spent earning money and building at least a small amount of wealth. But you also need to spend time taking care of your health, spending time with people, spending time in prayer and study, and spending time nurturing yourself.

Your family

It’s not at all uncommon for people who are obsessed with financial success to ignore their family. Many times, family will be held up as the whole reason for pursuing financial success. That can be a weak connection if in the pursuit of wealth you fail to spend time and dedicated attention to the people closest to you and who you love best.

Years lost pursuing wealth will be difficult to overcome at a later date in life when you finally become aware of the damage that has been caused by the chase.

Your Integrity

It’s not always easy to maintain your integrity during the pursuit of wealth. There’s a fine line between pushing the envelope and outright breaking the law. Many well-meaning business people end up stepping over the line. It’s doubtful that they ever do it intentionally  it is very likely that it is more an evolution than a decision.

Guard your integrity like the precious gift that it is. Once it is lost, it will take many years to rebuild the standing that you once had  if that will even be possible.

Money is certainly important; we need it to live our lives and to make future plans. But never give it magical powers, or assign it the highest position in your life.

Can you think of other areas of life that are more important than money?

Why you Should Always Keep Cash on Hand

dollarsIn the age of the Internet, credit cards, debit cards, and other forms of electronic payment, cash has become a less and less used form of payment.

Before I had more than a few hundred dollars in my bank account in high school, I used cash to buy things at the store or fill up my gas tank.

But as I went into college, my debit card became my primary method of purchasing school supplies, such as textbooks online. Post-college, when I finally got approved for credit cards and started to use them for the big purchases that are inherent in adult life.

I found many benefits to using debit or credit cards over cash. One of them was security. While it is possible to be a victim of identity theft and have someone use your debit card, it is much safer than carrying around a large amount of cash in your wallet, which is much easier to lose or have stolen. Additionally, the Fair Credit Billing Act makes the owner of a lost or stolen credit card responsible for only up to $50 worth of fraudulent purchases.

Using credit cards also helps to build your credit score, which in turn allows you to have your credit limit expanded.

At the same time, I have realized there are, in many instances, advantages to having cash on hand. In spite of its inferiority to credit cards, in some cases such as the ability to dispute a payment and prevent identity thieves from stealing your money, it is much like a game of rock-paper-scissors.

This became apparent after Hurricane Sandy, where thousands of people lost power, including the Internet, and were left with only the cash they had on hand to buy essential items.

Additionally, the recent financial fiasco in Cyprus, in which the banks were closed after people attempted to take their money out of their accounts when a tax was imposed on it, proves that you don’t want to be reliant on an ATM or the nearest bank being open in order to access your money at a time of need.

As I see it, there are several good reasons to have cash either on hand or somewhere accessible in lieu of banks or credit cards.

One is in the event of an emergency. If a storm knocks out power and the nearest store is only taking cash, your $3,000 limit on your credit card or in your checking account won’t do you any good compared to the guy who has $300 in cash in his hand. If there is an even bigger crisis, where you are unable to get to the bank and the Internet  doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter how much money you have in a bank or a credit union. All that matters if how much cash you have with you.

But the truth is it does not really matter what kind of emergency it is. It could be only minor, such as your credit or debit card not working at the store (which happened to me once), or you forgot to put them back in your wallet when you left home (happened to me twice).

If you are going to keep a sizable amount of cash at your residence be sure to get a decent security box or safe to store it in. Keep it out of sight and somewhere secure. When carrying cash in your wallet, it really depends on how much you feel you need compared to the risks involved if you lose your wallet or have it stolen.

Cash is also preferable to those who value their privacy or like to stay off the grid. Now that practically every financial transaction is monitored, controlled, or regulated in some manner, using cash when making purchases is one of the few remaining ways to keep your life private in some manner.

photo by Images_of_Money

How to Keep Your Employer from Knowing You’re Looking for a Job

headhunterWith all the various methods for instant communication available today, keeping your job hunt a secret from your employer is more difficult than ever. And keeping it a secret is probably exactly what you need to do. In many companies, you can be fired for even attempting to look for another job. It’s often referred to as disloyalty to employer, which is a firing offense.

