Stress Reduction Blog

5 Common Leaks in Your Budget You can Plug Now!

5 Common Leaks in Your Budget You can Plug Now!

by Lora Fickett

Do you every feel like you bring money in, maybe more and more every year, but it all just seems to slip through your fingers?  You may have some leaks in your system that need to be plugged.  Pull out your previous month’s expenses, review debit charges and credit card charges.  Total up how much you spend in certain categories like dining out, entertainment, or lunches.  Here are the 5 common leaks that I’ve seen with my clients:

  • Magazine subscriptions that you never read
  • Automatic recurring monthly charges for items you no longer use or service plans you don’t need
  • Gym memberships, memberships to music or movie clubs, or other club memberships you pay for but do not use
  • Monthly monitoring fees for things you don’t need, ie. credit monitoring
  • Spending too much money every week/month on eating out for lunch and dinner

If you cancel some of these items or cut back on these spending categories the money will add up.  The key is that once you have plugged a leak, you MUST put that money you are now saving somewhere else or it will create another leak.  So open an investment account, savings account or add the amount you are saving onto a credit card or loan payment to pay down the debt quicker.

Don’t ignore your finances, plug some of these leaks now!


Holiday Stress!!!

Holiday Stress

by Lora Fickett

Wow have things gotten expensive and the holiday stress is at an all time high for many peoploe!  One hundred dollars used to go a lot further than it does now.  I have teenagers and a toddler and a huge shopping list.  In years past, I was shopping on December 24th, trying to get in the last minute gifts.  I was paying for everything in January if I was lucky.  I always felt like I was behind and I couldn’t enjoy the holiday.  The stress started the day after Thanksgiving and didn’t end until the new year when new stress took it’s place.  Can any of you relate?  But, this year is different.  This year is stress free!

How has this year become stress-free?  What did I do differently?  I am actually spending less money this year than I have in the past (I hope my children aren’t reading this, they would not approve).  Is that why it’s less stressful?  No.  I set a goal, made a plan, used a budget and followed through on everything to hit my target.  For me this was easy because I have the right tools to accomplish these things.  I knew who I needed to buy for, what I wanted to buy them, when I was going to purchase the items, how much I was going to spend and instead of having a December 25th deadline, I set a December 10th deadline.

Stress is when you have an issue that you don’t know how to address, don’t want to address or feel like you can’t address.  When you are given the tools to fix the issue, the stress goes away.  How do you get the right tools to fix the right problem.  Financial stress?  Give me a call.  Time Management stress?  I have a friend that can help.  Stressed about your health?  Learn to eat right and exercise and the stress will go away.  None of these issues are little and they are hard to fix alone.  Find a coach, don’t be shy when it comes to asking for help.  Life is too short to not enjoy each and every holiday.  Stress less this season, ask for help on your holiday list!

Happy Holidays!


Baby On a Budget

Baby On a Budget

by Lora Fickett

Many people come to me and want to start a family, but are afraid they can’t afford it.  Yes, children can be expensive, but for me at least, the benefits of having children far outweigh the cost.  I believe in planning for financial situations, so before you have your child, think of all the costs associated with an infant.  There may be disposable diapers, clothes, perhaps formula, day care, home renovations or at least baby-proofing the home, and car seat, stroller, crib at a minimum.  What does that cost look like, monthly, weekly?

Now, pretend the baby is here, start putting the amount you calculated for costs in a separate account.  Can you afford it?  Do you need to re-arrange some of your finances?  Do you need to find an additional stream of income?  The benefit to this type of planning is it give you not only piece of mind that you can in-fact afford an infant, but the 9 months that you are carrying the child you are accumulating an emergency fund.

What if you can’t afford a child?  Now is the time to be creative.  Start to collect slightly used infant items, like a stroller.  Start to look for ways to make additional income.  Perhaps you slowly decrease some of your living expenses, or resist making major purchases.  Pay off a vehicle to free up that car payment.  Move to a less expensive area that is nice to raise a child in, but not as costly.  Collect hand me down clothing.  The main thing is to prepare!!!   Especially in the first few years, your child wont remember what kind of pants they wore, but they will remember how much time and love you gave them.  So plan, prepare and start saving for the child and then have a stress-free pregnancy and a more enjoyable baby on a budget!

