3 ways to spend less on creating handmade products

I want to introduce you to my favorite business finance hack.

The concept is so simple but absolutely crucial for creating profitable handmade products that make customers want to come back for more.

Business Hack #1 – Spend Less while providing more for your customers

Well, Obviously!

Any intentional shopper is looking for meaningful & valuable products to meet their needs. It’s our job as crafters to provide both, without sacrificing our own business’s health.

So how do you do this?

This is my list of actionable ways to take your business from a Hobby (forking over HOBBY PRICES for your goods) to a small business running like a well oiled machine.

Break each step down in to easy steps and within a month, you can spend less money and add more value to each of your gorgeous products!

#1 Simplify your supplies

If  a trip to your craft room has you singing about your gadgets and gizmos aplenty, you might want to simplify the supplies you use in your work space.

Consider this the “Capsule Wardrobe” of supply closets. Choosing supplies that will match well with other fabrics, accessories, etc. to create products that are on brand and on budget. Sticking to one particular color scheme and design style will ensure purchased supplies can be used on future projects and will not go to waste.

Once you pick your favorite supplies that can be used interchangeably between your designs, its time to work on the next way to save.

Advanced

For those who provide custom work to their customers, consider creating a list/ swatch of the colors, fabrics and designs you do offer.

This avoids the “Skies the limit” issue where you’re spending more time tracking down those perfect multicolored beads instead of putting more time and focus on the actual project.

Your customers will appreciate the boundaries (less overwhelm) and you can actually ENJOY your custom projects!

#2 Find better pricing

When you’ve taken your hobby to business status, it is time to step away from the big box stores and purchase from suppliers.

Shop around for high quality and best priced items, including purchasing your everyday necessities in bulk.

Not only will this save you money, you can have these items shipped on a schedule to you! Working with suppliers that provide excellent customer service is a fantastic way to work smarter not harder.

P.S. – Request samples from your new vendors. Maintaining quality is the most important factor so it is crucial to sample products before buying large quantities of a supply.

Advanced

The best pricing usually comes with a contract attached. If you have a few supplies that are used on most projects in high quantity, consider finding a vendor who will give a 10-15% discount with a contract. You will want to request multiple bids from various vendors to make sure you are getting the best pricing.

#3 Ask for help

Raise your hand if you’ve ever spent hours doing something for your business that someone else could have done for you quickly and professionally.

It can be hard to pass off those tasks and pay to have them completed when we are trying to watch our spending. Even though you are naturally scrappy and willing to learn, the end product of letting a professional handle these things can save money and customer experience in the long run.

If it still isn’t feasible to pay for others to handle parts of your business for you, consider bartering for these services. Offer a skill you have in exchange for help (or education) in an area you aren’t as talented in.

Advanced

My favorite way to ask for help is collaborating with other makers. If you need a design made, photography, promotion, etc. you can work with a like minded business to add value to your current offerings.

Example: If you sell fine art prints, you can collaborate with a framing business to exclusively offer your customers a seamless transaction where they purchase art from you and then it is framed for them as a finished product.

Find resourceful ways to provide your business extra value without costing you extra money.

Start here

If your supply costs are a total mystery and the idea of breaking down what each of your handmade items are costing you leaves you tucked under your desk in the fetal position, I have a Free course for you!

This is a 3 day email course that provides the tools you need to spend just a few minutes a day learning more about your business finances.

I give you 2 actionable steps and formulas each day to learn the ropes of breaking down product costs in an easy to handle, totally manageable way.

Join me today in taking control of your business finances!

Click here to sign up for a 3 day course designed to break down your supply costs!

I hope this article was helpful for to you! If you have any requests for business finance topics, please leave them in the comments below!

How to crush your debt with a Debt Snowball

Remember when you received your first credit card in the mail? With your name engraved on the front, shiny and new, burning a hole in your wallet!

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You might have been the responsible type, insisting you would only use it for gas and essentials. Promising the balance would be paid off in full each month.

Or

You had plans of spending it on that gorgeous chiffon dress you didn’t have enough money for BUT you knew you would find a way to pay it off before the bill landed in your mailbox.

5 credit cards, a car and student loans later…….

You hear the words debt and you don’t know whether to laugh, cry, change your name, leave the country, start a new life, never use money again…..

If only conquering an insane pile of debt wasn’t something that would push you to the brink of insanity……

Two words.

Debt Snowball.

A simple system that allows even the slowest moving, turtles pace debt payoff plan to out weigh going it alone.

Why?

It’s based on momentum, not willpower!

If you’re like me….

Willpower isn’t your strong suit. You aren’t motivated day after day to sacrifice life experiences (or sushi) for the simple goal of being debt free.

Let’s see why the Debt Snowball can be your favorite companion for rolling that ball of debt right out of your life!

