Archive for September, 2016

PostHeaderIcon WERE YOU BORN TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR?

By Vernalee
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Before you read this lengthy description, please know that I wasn’t born writing books or marketing plans! Certainty, I wasn’t born talking! I know many of you find the latter hard to believe, but it’s true. I do however believe that I was born to follow my passion and dreams. They placed me in the world of entrepreneurship. I am so glad that I landed there! Though a “Mom and Pop” operation, I grew up in a small business. The entrepreneurial spirit is in my bones. I love what I do! I’m happy!
Maybe, we might be joined at the hip in this entrepreneurial experience if this describes you. Let’s see.
Here are “50 habits that born-to-be entrepreneurs can’t help but show. How many do you possess?

1. You can’t sit still. You’re always itching to come up with something, and do something great.

2. You’re always coming up with ideas. Good or bad, the flow of ideas never stops.

3. You can pinpoint flaws in other ideas. It comes naturally to you.

4. You marvel at successful business owners. Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, John Johnson, Bill Gates are just a few of your heroes.

5. You get excited when you see a successful business in action. Whether it’s a local bar or a supermarket franchise, you can’t help but smile when you see a good business.

6. You constantly think of ways to improve your employer’s business. When you’re at work, you only think about how it could be better.

7. You hate being told what to do. You’re resentful of taking orders.

8. You love to learn new things. How To’s and tutorials are what you’re all about.

9. You take things apart to see how they work. Remotes, toasters, phones — you love to see the inner workings.

10. You dream of wealth. Money isn’t everything, but you can’t help but have it on your mind.

11. You don’t give up easily. You face tough challenges but keep going.

12. You’re disciplined in your habits. You have set routines that don’t get broken easily.

13. You aren’t afraid of hard work. You give everything in your life 100 percent.

14. You have a high threshold for risk. You don’t take blind risks, but you don’t stay complacent either.

15. You meet as many people as you can. You aren’t afraid to branch out and meet new people.

16. You talk to everyone you meet. Strangers aren’t intimidating to you.

17. You bounce back from failure. You’ve experienced crushing failure, but it’s never stopped you from coming back.

18. You like calling the shots. You like the sound of being a director.

19. You set goals for yourself. Big or small, goals fill your life.

20. You help people whenever you can. You’re interested in the greater good.

21. You find challenges in everything you do. You seek out opportunities to challenge yourself.

22. You find ways to inspire people. You’re inspired by inspiration.

23. You plan everything down to the little details. Plans are a prerequisite for any activity.

24. You’re proud of yourself. You like who you are.

25. You help your friends solve their problems. You’re great at problem analysis.

26. You effectively delegate tasks and assign resources. In household chores and business operations alike.

27. You set deadlines for yourself. No excuses.

28. You like telling stories. You love to tell people about your experiences.

29. You’re hyper competitive. You can’t even play a board game without flipping that switch.

30. You get involved with things. You always ask if you can help.

31. You cut out things in your life that don’t work for you. If it’s inefficient or bothersome, it’s gone.

32. You negotiate whatever you can. Flea markets and salaries are just the beginning.

33. You see the potential in people. You don’t see people for who they are. You see them for who they could be.

34. You’re calm in a crisis. When stuff hits the fan, you still think logically.

35. You follow up with people when you want something. You don’t let opportunities go.

36. You avoid things that waste your time. You’re immune to mobile games and idle social-media time.

37. You persuade people to your side. You’re a natural rhetorician.

38. You make rational decisions, not emotional ones. For the most part, you trust your logic over your emotions.

39. You don’t forget people’s emotions. Still, there’s great sympathy in you.

40. You lose track of time when pursuing passion projects. Time seems to fly when you’re heads-down working on something.

41. You frequently start new passion projects. Every week, a new idea is transformed into a hobby.

42. You constantly upgrade your house (or car or anything). There’s always something to tinker with, replace or improve.

43. You’re crazy about new technology. You’re addicted to learning how new technologies can improve your life.

44. You read the news every day. It’s an ingrained habit.

45. You read books voraciously. Every book offers something new.

46. You listen to that internal voice. You trust your instincts.

47. You listen to others’ advice. You make your own decisions, but listen to others’ opinions too.

48. You don’t dwell in the past. When bad things happen, you keep moving forward.

49. You make sacrifices for what you want. You know you have to give things up to see greater success.

50. You never write off your dreams. You take your aspirations seriously. They’re a part of you.”

Welcome to my world! This description fits me! I’m there! Are you?
Photo credit: www.colourbox.com; Source: www.entrepreneur.com