Focus to Succeed

Focus to Succeed

by Lora Fickett

If you watch professional sports you know the moment the receiver in football drops the pass, he lost his focus.  The moment the puck is passed and the player misses it, he lost focus.  When an archer takes her eye off the mark, the arrow misses the spot.  Losing focus is what causes all of us to not be as successful.

Have you just bought a new car and now it seems that everyone on the road has the same new car as you?  It’s because you gained focus on that vehicle and there are no more of them on the road than before, you are just noticing them because you are more focused on them.  How about when you are reading a book and fully engaged?  Do you remember everything you read?  Yes.  But what if there are distractions?  You may read the same paragraph over and over again.

Being focused is how you succeed.  What you focus on expands, so do you want to be focused on the good things in life or the bad?  The goals or the failures?  The mistakes or the wins?  It takes practice and effort, but if you start to change your focus you will truly change the outcome of events.  What is it that you want this month, this year, in five years?  Write it down, read it often, stay focused on those goals.  Stay focused when it’s raining, stay focused when it’s sunny, stay focused when your tired, sad, depressed, and stay focused even when it seems impossible.  When the thoughts of doubt creep into your head, replace them with thoughts of success.  If you should make a mistake or fail, focus on the lesson learned and how you have gained valuable experience to help you achieve your goals.  Life is a journey, enjoy it while you are on it and stay focused on the destination.

Stay focused, stay positive and you will succeed!

Spare Change

Spare Change

by Lora Fickett

Decades ago when people payed for items with actually cash, they would collect their spare change in jars and that was a savings habit for them.  Now many people pay with debit or credit cards and the idea of spare change is a thing of the past, but how do you develop a similar savings habit in the plastic age?  There are sites that promise to invest your spare change or donate it by rounding up your transactions, but what if you want that money for yourself or your own charities?  Here are a few suggestions:

If you use credit cards and pay them off every month, when you are paying your balance, round up to the nearest hundred and pay the card the amount you owe and the difference goes into your “spare change” account.  So if your balance is $1,245.25, you pay that amount to the credit card company and when you round the total up to $1,300, you pay yourself $54.75.

When you need to pay your mortgage or other loan payment, round up to the nearest dollar and use your spare change for the difference.  It’s a little, but over years it adds up just like the last generations spare change jars grew bigger and bigger.

If you use a debit card, you can actually take cash back on every transaction and put that in your spare change fund, or at the end of every month, pay yourself a flat $0.50 for every transaction you made and put that in your new spare change fund.

The key for all of these is to develop a habit of saving, you can use that saving for vacations, build up your retirement fund, invest in assets that bring you cash flow or whatever you like.  Once you start saving, you may enjoy it and you may want to do more and more of it.  That’s when the habit starts to snowball.  So many people live paycheck to paycheck and it’s all about doing something different, breaking your cycle and starting to improve your situation little by little is better than nothing.  Start saving spare change today!

Do Something Different! A Lesson Learned From a 4 Year Old

Do Something Different!  A Lesson Learned From a 4 Year Old

by Lora Fickett

I’m a reader, and often the books I read have topics that revolve around finances.  I’ve read authors that tell you to save, cut your spending, live with as little money now and pay everything off and you can have freedom later.  Other authors have written that you should work hard to make more money so you can live above your means, who wants to live within or below?  Then there are some that give you the advice to invest in the market, other’s say real estate, some say coins, gold, businesses or commodities.  How do you possible know what you should do to get ahead in life with everyone saying something different?  You must find the commonality in all that chaos.  It all boils down to two words…do something different!