1. Simple Wins First

Nothing is more satisfying than simple wins.

Heck, sometimes when I’m making a task list, I write down items I already did that day JUST so I can mark them off my list. (Guilty as well?)

A debt Snowball starts with the smallest debt balance and focus all of your attention and cash on eliminating that debt first.

Before you know it, all of those “baby debts” will be off your shoulders so you can focus on the big culprits.

2. Momentum keeps you rolling

Ever heard the phrase “That snowballed quickly”? One decision combines with the next until something very good or very bad occurs.

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We want to use the power of snowballing for GOOD!

This happens so simply and your family will not feel deprived while paying off loads of debt each and every month!

How can that be?

After paying off that first debt, instead of going out to celebrate that money, you reinvest it in to your debt Snowball plan.

NOTHING CHANGES!

Instead of making the minimum payment on your next debt you now have the power of two payments to knock out that debt even faster!

Imagine how quickly you will eliminate your last debt (usually your mortgage) if you putting all of those old debt payments to work for you!

Instead of reabsorbing those payments back in to your budget and questioning where they money even went, you can crush the debt and become truly financially free!

3. Building a strong foundation

Wow! All that hard work is paying off! Guess what? You have learned so many lessons along the way!

Financial intelligence is not something you can gain overnight. You must live and learn from for the lessons to stick (AKA stop falling back in to the debt trap)

My favorite life lesson from the Snowball would be that temporary conveniences or flashy gadgets are not worth years of pulling out your hair!

Are you ready to start a Debt Snowball and reach financial freedom for your family?

I have a great freebie for you to get things ROLLING (see what I did there? 🙂

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Click here for your FREE PDF copy of the Debt Snowball Checklist & Debt Snowball Thermometer!

 

5 Easy Steps for managing business profits like a Pro

Building your very own business looks less like spending your days creating in a studio and more like a mess of business receipts, bank statements and unfiled tax returns.

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If you are ready to open the lid on the shoe box that is your accounting system and take control of your small business finances, here is a guide to 5 easy steps you can take for managing your business profits like a pro.

  1. Keep a separate bank account for all things business related.

Intertwined personal and business finances = Bye Bye extra cash!

You built this business from a non-money making hobby because you wanted extra spending cash but every time you make a sale, it seems like that money is spoken for before it even arrives.

Separate out your business income and see your new bank account begin to stack up! Imagine what you can do (or how you can grow your business) with a sizable amount of money available.

Not only on the income side but also using one account to pay for business expenses is a time saver! Having one designated account where money comes in and flows out will simplify your business bookkeeping immensely.

  1. Begin tracking your business financials

To grow a small business, you have to treat it like an actual business. That includes being aware of every dollar flowing through your business each and every month.

Tracking income, supplies, sales tax, business mileage and business expenses are necessary for understanding how much money your business requires to function each day.

This can easily be done with a simple spreadsheet, keeping all important business financial information in one place.

When you know your business this well, you can make important decisions that will help your business expand!

Looking for a business finance system?

Click her to check out the Savvy Business Finance Planner.

  1. Save 25% of your business profits

You know what stinks? Being caught at tax time with a bundle of cash owed to the IRS. Yikes. Not my idea of simple and fun business management.

Save yourself the headache by putting aside 25% of your business profits just for tax time. If you are left with extra money, consider it a nice little tax refund!

This is the best way to keep your business above water and running in the black.

  1. Keep 3 months of expenses on hand

You know the quickest way to sink a business? Allowing it to fall in to debt it cannot handle. To save your small business from the ebb and flow of sales, keep a stash of additional funds ready in case of an emergency.

This will also allow you to keep more stock on hand for your best selling items without worrying about how quickly they will sell. Having extra funds to back your business will keep things running smoothly and away from danger!

  1. Invest in your business

The single most important way to spend your business profits is on growing your business.

There are so many elements to running a profitable business and by choosing to learn from the best, you are increasing your business knowledge and your business’s growth potential.

So don’t be shy!

Buy that Pinterest or social media course with rave reviews!

Spend that weekend at a workshop teaching you how to cultivate your brand’s identity!

You won’t regret the money spend to make your business dreams a reality!

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Click Here for your FREE Business Profits Calculator!

How to step in to your dreams with confidence + success

This post is part of a series written by women, sharing their passion and expertise on topics they have cultivated in their own lives.

This article was written by Tameeka Williams from Savvy Nester Designs.

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What is your big, scary life dream? If you haven’t given it much thought your answer might be generic, a seemingly easy to reach dream that would improve your current life situation. I encourage you to Think Bigger!

Take a minute to truly think HARD about it. No worries, I will wait here.

You softly squeak out your answer, cheeks flush from embarrassment and a look of shock fills your face. Did I actually just say that out loud?