While it isn’t possible to guarantee complete secrecy, there are a number of steps you can take that will minimize the likelihood of your employer finding out that you are looking  at least until you are ready to let them know.

Use a headhunter, but not too many of them

One of the best ways to conduct a job search in secret to use a headhunter. A lot of people do this when looking for a job, but there are additional steps you need to take in order to cloak your effort.

Only work with one or two at a time. By working with only one or two headhunters at a time, you will be better able to maintain some control over the number of contacts they make. If instead you’re working with half a dozen recruiters, there is a very good chance that news of your search will get back to your employer. You simply cannot control that many people.

Be sure to emphasize that the search must be done in private. We often assume that a headhunter automatically knows to keep your search private. But never overlook the obvious let them know that it is private, and that they are not permitted to release your name to a prospective employer unless that employer has first expressed interest in your skills. In the recruiting industry, this is referred to as providing blind resumes. These are qualification-only resumes that provide no identifying information.

Let them know that the search must be very specific. Unless you are desperate to find a job, any job, instruct the recruiter to introduce you only to a very narrow range of employers and jobs that you would consider interviewing for. The last thing you want have is for them to blast your resume out to 100 or more employers at a time. That’s like announcing your search in the newspaper!

Keep your applications to a minimum

We just talked about keeping a recruiter from blasting your resume out all over the place. You need to follow the same advice. In most communities there are only a limited number of employers in a particular field, and most people who work in the industry know the major players. If you let every employer in town know that you are looking for a job, it may be just a matter of time before your employer catches wind of what you’re up to.

Network – but don’t ask for a job

When you network in the hunt for a job, try to do it from a different angle. Instead of being blunt about your desire to seek employment, instead try to establish common ground with someone who may be likely to hire you.

The idea is to build up a working relationship with other people in the industry by talking shop, and to get them to solicit you rather than the other way around. Since the prospective employer will have a specific interest in you, they will be careful not to disclose your exchanges back to your employer.

Never search on company time or on company equipment

It’s always tempting to conduct a job search on company time. After all, it’s always easiest to contact prospective employers during normal working hours. Since you are at work at the same time, you might want to make phone calls from your job. But don’t! In most organizations, someone always has a glass to the wall and is listening in. And nothing in an office moves quite as quickly as gossip!

Make any job hunting phone calls on breaks, on lunch hour, and after hours, and always outside the office.

Likewise, don’t ever use company equipment to help you in your job search. That includes company telephones, email, or word processing. Employers increasingly monitor the traffic on the systems, and you should always assume that someone is either listening or watching what you’re doing on company equipment.

Don’t discuss it with others

Have you ever heard the term loose lips sink ships? When it comes to searching for a job, discuss it with as few people as possible  and with no one in the office.

It’s very rare that work friends fall into the category of true friends. You often don’t find that out until there is some point of conflict. A friendly coworker might resent your decision to leave the company, or might even conclude that he can improve his own position in the hierarchy by ratting you out.

If you are planning a job search, you’ll want to engineer the entire process on your own terms. But spilling your guts to too many people, or to the wrong person on the job, could turn the job hunt from a choice to a necessity in short order.

Have you ever had an employer find out you were looking for a job before you were ready to tell them?

photo by thetaxhaven

Money Choices of Billionaires

millionaireThere are more and more billionaires being made every year, and 2013 started with just under 1,500 people in the world being worth more than $1 billion. What do all of these people have in common? Aside from an extraordinary amount of luck, they made wise decisions with their money. Their business acumen is impeccable, and they have learned a few simple secrets about handling their money and investing wisely.

Hiring a lawyer from Acclaim Legal Services to help you handle your finances is just the first step, but finding investments is the next step in reaching your financial success. As you work with your attorney to find the best investments, keep these words from the wise in mind:

Find Investments That Will Pay Off Long Term

There are businesses that will yield immediate dividends, but how successful will they be in the next 5 to 10 to 30 years? A business that sold personalized floppy disks may have killed in 1990, but they would have become obsolete in 2000. Find a business that will be a valuable investment in the long run, one that will keep paying dividends for years to come. Look at the business model, the product or service they are offering, and the plan for the company. If it is reasonable to expect that the company could continue to yield high returns for years to come, it may be a good investment.