You are doing a bunch of things right?  Going to work, taking care of your family, mowing the lawn, eating a few meals a day, watching television, hopefully going on vacation and the list goes on and on.  However, what are you doing this month that you didn’t do last month?  What are you doing this year that’s different than last year?  If you find those questions are hard to answer, then do something different!  The point of all the books I read in relation to getting ahead with your financial picture are education and motivation.  I myself coach privately and in a group setting via an 8 week workshop with the focus on increasing your financial IQ to help you make more money, manage it better and retain it to build wealth.  However, none if it will work if you do the same things as yesterday.  You must do something different, take the concepts I coach you on and apply them.

I’ve had the pleasure of spending the day with my 4 year old son today.  He has taught me a valuable lesson.  He is constantly doing different things.  He is increasing his intelligence everyday by doing something different and every day he gets bigger, smarter, funnier!  Today he has learned that if he wears his Superman cape, he feels like he can run faster.  He has looked at letters on the refrigerator and tried to figure out what sound each one makes.  He has put a leash on his dinosaur toy and walked him around the house.  Do you know what he’s going to do tomorrow?  i don’t know exactly either, but he will do something different and he will learn something new.

So take a workshop, read a book , go to a seminar, learn something new about money and implement what you’ve learned.  Do Something Different!!!

Customer Service – Differentiate Yourself

Customer Service – Differentiate Yourself

by Lora Fickett

At a recent networking meeting, a friend of mine, Pete Sabettini, shared some tips on how to provide excellent customer service.  He uses these principles daily in his management of Litttleton Storage Solutions, Littleton, MA.

Follow these 9 steps for excellent customer service in your business:

  1. Dealing with a difficult problem should be seen as an excellent opportunity to create a strong bond with a potential long-time associate or customer. How you treat the situation is very important, so do the very best to help resolve the issue without a high cost to your Company.
  2. After I meet with a new or prospective customer send them a hand written note thanking them for the time they took to meet with you.
  3. Confirm which mode of contact the person wants to be contacted; phone call, email, text message etc. Do it the way they would like.
  4. Always respond quickly and appropriately in a timely manner to a request, and if it will take time to get the information requested make sure they are aware and okay with the timetable you are offering.
  5. It’s better to spend a little money up front and keep a good customer, but know when to cut ties if need be.
  6. The people who tend to ask for an exception tend to request them always, so be very careful breaking your rules.
  7. Keep detailed notes on issues good or bad, sometimes you can use the information to help in other situations.
  8. Own your mistake it will help in moving on quicker.
  9. Even if you meet with someone that doesn’t result in business for you, try to find out what type of customer or vendor they are looking for so you can possibly help them for their own business, and follow up with a thank you note.

Thank you Pete for sharing this valuable information, it differentiates you from your competitors and hopefully will help us all differentiate us from our competitors!

5 Tips to Make the Most of Networking.

5 Tips to Make the Most of Networking

by Lora Fickett

How do you make the most out of those networking events that you attend?  Whether you are in business for yourself or representing the company you work for, we all at some point should/must attend networking events.  So apart from the appetizers and food, what are 5 things you should do to make the most of your time?

  1.  Show up early and network with the early birds before it gets busy.  Some events are well attending and your business cards will get lost in the shuffle, but if you are early the crowd is usually thinner and it’s quieter so you have time to talk to the people there without the chaos of the event.  Just fifteen minutes could be the difference between a good connection and a wasted night.
  2. Be unique.  Everyone wears name tags, what does your say?  You’re Jane or John Doe with XYZ realty…yawn.  How about if your name tag simple said “Jane – making the American dream come true?”.  People will undoubtedly ask you what it means, engage you in conversation and remember you for being different.
  3. You blocked off your schedule to go to the event, but how about time after?  I don’t mean block off time immediately after, I mean days or a week later you should block of some time for each and every event you attend to follow up with the people you did meet.  Whether it’s time to send out e-mails, make phone calls or even set up face to face meetings, the follow up is going to solidify the relationship that you started at the event.
  4. If there is time to speak about anything, be prepared to talk.  If at the event they open up the floor for event announcements, maybe a smaller group is allowing all attendees to do a 30 second commercial about their business, whatever it is, be prepared to say something.  The key is to stand out, this isn’t an middle school dance where you hide in the corner!  Sometimes speaking up is your turn to shine!
  5. Send a thank you to the organizer of the event.  Usually these people know a lot of people, so be polite and send a thank you.  It takes a fair amount of time and energy to organize events and there should be no end to the appreciation that is shown for the organized.  So make them smile and put a few sentences together to say what you enjoyed about the event and how thankful you are that they organized it.  A little appreciation will go a long way.