Yes you did! I applaud you for sharing your TRUE dream with me!

That’s the dream I want to hear!! The dream that is so big, this might be the first time those words have ever escaped your lips.

This is exactly where I want to start our relationship, on the level of discussing dreams that feel out of this world but give you life and passion that is unattainable any other way.

Your dream may look like overcoming a large obstacle in your life or reaching out for an adventure of a lifetime. Both dreams are scary, real and completely doable IF you take that first step.

I’ve had my personal share of dream following in the last 5 years. Some with success, others ending before I could see the true results of my labor.

Where would my life be if I would have jumped without looking back? I do not know but I’m 100% confident of the dreams I follow today.

From being a working mom, an ever-growing entrepreneur and a lover of all things self-improvement (minus the mushy, feel goody stuff), I’ve tackled my share of “First steps” and I want to share with you my Favorite ways to ensure a confident and successful journey towards a life of attained aspirations.

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Find joy in the imperfection!

Congratulations! You have created a dream inside of you that is dying to get out in to the world.

The details are coming together nicely and something hits you that stops you dead in your tracks.

The voice of lack fills your mind as you begin to doubt your ability to move forward.

  • “I can’t afford a personal trainer to help me get in to shape.”
  • “I can’t start a blog because I know nothing about professional writing.”
  • “I can’t teach others to do a certain thing if my life isn’t 100% in order.”

STOP! Your journey is a work in progress. You must start from square one, just as all those before you did. Nobody is born knowing how to do everything they dream of doing. Instead, they are resourceful and scrappy enough to try!

Start today by taking the first baby step towards your dream.

  • “I can begin by walking around block near my home.”
  • “I can start writing my thoughts and ideas on subjects I am passionate about.”
  • “I can share with others what it has taken to get where I am today.”

Do not let a lack of something in your life keep you from taking the first step.

Here is your personal push to click “Publish” on that blog post you have been agonizing over, put your walking shoes on for that first walk around the block and offering that client consultation with someone who’s looking to do better in your area of expertise.

Dream big and show gratitude for what YOU DO HAVE today!

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Find your Tribe!

#1 hard fact about dream chasing: It is as lonely as you make it.

You may try to keep this dream of yours under wraps, afraid to share in case things just do not work out.  For your dreams to stick, for your confidence to be bolstered, a diehard support system is essential.

This can look like:

  • A local community support group
  • A Facebook group created for like-minded individuals
  • A conference or event based around your dream
  • Regular conversations with a friend or family member who has been where you are now
  • A spouse or friend who believes in you and pushes you forward with support
  • A mother or grandma who cherishes everything you do (Your biggest fans ever!)

However you meet your biggest supporters, they are your ticket to believing in yourself.

Keep those people close and use them as a sounding board, especially when self-doubt creeps in.

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Find your Mentor, Tools and resources of expertise!

Mentoring is the greatest gift one person can give to another.

“It’s said that a wise person learns from his mistakes. A wiser one learns from others’ mistakes. But the wisest person of all learns from other’s successes”. – John C. Maxwell

One of my personal dreams was to own a creative business. I set out to do so with very little understanding of the business world and was of the understanding if I created a product, customers would flock. How Naïve!

After a year of struggle, I stumbled across mentors in my field that were blazing the trail for others and making sense of it all.

Investing in a mentor was the best decision I ever made for my business and I use this same mindset when I want to achieve other dreams.

The resources are out there, you just have to find and use them!

Tools are another FABULOUS way to start out on the right track.

These tools come in the form of:

  • Books
  • Questionnaires
  • Online courses
  • workbooks/spreadsheets
  • websites/blog posts

You can FIND the answer to most of your questions with a simple Google search (Mostly for FREE).

Be picky about what tools you use to shape your dream. They are the foundation of your beginning.

You are ready for your first steps! This is your push towards greatness! Take your first baby step, tip toe or wobble towards your goal TODAY. The only sure way to failure is never trying to begin with and I know you will do great things.

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Looking to jump start your dream? Join the Savvy Nester mailing list for information and materials created to make managing big lives and big dreams, Easier!

Maintaining Ambition when you are Tired or Bored

I have an idea!! A goal!! A dream!! It’s piping hot and I just can’t sit still with excitement for this brand new, scary, energizing dream I want to achieve!

Everyone has felt the effects of an ambitious mind, ready to tackle new projects with an energy source that puts the energizer bunny to shame.

Then, somewhere down the road, things become sluggish. You’re pushing, pushing, pushing but the results are just not as spectacular as they once were. You may be bored, overwhelmed or tired, just trying to complete the day to day tasks to keep things moving.

Most everyone has felt the stagnant air of lost ambition.

Sometimes what you started may not lead you where you want to go. Other times, you just need a recharge of your ambition batteries, rebooting the enthusiasm about your dreams.