PostHeaderIcon EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER

By Vernalee
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Yes, experience is the best teacher! No, I am not singing R&B singer’s Miki Howard’s song that speaks about the same subject. She does have some serious vocal pipes though! I am simply echoing a truism. For sure, I am a proponent of the fact that we are taught many lessons that we learn in this life. Failures often are the best teachers. We get better and learn from our mistakes. And of course, I remember the old ladies in Mississippi saying, “You can’t tell that child a thing. She has to buy her sense.” Nonetheless, that is what experience does. The key is that we have to push our emotions out of the way and learn from them; which is easier said than done.
Experience, though a simple word, means different things to different people. However, in its most pristine form, experience is the “practical contact with and observation of facts or event; or to encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence). Experience is also the knowledge or mastery of an event or subject gained through involvement in or exposure to it.” There are various forms of experiences that we derive from physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, religious, social, virtual simulation, and other settings.
Whether we call it, training, maturity, practice, or encounters, experience is valuable.
It is safe to assume that we will learn more from things that happen to us in real life than from hearing about them or studying things that happen to other people. In streets terms, we call that “learnt” sense, which is different from the “bought” sense that borders on advice; and “I told you so.” Sometimes, I guess we just have to fall down to know what it feels like to pick ourselves up.
Everyone has chimed in on the experience relatedness. Remember these.
• Some things you won’t understand until it happens to you.
• Your best teacher is your last mistake.
• Only the journey matters.
• The only source of knowledge is experience.
• A mind that is stretched by experience can never go back to its old
dimensions.
• Lessons in life will be repeated until they are learned.
• Experience is simply the name that we give to our mistakes.
Whether we discount these phrases as just being expressions of the time, we cannot deny that this is what experience does:
1. We learn from experience.
2. Experience teaches us what we want and what we don’t want.
3. Experience transforms us into professionals.
4. Experiences are extremely impressionable.

We must be careful that we don’t allow our experiences in life to negatively affect our heart. Bitterness, hatred, and anger can walk through our doors easily. Replacing them with joy, love, and happiness are optimal. Our experiences have probably shown us that the latter scenario is the better one.
Every problem comes in our life to make us or break us. The choice is ours whether we become victims or victors.
Victories and success sound good to me! Agreed?
Stop! See what your experiences have taught you!
Photo credit: www.;etscelebrateourlife.blogspot.com; Source: www.heatherhuhman.com; www.searchquotes.com

PostHeaderIcon “WHEN THE CAT IS AWAY, THE MICE WILL PLAY”

By Vernaleeimage
When (or while) the cat’s away, the mice will play is a phrase suggesting that people will naturally take advantage of the absence of someone in authority to do as they like. We know the drill all too well. We grew up with it. Behind our parents’ back; when the teacher left the room; or when our boss is no where around; we have a field day! When no one is watching, it is free time to do as you please.
As I reflect and visually travel back in time, my then young son, Scooter was glued to the tube on Saturday Mornings as he loved the cartoon, “Tom and Jerry.” I watched it too! Their chase was unreal and never ending. It kept excitement in the air or on the tube I should say. Tom, the fast paced cat, and Jerry, the mischievous mouse were always in the chase. Neither ever took a break. That concept will eventually grow old. The required associated energy becomes too much! Don’t you think?
The flip side is being alone. Even the smart mouthed kid in the movie, “Home Alone,” learned survival techniques when he was inadvertently left by his family.
Let’s take a look at other similar proverbs.
The cat is mighty dignified until the dog comes by.
It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.
Opportunity makes a thief.
Make hay while the sun shines.
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.
When fortune smiles, embrace her.
Hares may pull dead lions by the beard.
If the dog is not at home, he barks not.

In summary, make productive use of your time. You can’t get it back. Stop playing solitaire. Get busy. Your time is too valuable. God gave you the same abilities (and time) as everyone else. Don’t waste them. You really don’t have time to play cat or mouse games. Agreed? Though the cartoon characters, Tom and Jerry, mischievously chased each other, you should energetically, chase your dreams! Make them a reality! Stop waiting and depending upon other folks to make it happen for you. Look! Expectantly, they are busy chasing their own (dreams)! The answer my friend is not blowing in the wind. The answer is YOU!
Photo credit: www.clipartisland.com