Now that you have these 5 tips, start looking for and scheduling networking events in your calendar!

How Can I Afford a Vacation?

How Can I Afford a Vacation?

by Lora Fickett

Summer is here and people are taking time off to go on vacation.  Some people are headed to exotic locations, perhaps the Caribbean is calling you, maybe Disney is your thing, but no matter where you are headed the two things you need to first consider are time and money even before location.  Many clients ask me, how can I afford a vacation?  Or maybe you take a vacation and figure out how to pay for it later! For some that are stressed in their job or that have limited time with their family, my answer is, how can you afford not to take a vacation?  So here are some thoughts about how to afford a vacation no matter where you are in life:

You are single – This can be a great time to do a low cost vacation if you can get a group to go with you.  It doesn’t have to be a large group just 2 or 3 other people will do.  Split the cost of the lodging, split the cost of the rental car or gas if you’re driving and you can save a ton of money!

You are married, no kids – So here, you don’t want to share a room with someone, but how about your house?  There are people around the globe that will swap houses with you for a week, so you can stay in their location and they can stay in yours.  So, maybe that’s too much out of your comfort zone, find locations you can drive to (cut out airfare), possibly have a kitchenette (cut out going out to dinner every night) and focus on an affordable location.  It may not be the all-inclusive luxury vacation you want, but it’s affordable.

With kids – I know from having 4 kids of my own that some of the most fun times we’ve had haven’t costed a dime.  Children, especially young children, don’t care how much a place costs, they just want to spend time with you.  A trip to Disney might cost $5,000-$10,000 or more, and sure it will be fun, but you could also take a little bit of money and invest in some camping gear and have fun at the many camp grounds in the country.  Personally, I’d rather rack up the memories than the frequent flier miles.

Older with grown children or no children – Maybe by now you’ve accumulated friends or family across the globe, go visit them.  You may have developed good friends that you wouldn’t mind taking a couple’s vacation and sharing a room and rental car with.  Or perhaps you’d just like a stay-cation and do day trips while getting things done at home.

The moral of this story is, take time off, find a way to have an affordable vacation without going into debt, and relax.



Giver’s Game

Givers Game
by Lora Fickett

It’s the beginning of July and its time to do something different this month and play the Giver’s Game. It’s a game that I’ve made up where the beginning of every month you put $10, $20 or whatever you can afford to give away in your wallet. Then by the end of the month, you MUST give this money away to strangers as you are out and about. Next month, do the same. It’s not meant to replace your normal charitable giving, it’s meant to “pay it forward”. So when you are in line at the coffee shop, at the grocery store, anywhere, pay for the person in front of you or behind you. Last month I was at a class that I normally take and I paid for one of the people there. They were at first confused as I don’t know them, then they smiled and said thank you. I like to think that smiled lasted for at least part of the day and maybe impacted the other people that man came in contact with.

I take this game to the next level if I can. When I’m out and I have a coupon I can’t use, I give it away to help a stranger save money as well. Last week, I brought my children to an amusement park where we have season passes. Last week we had “bring a friend free” coupons on our passes. Of the 3 of us, we only had one person we were bringing, as a young couple approached the line they asked if this was where you buy tickets. I said, no, but if you don’t have tickets please join us and we will get you in for free. That couple was skeptical at first, but joined us. They were overjoyed at the fact that they would be saving $136!! I’m pretty sure by the smiles on their faces, the smiles lasted a long time and their joy was spread throughout the day. They may in-fact still be talking about this stranger that saved them a large amount of money. My children have relayed this story to their friends as well, so I’m teaching them a valuable lesson for FREE!

Try it, it’s a fun and fulfilling game. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money, just a little to create a random act of kindness. Play Giver’s Game and feel free to share this blog post with your friends so they can play too!

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