Having been in both situations on repeat again and again, I have shared my best tips for maintaining and rekindling the ambition you once had for your dreams.

Determine the Outcome

Being stuck in a rut can be quicksand for any dreamer’s ambition. Too often, tasks and decisions pile up because our dream has no true focus, no finish line. By seeing the final outcome of your dream, you can work backwards to create a plan of action.

With the outcome in mind, your decisions will be streamlined and focused to reach the outcome you have decided for yourself.

Maintaining Ambition is 20% pushing forward and 80% being able to see where your dreams will take you.

Mel Robbins 5 Second Rule

Ambition can be directed by how we feel about our ability to achieve and accomplish our dreams.

Mel Robbins 5 Second Rule takes your self doubt out of the equation and focuses on making a decision in the moment. 

Her secret hack to staying motivated and maintaining her ambition each day is incredibly simple and powerful. When she feels pressured or unmotivated to act in a way that is true to herself, she counts down from 5, redirects herself and pursues that positive action.

I need to wake up an hour before the kids to give time for self care.

Alarm goes off

5…..4…..3….2….1…. I’M UP!

No procrastination, no negotiation, simply doing the exact thing you set out to do. Try this the next time you need to make that important business phone call, have dreaded paperwork (TAXES!!) or just need the rocket boost to get yourself back in to gear. It could change your life!

To learn more, check out this link:

Mel Robbins 5 Second Rule

Show Gratitude for your Progress

I think everyone, at one time or another, has lost their focus on a dream. You look up, see the chaos and reality of your life during your busiest season and wonder why you are even fighting anymore. You may even consider quitting your dream all together.

I can’t stress enough the value you are bringing by fighting hard for what you want. Behind your obstacles and barricades is fulfillment and joy unmatched by your current situation.

When an obstacle has you frustrated, tired and ready to throw in the towel, take a moment to show gratitude for how far you have come. 

Show gratitude for the tiny seed of an idea that you have been able to grow! Taking time to reflect and appreciate where you are today can show you that you are capable of more than you even know.

Redirect and Refocus

I love sharing my big dreams and goals with my family and friends. Having an amazing support system can keep you on the right track and chugging along with little resistance.

Unfortunately, sometimes those well meaning friends and family can give advice or have specific ideas of how things should look that we start down a path that isn’t going to work for us, unaware that it might not be right for us. It makes reaching our goals 1000x harder when we are not being authentic to what we believe or want.

Stop the projects that feel forced, unauthentic or that lead you down a dead end road.

Maybe its a custom project someone asked you to create for them that goes beyond your business’s scope. Determine if what you are about to do works with what you want for your future self. If it doesn’t, move on and leave the opportunity for something great to take its place!

You will feel the shift in energy when you have found the projects, tasks and vision that are genuine to your goals.

Your creative juices will flow again  and your progress will double, triple or even quadruple compared to the time you were spending on things that just didn’t resonate with you.

Now is the time to rekindle your ambition, take a leap in to the next chapter of your story! Believe in yourself and you can make this thing happen!

Did you find this encouraging?

Please comment below how you plan to maintain your ambition and move up to the next level of your dream.

Motherhood + Chasing Her Dreams – All Oil Everything

Photo credit: Kelsey Adrienne Photography

Puffs of lavender perfume the air as the Gonzalez family winds down for the evening in mom and dad’s comfy bed. The two youngest enjoy this time, squealing and squirming as they receive oil massages on their little toes, an extra measure to ensure a great night’s sleep. Sleep is essential for this active family of 6 and DeAnna, owner of All Oil Everything, has perfected the bedtime routine with sleepy time oil and monster spray.

While her family is tucked in for the night, DeAnna heads to her home office to begin work on her small business. Her social media presence coupled with her small batch, high quality products makes her one busy woman.

Onlookers can quickly see it must take patience and a fantastically organized mama to run her busy life. DeAnna has her act together and was gracious enough to interview with me as I attempt to find the secret to her time management skills and intentional living.

Her Family

Tell me about your current family, work and business life.

I am a full time working wife and mom of four. My oldest is away at college, my middle is my step daughter who is with us half the time and my two littles are busy with kindergarten and Montessori preschool.

My husband often travels for work and we have become really successful managers of our time and schedules. I have worked for all of my adult life, especially because I had my first daughter so young.

27DE523B-2135-41AF-AC3A-B6D6B4E52EA8What values are most important to you?

My family always comes first and I value the time I have with them. Everything else comes after that. Working is just a means to an end and definitely does not define who I am. I am a wife and mother first.

 How do you juggle family life, full-time work, a small business and your social life?

Work life….

Each day is different and a fun challenge to manage. I work early mornings so that I can be off work in time to pick up my kids from school. The special hour or two after we’re home is an amazing bonding time and I am especially grateful to have a job that allows me the flexibility in my schedule.