Let Your Fear Be a Marker

If you are afraid that a company you are considering investing in may not be a good idea, it may be time to listen to what your subconscious is telling you. Things that seem too good to be true usually are, and your first impression of the company may usually be right. Many wise men will tell you not to listen to your fear, but experts like Warren Buffet use their business and personal sense to get a feel for their potential investments. If they don’t seem like good ideas, they do research. With that research, they usually find out that their instincts were usually right. If your mind tells you to be wary with a particular investment, it’s worth listening to it.

Stay In Familiar Territory

If you have a food company, why would you suddenly branch out into shipping or the import/export business? Unless you have expertise in that area or an expert that can help you navigate through the complex industry, you’ll just be starting yourself off from scratch. Why not stick with what you already know. If you are successful in one industry, stay in that industry and find a new sector that has not yet been completely tapped out or tapped into. Just like Coca Cola found that selling non-cola soft drinks under a different name was the best way to expand their brand, you may want to consider a way to stretch your brand in the same industry — or at least in familiar territory.

Never Gamble it All

Many rich men have lost their fortunes overnight, and it was because they gambled everything they had on one business venture — or even 100. There is nothing that guarantees that your company will succeed, no matter how much capital you have to start off with. Never gamble all of your money on a company’s success, as you’ll go from riches to rags overnight if you should fail.

Warren Buffet has a measly $20 billion of cash on hand at any given time, while the rest of his prodigious wealth is invested. The amount of money that he keeps as a reserve is a pittance when compared to his vast fortune, but at least he’ll always have something to fall back on should something devastating ever happen to his companies, corporations, and other investments. You should always have a cushion on hand, as you never know when you’ll need a bit of cash or some liquid assets handy.

Be Adaptable

If you think that technology is the investment of tomorrow and you sink all of your money into tech, what will you do when solar power or food is the next big investment? Don’t stick with one thing, but change with the times. If you see that one of your investments isn’t paying off as much as you would have like, it may be time to accept the loss, pull your money out, and try some other investment that will pay off.

Don’t stubbornly try to make an investment pay off just because you think it should or the numbers show that it “could”. Be willing to take a hit, and be flexible and adaptable with your investments. Never be so sure of anything that you are willing to bet all of your money on it, but be adaptable and change as the world around you continues changing. Today’s “sure thing” may be tomorrow’s “could have been”.

photo by guyfwicke

Taking a Job When Your Business is Failing – And How it Might Even Save Your Business

day jobOn the surface, taking a job when it seems that your business is failing is just about the worst outcome for anyone who is self-employed. It appears as if your ship has sunk, and the fact that you have to take a job to replace lost income serves as confirmation of the fact not only to you, but to everyone who learns of it.

But there are reasons why you should not view this outcome as a failure. In fact, all it may be confirming is that you have hit a bump in the road that needs to be surmounted, and taking a job is how you will do it.

A failing business is a blow to the ego – but don’t over-react

If you have ever lost a job that was important to you  and most are  you can imagine that the loss of a business is pretty hard on the ego. In fact, it can be even worse with a business failure than with the loss of a job.

You probably put your heart and soul into building your business, and if it seems as if it’s about to fail it can be the emotional equivalent of the loss of a loved one. It’s hard not to take such an event very personally.

In truth however you should do all that you can separate yourself emotionally from the fact. If you can, you may recognize the fact that the failure of the business is only apparent. If you approach the situation logically, you may determine that it’s mostly a temporary situation that you need overcome, rather than a major life’s failure.

Most businesses ebb and flow – you may not have failed

The TV image of self-employment is that you quit your job, start a business, and five years later you’re a millionaire living on easy street for the rest of your life. In reality, 99% of business ventures don’t come close to that image.

Most businesses ebb and flow and income will rise and fall. Sometimes those fluctuations occur because the business is cyclical. There are short cycles, such as seasonal businesses, and longer cycles depending upon the industry that you are in. Real estate, for example, tends to be a long cycle business that goes through regular periods of boom and bust, each of which lasting several years.

If your business is in a cyclical decline, particularly a short-term one, it may just be a matter of riding out a rough spot. If the cycles are longer-term, you may have to have a long-term plan for dealing with the drought.