Small business…

I work on orders while making and prepping dinner or else it waits until the kids are in bed.

Social life…

Friends and family are very important to us and we have friends over at least a few times per week. Some of them sit in my office with me while I work on my business or they come over to distract the kiddos. I love my friends because they know just how and when I need the support.

Family life…

Weekends are reserved for family time, sports activities and parties! We love throwing parties and going out/being adults when we can. It is important to my husband and I to also have time for us due to our busy lifestyle.

How do you handle days or weeks where you feel overworked and stretched thin?

When I’m feeling overworked or stretched thin the first thing I do is clear my schedule. At least a day or two. I tend to pack in my days and weeks so having a day of “nothing” is a huge stress reliever. I’ll use that day for whatever I need: Catch up on orders, laundry or my DVR.

I allow myself to do what I need to get back to zen. I enjoy a “self-care day” quite regularly. These are days that I don’t go to work, enjoy breakfast with my children, take them to school and spend the rest of the time doing whatever I want.

What is your favorite way to refresh and renew yourself for another busy week?

I am a huge fan of journaling, indoor cycling, getting my nails done, shopping alone, decluttering my house and watching reality tv. I really value quiet and not “having to do” anything.

Renewal can also be time spent with friends, enjoying food or wine and laughing our butts off.

How do you stay organized with your home life and small business?

I write massive to do lists! I am a big fan of the makers lists from House of Hays, created by my bff Vicky Hays. I also set timers to keep me on track and alarms to remind me when to post social media or to stay on topic with my audience.

I have just started using spreadsheets to organize the back end of my business, thanks to Tameeka of Savvynester 😉 My husband and I sync up with our digital calendars and iphones!

What is your best piece of advice for parents trying to keep a busy schedule while staying present for their kids?

My best advice for busy parents is to SLOW DOWN. Take the time to listen and really respond to your children. In the end, your children will remember the time you spent with them. They don’t know about deadlines, have-to-dos and all that comes along with being an adult and they shouldn’t have to know about it until they are grown up.

You are their biggest and best role model so show them what a parent is supposed to be by taking care of yourself, staying balanced and loving your child through intentional actions and words.

4DCEB328-695B-46B2-B1A3-E592B6685F91 Your family loves to express themselves through their clothing and personal style, including your personal line of All oil everything clothing. How do you keep up with the high demands of laundry and messes in general on such a tight schedule?

Sunday is my typical laundry & “get ready for the week” day – I also like to preset loads of laundry before I leave for work – I can delay my washer up to 8 hours so all I have to do is rotate my wash when I get home!

As far as folding and putting away, I usually dedicate time during the kids’ last tv show of the night. It’s our settle down time and a perfect way to spend time with the kids while getting things done. I try to force myself to put everything away while they brush their teeth and get ready for bed but it doesn’t always happen.

I find that the sooner I put it away the better. Like right now, I have a basket full of clothes that have been sitting for a couple days! Last Sunday I delegated laundry to my husband and he is GOOD at getting it done so I’m thankful for that!

Her Business

What inspired you to start All Oil Everything?

I started using essential oils after my son was born premature. I needed a way to be proactive and protect my family in a simple and convenient way. I love creating recipes and am impressed by the numerous benefits each essential oil has.

I began making & sharing them with my friends and family. Some of them where eager to learn and create with me while others just didn’t have the time or energy but were still excited to get started with oils.

My passion is ultimately to help others and so I created my line with the idea that anyone could easily integrate the power of oils in their daily lives. My goal is to get them in your hands so you can have your own experiences, discoveries and relief.

For those who follow you on Instagram, it is very apparent that your children are welcome in your workspace. How do you keep productive and keep frustration to a minimum when you have “little helpers”?

I allow my kids to “work” with me – I encourage them to be creative and create at the same time as I do!

When I do need some “heads down” time I close my office door, set a timer and tell them I’ll be out as soon as I’m done focusing. I am their biggest example – it is important to stick to my word and set boundaries about when I need time to get things done and then stick to that allotted time.

My husband helps with distraction when I am really under a time crunch!

What are you next big plans for your small business, All Oil Everything and where can we check out your brand?

I am working on expanding my online presence by adding new products, converting my subscription service to a more user friendly platform and offering many more products on Amazon! My website is www.alloileverything.com

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DeAnna’s story is inspiring and many in the small business community are so thankful for her contribution!

DeAnna is the most ambitious person I know, I don’t know anyone else who can successfully manage about 47 different social media groups.

She is someone you can depend on to give truthful feedback, veer you in the right direction and help you stay the course. She is someone I consider to be a mentor and leader.” – Vicky

Thank you, DeAnna for providing a perspective of true intentional living, dream chasing and how you stay organized along the way!

Each of us has a story to tell and a passion to share. Comment below your favorite intentional family moment or a way your family stays organized!

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Looking for help with organizing your household? Check out these planners for home, finance and small business organization!

 

You might need a budget if….

If you spend time on Pinterest, you are well aware the topic of budgeting is trending! The resources for creating a budget and reading budget journeys are in abundance.

Have you considered jumping on the budget making, Aldi shopping and crockpot cooking bandwagon? If so, this little guide was created just for you!

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After years of researching and maintaining a family budget, I have narrowed down the amazing benefits and reasons a family would choose to forgo the paycheck to paycheck cycle.

Looking for a budget planner?

Click  here to see our collection of budgeting products!

Even better, read through the following 8 questions and if your answer is an honest, “NO”, you might need a budget to reach your financial goals.

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Q #1 – Does my current income provide everything my family wants, without increasing our debt?

Q #2Does my current income allow me to save for the future, including an emergency fund, without increase our debt?  

Q #3Does my current income allow me to pay my credit card balances in full each month?

Q #4Does my current income allow me to make all of my bills on-time?

Q #5Do I feel fulfilled from my current spending habits?

Q #6 – Do I put money towards my debts regularly, working towards debt free living?

Q #7Do I often have to miss out on important events or trips because there just isn’t enough money to go around?

Q #8In 5 years, will your current financial situation let you reach your goals?

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How did your answers add up? No worries! A simple budget can have you reaching your family goals in no time!

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The simple secret behind creating a budget is your new found awareness of your daily spending. Being aware allows you to refocus your income on more important opportunities such as quality purchases and debt repayment.

Take the plunge and commit to making wiser purchases, staying accountable to your daily spending and save money for a better future!

 

Looking for an easy to use budgeting system?

Click here to see an all in one finance planner to fit all of your financial needs!

Creating a useful work space

I have had the privilege of working with many different businesses to improve their organization. The #1 BIGGEST complaint I receive is space. Space to work, space to think and space to create. You don’t need a large home to find space for your home business but you do need a plan.

Creating a useful work space will not happen overnight. I mean it could if you shut down production for a day, sent the kids to a babysitter and had the willpower to work for hours on end. It’s not likely that you can give up that kind of time. That is why, I am breaking this lesson up in to 5 parts. We will tackle the biggest decisions first and add in the less crucial organizational pieces later.

Our mission here, today, is to learn what makes a great workspace work for you. Each lesson can be tailored to your personal and business needs. Let’s get started!

Looking for a digital organizer for your creative business?

Check out these products Here!

Designate a space

You saw this coming, didn’t you? That’s right. No more sewing at the kitchen table from noon until midnight because you just can’t finish a project without constant interruptions. Combining your work life and home life is the #1 productivity killer! Why?

  • Everyone needs you ALL THE TIME. Especially with small children or significant others!
  • Someone will likely lose or damage a project of yours. Think sticky PB&J fingers finding their way on to the half finished, crisp, white, dress you have been working on all day!
  • Mindset shift. We work better when our minds aren’t multitasking. I know when I am home my mind is juggling all of the little tasks that need completed around the house. The temptation to leave my work and make just one more phone call is too much.

Let your brain know it is time to work by creating a great space for that work to happen. This space preferably needs a door. For those living in a home where this isn’t an option, pick a corner of a room that is considered off limits to everyone but you. No snooping, touching or distractions when you are in this corner!

Once you have picked your space, clear it out. We want to start with a 100% clean slate. The only things standing will be your furniture of choice. Preferably a desk, book case and large organizer for those with lots of needed supplies.

Now that we have a great space for getting work done, let’s fill it with useful organizers!

Business command center

Every business needs a command center to stay on top of everything a business requires. Your command center needs to be a reliable place to find whatever you need to keep your business running behind the scenes. Everything should have a place and be in its place for less frustration and reliability. My suggestions for a command center:

  • A bulletin/ dry erase board for tracking current leads and orders
  • A business planner for keeping appointments, documenting interactions and setting goals. You can also schedule things like renewals for different parts of your business.
  • A computer or laptop for online portions of a business.
  • A scanner for keeping important documents without creating paper clutter.
  • Computer files designated specifically to your business needs. Make them easy to find and back them up on a flash drive or hard drive.
  • An in/out box for taking care of business. A great place to put things that need logged in your business spreadsheets! As soon as your paperwork is completed, scan it, file it away or throw it away!!
  • A filing system. It can be a simple accordion file or a drawer with hanging folders.
  • A safe place for equipment such as photography equipment, card readers, etc. so you know exactly where to find them and they are protected.

Your new work space is really taking shape! Work towards creating a space that you feel comfortable and happy to work in. Whether it is hanging inspirational quotes, making sure your space has a window or creating rituals that improve your mood and productivity.