How taking a job might save your business

If your business is cyclical, or if it is going through a rough patch, getting a job could be just what’s needed to save it. The Idea is to never quit on your business!

Taking a job to ride out an income decline may buy you the time you need to get through to better times. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you’ll have to learn to ride the ups and downs of your business. Taking a job to replace lost cash flow from your business, until circumstances improve, could be a sign of strategic brilliance.

You could for example take a full-time job, and reduce your business to a sideline. The idea will be to keep the business going, and to do what you can to increase cash flow, while you hold a job to pay your bills. Figure the job is temporary, and continue to focus on keeping your business going. The purpose of the job then will be to complement your business and not to replace it.

Think of taking a job as another income source

As a self-employed person, your highest priority is always maintaining and increasing your cash flow. Sometimes you’ll have to step out of the normal routine in order to do this. Getting a full-time job on a temporary basis could be just such a way of doing this. Think of the job as merely another income source  a temporary one  and it will seem less like a failure, and more like a way forward.

Making a living is more important than any business venture

Though it’s hard not to attach emotion and ego to your business, it’s important to realize that any income producing venture is first and foremost about making a living. That’s more important than whether the income is from either a job or your own business. Sometimes you just have to do what you need to do, and everything else needs to be put aside. If taking a job to supplement your income during a business downturn is necessary, just accept it as part of the process and push forward to a better future.

Don’t wait until it’s too late

If your business income is declining it’s best that you face that reality as soon as possible. If you need a job to supplement or replace your income, don’t agonize over it  go out and get it. Delay could be the difference between saving your business and watching it go down the drain!

Many businesses fail because the owner gets caught in the classic deer in the headlights syndrome. Don’t let that be you! Take action as soon as you begin to feel the solvency of your business is in question. If nothing else, the steady income from a job could be what keeps you out of panic mode, and prevent you from making big mistakes that could sink your business forever.

Have you ever been self-employed and forced to take a job?

photo by alancleaver

When To Foot the Food Bill

food billI wholeheartedly believe in generosity, but there are definitely times where I notice that some of my most generous friends, and even myself, have been taken advantage of by others at restaurants. In today’s day and age where etiquette is growing increasingly cloudy, it can be easy to forget who should pay for what and when. Plus, not all of us are raised in the same way with the same rules, so it can be challenging to navigate many of these situations if your friends don’t know or don’t understand these things the way you do.

So, below are some tips of what I have learned growing up and by experiencing awkward situations when it comes to money at restaurants. They are by no means hard and fast rules for etiquette nor do I claim to be an expert on manners. They are just situations that I’ve noticed over the years that could help someone else get out of some of those sticky moments. So without further ado, here’s when you should foot the bill:

1. When You Extend The Invitation

The number one thing that can get each and every one of us out of an awkward situation is to be very clear about our intentions. Many awkward who-grabs-the-check moments can be avoided if the host would extend an invitation like, Do you want to go grab a sandwich with me? My treat!❠Conversely, you can say, Do you want to go try that new restaurant in town? I’d love to treat you but I can’t today. It would be great to have the company though if you can come!❠You can also answer when the waiter asks if the bill is together or separate. If you’re feeling especially generous, you can also put your guest at ease by saying, Order whatever you want! I know I am. It’s my treat.❠The point is that if you are ready to extend the invitation, be ready to pay for your guest’s meal as well.

2. When You’re a Guy On A Date

I sense that I may possibly get comments from those who disagree with me on this. So, I definitely want to reiterate that I am no expert when it comes to modern day etiquette. I just know that when I was dating, I really appreciated it each and every time a man paid for my dinner. I found it to be very sweet and kind. Even today, I always let my husband pay for the bill, even though it comes out of the same bank account. There’s just something about having him take care of me that woos me.   However, I can understand women who insist on paying for their own half of a meal if that is what makes them more comfortable. Either way, I find that it’s always important to offer.

3. When You Want To Honor Your Parents

I believe there comes a point in everyone’s life where they should treat their parents to dinner. I know that mine always pay for everyone’s meal, but as I progress in my career over the next few years, I look forward to taking them out to dinner some time to repay the favor. Resentment can definitely build if you eat with your family and expect someone else to pay every time. Like the situation above, even if your parents or grandparents love to treat everyone, offering to pay for your portion might be a gesture that is appreciated, even if they turn you down.

So there, you have it: three situations where you should foot the bill. I know there are more that I’m not listing, so please leave a comment below and share your take on it.

photo by epsos

How Fitness Affects Your Finances

fitness and financesWe sometimes try to separate our lives into various boxes. There’s the social box, the faith box, the work box, and also the finance box and the fitness box. Though we may try to approach each area of our lives as if it were in a separate box, the reality is that many of these boxes are actually connected. This is especially true of the fitness and personal finance boxes.

Though it seems like an odd combination, there’s a lot of overplay between the two, especially in the way that fitness can affect your finances.

Fitness increases your energy level, helping you to do your job

Our ability to perform our work is intimately affected by our levels of health and fitness. In order to earn a living we need to have a sense of well-being and a minimum level of energy. Fitness helps with both.

By maintaining a regular exercise program, you feel better about yourself because you have more energy for whatever it is you need to do. Cardiovascular fitness, in particular, is helpful here. It improves blood flow and the functioning of virtually your entire body, and that improves your performance. The better you feel, the more you’ll be able accomplish, and ultimately the higher your income will be.

A higher energy level will also help you to make forward progress. As you improve your energy level, you’ll be in a position to take on new challenges more easily. This will include career challenges.

Creating a healthy diversion produces greater balance

The financial aspect of life has very long arms â“ it can affect nearly every other area of your life. It’s not at all hard to become obsessed with our financial condition especially at the extremes. If you’re doing very well, it’s easy to obsess over your success and attaining more of it. If you’re going through financially difficult times, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in them that you can’t see anything but.

Actively pursuing fitness provides you with an important diversion that can keep you focused on other areas of your life. There’s something about connecting with yourself physically that is so basic that it can pull you away even from those areas of life that you are obsessing over. Once you do, it takes you away from your most immediate problems and helps you to improve your perspective.

Better health reduces medical expenses and health insurance premiums

Probably the most direct benefit of fitness on your finances is the fact that it improves your health. That ultimately lowers your medical expenses. Because you feel better, you’ll be healthier, and that will mean fewer trips the doctor and less need for medications.

Better health can also help to reduce stress. When you feel better, you just feel less stressed. And if you focus at least some of your energy on improving your career and your finances, you will balance out your life which will lower your stress levels even more.

As your level of health improves, you may even see your health insurance premiums drop. This can happen if you see long-term improvements in areas were you need ongoing therapies, such as the use of blood pressure medications.

If you can overcome yourself you’re ready for anything

For most of us, the biggest obstacle we face each day is the person staring back at us in the mirror. We often think we are unable to face difficult challenges, and that thinking often flows from the fact that we sense a lack of control over ourselves. For example, if you are overweight this probably makes perfect sense to you. Your weight is by itself a constant obstacle that you may fee that you cannot overcome.

If you can be successful dealing with problems on the most personal level, you will be able to better face external challenges, such as financial problems or career issues. A certain amount of confidence comes from being able to control and improve yourself, and it will flow over everything else you do including your finances.

In a real way, adopting a better fitness routine can help you to be ready for whatever else you are facing in life.

photo by DVIDS

How To Thank Someone When They Give You Money

Throughout our lives, we might receive money for various things. This could include college graduation, a donation to your favorite charity in your name, a wedding gift, Christmas gifts, and the list could go on. I know that people have very mixed feelings about money and gifts. For example, I have a friend who really hates receiving money as a gift. I know, I know – It sounds a little bizarre. However, she would prefer for someone to go out and and purchase something with her in mind, which definitely makes sense. I, on the other hand, think receiving money as a gift is great since I can go out and pick out something I know I actually want. Regardless of your feelings on the subject, though, one thing we all have to do is thank the person who gave it to us (mostly because our moms told us so!) Here’s a good step by step to make sure it’s done in style.