 

Those are my tips for creating a useful workspace!

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Why your life is still cluttered.

Life clutter is the tangled little messes that keep you doing the same thing, day after day. Imagine the tangled mess of power cords living behind your computer desk or entertainment center. You know they are there but usually choose to ignore the mess. We do the same thing with our personal life clutter because it is exhausting.

Life clutter can start with your finances, relationships, work or any other big component of your life. When the big clutter is cleared out, all of the little clutter takes care of itself.

The simplest way to identify your life clutter is by comparing your personal values with the current state of your life. If I said one of my core values is having a healthy body but I haven’t eaten a vegetable that wasn’t fried in weeks, I have a big ole pile of life clutter. My life is obviously out of balance with who I want and know I can be.

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What is holding you back from clearing away some major clutter in your life?

  • It is difficult. Most of us prefer to stay in our comfort zone!
  • It is all we know. When we have done things the same way for years, shaking that up may seem risky and nerve wracking.
  • No one has shown us how! For this, you may need a role model. Sometimes those around us have good intentions but they are stuck doing things the way they have always been done. Finding a role model outside of our comfort zone can inspire us in ways we never expected.
  • We can’t see past our current situation. It might feel like you are going to be in this season of life forever. The decisions we make add up each day to change our future.
  • We can’t see the benefits. For me, this was hiring a professional to take care of important tasks. Once I finally changed my mindset, I couldn’t understand why I was so opposed to it in the beginning. Sometimes we need to take the time to research a subject and find inspiring “Whys” for our actions.
  • We haven’t risen the bar for ourselves. Our standards set what we expect from ourselves. If we never set the standard that we need to get our act together, it just isn’t going to happen. We become exactly what we allow or don’t allow for ourselves.

Can you pin point the life clutter you are avoiding each day? Wondering if it is even worth it to change now?

I want to share with you my personal story that started my love for organization. It starts way back as a newly wed. I was married just a few months shy of 19 years old. Super young and in love and thought I was ready to run a household. Even though we didn’t have much physical clutter, we had a big issue causing tremendous life clutter.

Our first home was a teeny, tiny duplex apartment, sharing parking with the auto mechanic shop next door. Each room was “efficient” with just enough space to sleep, sit or cook, not an inch of space to spare for storage or a dining room table. Fortunately, the price was right at just $365 a month and I didn’t think much of it having spent most of my life sharing a room with my younger sister.

Shortly after moving in, the concept of space was a never ending concern. Why you might ask? This young, 19 year old girl wanted a baby. Without a dollar to her name or a square foot of extra space to put a bassinet, a baby was on the brain. My husband and I talked it over time and time again. It just wasn’t going to happen with our current living situation.

That’s when the wheels were set in motion. Nothing motivates more than wanting something you can’t have and believe me, I was one motivated woman. It all started by finding better work.

I started working full time which gave us the extra money to move. I was going to save all that extra money so I could start building a better life and work towards starting my own family. Oh Naive, 19 year old self, that wasn’t going to happen! As soon as the paychecks rolled in, the money rolled right back out to the tune of a new car loan and a small lifestyle upgrade. We made the same mistake we had been warned time and time again about. The lifestyle creep. Spending just enough money to keep us in debt, living paycheck to paycheck.

How could we still struggle when the money coming in was double my original weekly pay? It didn’t take long until I realized we had absolutely no clue what our financial situation looked like. Sure, we paid our bills but now we were in debt. What would happen if one of us got sick? We were living blindly and it was a constant source of life clutter.

So I decided to take what I knew about creating Excel spreadsheets and I made my first budget planner. It was an eye opener! The first time I took a look at our bank account statements, I was blown away. We were spending double our rent on going out, fast food and groceries. Our money was being wasted at every turn. As painful as this first budget review felt, at least I was starting to get what was keeping us broke and frustrated. Now I had the opportunity to improve it because I knew exactly what part of our finances was weak.

I did research, picked my financial role models and set out to improve our lives. Within a few years, we were able to buy our first home and now have a sweet 18 month old boy!

Not only was I able to change my life in a few short years, I also removed a piece of life clutter that was bogging my family down. Now, when big unexpected expenses hit, our family isn’t scared, worried how we can manage another payment. Our financial life isn’t perfect but it an amazing improvement.

I hope my story has helped you identify a piece of life clutter that is closing doors in other areas of your life. Want to take action? Raise your standards of what you expect from yourself each day. Make it a habit to add or subtract whatever it takes to reach your goal. Research the right action to take and follow through. Find a community or role model to
Keep you accountable to your goal.

We all have room for improvement and when we take the opportunity to clear up life clutter, we open doors for the things we truly want t, providing space in our lives.

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My system for never making a late bill payment.