1. Write It On Stationary

These days, snail mail is definitely a dying art, and that’s sad because a sweet, handwritten note just takes a small bit of extra effort. However, we’re more likely to sit down and throw out a quick e-mail to someone thanking them for their donation to our 5k race. However, you know how awesome it is to get a little bit of snail mail. There’s just something about opening the mailbox and having a nice note inside that can just make your day. The best part about getting into the habit of writing notes is that the giver will likely remember it more. This means they are more likely to do it again. Everyone loves a bit of affirmation and if someone knows that their efforts will always be appreciated, they’ll be more willing to give year after year.

2. Tell Them What You Used It For

When I was a kid, my mom always told me to write my grandparents and tell them what I bought with the Christmas money that they gave me. I am still in this habit to this day, and now I realize why it’s so important. Sure, it’s great to send a note that says, “Thanks so much for sending that $10. It was so kind of you!” However, it’s more meaningful to say, “Thanks so much for sending me that $10.00. Your contribution helped us raise $1,000 for charity! Those kids’ are going to be so excited when they find out they are getting new shoes!” It only takes a few extra minutes to jot down another line or two, and it makes the person really feel special for the gift they gave.

3. Be Consistent

People talk. (At least, they do where I’m from in the deep south!) Just remember that if you are going to send a thank you note to one member of the family that you send it to everyone else who gifted you something as well. It’s easy to forget or be more excited about the $100 bill than the $10 bill, but treating all gifts equally ensures you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

All I can say is that I’ve never regretted sending thank you notes. It’s always a nice, calming thing to do every year after the holidays or after my birthday. I just love getting new stationary and keeping up my address book. While I know that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s something about knowing that I’ll brighten someone’s day that keeps me doing it year after year. Plus, they get the satisfaction of knowing their money is being enjoyed and put to good use.

Do you give or receive money often? Do you like giving money as opposed to a specific gift that you bought at the store?

photo by lindsaydeebunny

5 Tips For Asking For A Raise

asking for a raiseEven though these are tough economic times, you can still ask for a raise at work, especially if you are well qualified for one. I’ve found that many of my friends and colleagues won’t take this step for fear of rejection or because they are uncomfortable with confrontation. The thing is, asking for a raise should be anything but uncomfortable. It’s essentially you telling someone (a.k.a. your boss) how hard you’ve worked, the goals you’ve achieved, and your plans for the future.

It’s an exciting time that could lead to big rewards, so I recommend taking it all in and enjoying the exercise. Remember, even if you are turned down, your boss will be aware of your willingness to improve and your hopes for the future. You never know when the next opportunity is around the corner, and having a meeting like this will put you at the forefront of your boss’ mind when that chance comes knocking.

While I can’t promise that each and every one of you will secure a well deserved raise if you ask for it (some companies have specific policies about these things), I can assure you that by following these five steps, you have a better chance of getting one whether it’s now or in the future.

1. Ask At The Right Time

Many companies simply can’t grant raises at the end of the fiscal year, so make sure you ask at the beginning of one when more funds are available. Also, keep in mind the stresses of your boss, if you know them. If he or she is going through a difficult time, it might not be the best time to ask for a favor. If they always meet with their boss on a specific day and are more stressed than normal, stray away from that time too.

2. Actually Schedule The Meeting

Once you have assessed the right time to ask your boss for a raise, now you have to actually schedule a meeting. Asking for a raise is a delicate matter that should definitely be discussed in a formal setting. While it might be easier to pop into their office and ask quickly, having a sit down will show that you are serious and on board for future projects.  This will also give you and your boss time to prepare. You can always explain that you want to ask him or her about ideas for the future if you’re looking for an excuse to hold the meeting without letting on what it will be about.

3. Ask Using Your Attributes, Not Your Needs

Many people fall into the trap of asking for a raise when they really need it. For example, they might be going through a difficult time financially or perhaps want to take their kids on vacation. Bringing up issues or hopes like these will detract from what you are trying to do, which is to highlight your own skills and expertise. Always list your qualifications for a raise. Never pull the sympathy card. You’ll gain more respect this way and hopefully, more of a chance of getting what you’re hoping for.

 4.  Keep Detailed Records

Detailed records are so important if you want to ask for a raise. This might showcase research you have done, meetings you have attended, and extra activities you participated in. Having these documents and presenting them in a highly professional way will make a positive impact. Think of it like a resume, except you are simply listing what you have already done.

 5.  Be Gracious

If you boss gives you a raise, be sure to thank them graciously and professionally. However, if you are turned down, be gracious about that too. Ask for recommendations on what you can do for the future, and don’t hesitate to inquire about a good time to meet to discuss the same topic again.

Ultimately, I hope these tips can help you to get that raise you’ve worked so hard for. If you have other suggestions, I’d love to see them in the comments!

photo by davidleesf

Affordable Romance

affordable romanceAs any man who has ever tried to impress a woman can tell you, a romantic dinner can end up costing you a small fortune. When factoring in valet services, bottles of wine, appetizers, two courses and dessert . . . the bill easily climbs into the triple digits. What’s worse, when you take a date to a fancy restaurant, it’s considered extremely taboo to ask her to stick to tap water rather than bottled. However, there are other ways to avoid racking up a ridiculously high tab. Instead of taking your lady out to dinner, opt for brunch instead. Equally romantic, the prices are less than their nighttime counterparts and many establishments provide complimentary mimosas and Bloody Mary cocktails for a reasonable rate. If it is warmer, sitting outside of an intimate eatery for brunch and people watching together is a viable substitute for the opulent setting that is expected during evenings. A second alternative is to take your date to an entertaining performance like a jazz concert or comedy show; though the two of you might end up eating there, your focus will not be on your plates so, naturally, both she and you will be inclined to order less. Of course, there is always the option of treating your date to a homemade dinner or preparing a picnic; your thoughtfulness and effort will not be wasted.

Another aspect of romance that can dig deep into your pockets is the giving of romantic gifts. Earrings, flowers, perfumes . . . you might find yourself wincing as you leave the jewelry store hundreds of dollars lighter than you entered. While there are, of course, some women that have come to expect their presents to be shiny, most women appreciate another aspect of the gift; the effort and thoughtfulness behind it. It is the spontaneity and not the sparkle of a gift that will wow her, so perhaps consider ideas like surprising your girlfriend or wife with delivered pizza when she and her friends are having a movie night. Consider your strengths and weaknesses when being inventive with gifts. For instance, if you are not a passable chef, there is no need to have her sick to her stomach after tasting your homemade sushi.

A honeymoon or romantic getaway can breathe fresh life into a relationship . . . unless you can’t afford the expenses. When you are spending savings that you cannot afford to be frivolous with, your stress-free vacation can turn become emotionally taxing as the guilt and worry plagues your thoughts. Perhaps you manage to ignore these rational anxieties . . . you probably will return having spent more than you originally intended and experience the financial fears tenfold. The good news is that you can still have your desired romantic holiday without significantly denting your savings. A good place to start is by investigate romantic hot spots that are within driving distance of your home; you don’t have to fly into another hemisphere to identify breathtaking backdrops, refined accommodations and invigorating local cultures. A more romantic, practical alternative to climbing behind the wheel of your car is to catch a train to your chosen locale, as this will provide opportunities to relax, soak in the surrounding countryside and do a little work, thanks to the Internet connection that is complimentary aboard many trains. Additionally, consider traveling during the shoulder season,❠the brief window of time that is sandwiched between the height of a destination’s tourism season (when the prices are significantly higher) and the time in which the weather turns undeniably unpleasant. By readjusting your travel dates by even a week, you can potentially take advantage of significant discounts. Another way to save money when travelling is to be weary of tourist traps,❠which includes restaurants. Just like a restaurant in New York’s Times Square is considerably more expensive than its Brooklyn counterpart, other cities have touristy areas in which prices are ballooned to take advantage of visitors’ ignorance. The solution is, therefore, to not be ignorant. Do your research prior to your travels and ask locals for advice, not the hotel concierge.

By not dropping outrageous amounts of money on dates, presents and vacations, you are preventing resentment and added stress, which ultimately helps to keep romance alive!

When Corey Lommer graduated with a  his degree  in Communications degree in 2009, finding a job didn’t come easily. Though he now is happily works in social media, the time he spent unemployed instilled within him the value of selective spending. He enjoys researching and writing about topics  like  which investments are reliable, how to maximize your savings, and    ways to spend less  without sacrificing quality of life.

photo by battled_void