I must admit, for a good portion of my bill paying life, I stunk at keeping track of it all. I would get so frustrated with a company when one day late would cost me more and more money, sometimes even taking my precious deposit money away. One day, I had enough and a new system was born. I have been fine tuning it for years but I must say, no late payments have been made since its implementation.

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What is my secret?
I have to warn you, each step must be performed each month in order to keep your bills in check and timely. Otherwise, things creep up on you. One bill doubles in size and your whole system is thrown for a loop. What is my step by step system?

Tracking each bill
I use an Excel spreadsheet to track all of my bills so I don’t waste time recalculating totals as I try to put together my list of bills.

I keep track of EVERY SINGLE BILL. That measly Netflix bill or a monthly subscription has to be tracked in order to see what you are even working with. Begin by listing all of your bills.

  • Housing
  • Utilities
  • Health insurance
  • Car loans
  • Car insurance
  • Credit card payments
  • Phones
  • Internet
  • Subscriptions
  • Cable/dish/Netflix
  • Student loans
  • Memberships
  • Monthly medical payments
  • Anything else that is a monthly bill

These are your non-negotiable payments. They expect payment each and every month, no exceptions.

Next, list beside them, their due dates and due amounts. Try to put them in order from earliest due date to latest in the month. This will give you a rough idea of what payments should be made first. If you are behind on your bills, start another column for back payments that need to be made. You must pay this off before you can start making “on time” payments. It is still considered late if you are always trying to catch up.

Do a final tally on what your bills are costing you each month. This number may surprise you and that brings us to the next point.

Analyze each bill
Here is one of the harder parts that takes some real motivation to do. That is, cutting bills where you need to in order to make ends meet. If you can’t live off of what is left over after paying your monthly bills, cuts must be made to get on track.

You have two choices. You can cut or decrease services or you can call and negotiate.

Many times you can get an introductory rate on things like internet and phones. You may even want to switch services to a more reasonably priced company. Some companies will even drop their rate to match the competition so you can keep your current service. Take the time, make the calls.

If you decide you need to cut services to make ends meet, look at non-essentials first. This would be memberships and subscriptions. You might also be surprised how many memberships you are paying for monthly that you never use. Like that gym membership that hasn’t been used since the beginning of the year.

If drastic measures must be taken to get things back in alignment, find options that are going to give you the most bang for your buck. Maybe it is disconnecting your landline, going without internet and a smart phone. Whatever the situation, these changes must be made to get on track.

Pay your bills first
I never spend out of my bank account before figuring out what bills must be paid. My bills take priority and I can easily go down the line and pay my bills biweekly with my online bill pay account. My bills are handled by my bank so I have records and confirmation numbers that things have been paid. Plus, it takes me 5 minutes total to put in my payment amounts for each bill and hit “pay now”.

Once I have decided what bills need to be paid, I total up what they will cost. I keep that number with me so when I want to check my bank account, I can easily subtract that total from the amount in the account. That way, I am never confused on how much spending money I actually have and avoid the headache of overdraft fees.

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The bill pay puzzle
I like to think of my bills as a fun little puzzle. Biweekly, I decide what bills I can pay with my latest paycheck. These are planned in advance so I can save a portion of each paycheck for making payments. Then, I pay what bills are due first until I run out of bill money. If I have any money left over, I will either pay a small bill that is due at the end of the month or put that money aside for the next time I need to pay bills.

This is usually a puzzle for me because my husband receives irregular paychecks. Some weeks I have to make sure I have enough living money to take it two weeks and sometimes I can go ahead and wipe out multiple bills at once. I can usually pay my bills weeks ahead by being creative with how I spend my money.

I plan ahead
This is so crucial! I like to plan my bill pay money 2 months at a time so I can plan ahead and stay on track. Sometimes what is going on the next month would leave you broke and push your bills back until they are late again. This doesn’t happen when you foresee what is going to happen and set money aside to combat what the next month will bring.

For instance, since my husband is self employed he is not paid for vacation days or holidays. I make sure to take this in to account when estimating how much money I will have available the next month. I stay aware and the missed money is not a big deal because I took the opportunity to plan ahead.

Tax refund season
For those who receive a refund each year, do not miss out on this opportunity! Pay off any overdue bills, wipe out any credit card debt or loans. This will take the burden of bill pay down tremendously and you will thank me later! Each year, we choose to pay off something or if we have no debts, we save the money for something we really need or to save for a rainy day.

By starting to pay off some debts, you can open up the opportunity to save more money and give your family even more financial security. Bill pay doesn’t have to be overwhelming each month. Work to get ahead and things will begin to get easier.

My secret revealed
So what was my big secret? Being aware. Staying current and on top of your bills. Burying your head in the sand will not keep life from happening. So start digging in to your finances so you can see the opportunities more than you feel the challenges.

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