PostHeaderIcon ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF

By Vernaleeimage
With age comes wisdom. Hindsight gives us 20/20 vision. When we reflect upon our past, there are so many things that we would have done differently. Right? Unfortunately, we cannot turn back the hands on the clock. We can however, learn from our mistakes and not make them over and over again. We can give advice so that others don’t make the same mistakes that we did. Whether they listen, well that’s another thing. Reflecting back, we didn’t always listen either. We lived out the axiom, “Learnt sense is better than bought sense.” Some of the lessons that we learned were paid at a hefty price! Remember?
So if you had to give advice to your younger self, what would you say?
Here’s what Oprah said in O Magazine in May 2012 that she would have written to her 19 year old ” brown skinned” self.
“You’ve spent too many days and years trying to please others and be what they wanted you to be,” she writes. “You will have to learn that the wounds of your past — rape, molestation, whippings for ‘stepping out of place,’ and not being allowed to show anger or cry afterward — damaged your self-esteem,” she says. “Even then you understood that success was a process and that moving with the flow of life and not against it would be your greatest achievement,” she says.
Actress Octavia Spencer writes, “As you make your way along life’s tumultuous highways, it’s important to note that you should always carry a map, have plenty of fuel in the tank, and take frequent rest stops.”
CEO Nelson Wang has one simple piece of advice to his younger self:
“Enjoy the moment.
You never know when this wonderful journey called life will come to an end and it’s important to remember that every single day is a blessing.
All too often we get caught up in the journey. The chase. The work.
Just remember to take a moment to breathe. To reflect. To enjoy. You’ll be much happier.”
Great advice so far! Agreed?
If you want to stop now, that’s fine. If you wish to keep reading and have the time, allow me to share 20 more points. Be my guest. Here goes.
20 things to have told your younger self…
“1. That ex-boyfriend of yours who always wanted you to dress up, wear heels, and look sexy for him all the time, isn’t and never will be “the one”. Your future husband will think you look sexy in sweats and encourage you to be the realest version of yourself you’ve ever been.
2. The people who tell you your dreams are crazy and you should get a real job will still be stuck in the same place they are 10 years from now. You don’t have to be, so keep pursuing your dreams and never give up.
3. Your true friends are the ones who are there for you, who listen to you and who support you in healing, but don’t enable you to play the victim in your own life. True friends will empower you to grow.
4. Giving your power away never ends well. In the moment, taking responsibility might seem like the most painful route, but trust me when I say that taking ownership over the choices you make in life will save you from a lot of healing work in the future.
5. If making-out and sex are the only activities you get up to with the guy you have a crush on, he’s not going to make you his girlfriend. Guys who are in it for more than just physical interaction will call to ask how your day was, take you for walks, and introduce you to their friends. Don’t convince yourself that you can trade sex for love, it never works that way.
6. Your brain doesn’t fully develop until the age of 24. You’re going to make mistakes, a lot of them. Consider the possibility though, that your mistakes are actually lessons.
7. When you are lashing out at someone you love, it’s actually because you’re hurting a lot inside and you have something you want to say but don’t have the courage. Say it anyway. Be clear about what you want, what you don’t want, and what you need. People will respect you more, and you’ll be a whole lot happier too.
8. You are not invincible. Sleep at least 7 hours a night, drink water instead of booze at a party, and skip the drive-thru. Drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or pulling all nighters every weekend will eventually catch up to you. It might not happen until your 30’s or 40’s, but healing is always more challenging than prevention. Take care of yourself while you’re young and spare yourself the trouble.
9. Don’t give up on your talents and hobbies. If you love sports, playing music, or writing, keep doing it. If you ask most adults who gave up, they’ll tell you how much they wish they would have continued on with their piano lessons, or followed their hearts and pursued their athletic career.
10. Failing is winning. This might sound funny to you now, but believe me when I tell you that all of your failures are laying out a path for you to succeed big-time. It’s better to fail before you make it, than to fail when you’ve already made it and lose everything due to lack of experience. And even if you do lose everything, you can make it all back and then some. Life is full of surprises, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.
11. Be consistent. Being flaky doesn’t just impact your relationships, it impacts your self-esteem and anxiety levels. When you say you’re going to do something or be somewhere, follow through. This also ensures you think twice before committing to something that doesn’t actually inspire you.
12. Practice saying “no” in the mirror. There will be times where you’ll have to tell someone “no” and it will scare you, but you have to set boundaries for others or you’ll end up feeling used.
13. It’s no one else’s fault when you’re not happy. Sure, there may be people in your life who don’t belong there, but it’s up to you get rid of the people who bring you down, call you names or make fun of you for dreaming big.
14. Never take nutrition or dating advice from the wrong magazines. If you really want to be healthy or have a good relationship, read books, rely upon proven/legitimate sources, and listen to your intuition.
15. Your intuition is almost always right. If your gut tells you the new guy is bad news, walk away. As you get older, you’ll come to trust that your gut is your most trusted advisor.
16. Sometimes your mom is actually right. It may be virtually impossible to convince you to take the advice your mom gave you over dinner one night, but chances are she learned the hard way. Learning your own lessons is very important, but feel free to skip and move ahead once in a while by learning from people who have “been there, done that”.
17. Don’t rush to grow up. One day, you’re going to be married, have kids, or comment on how your cat is so lucky that they don’t have any responsibility. Just enjoy this time you have to be young, and hopefully care-free.
18. Save your money and never put all of it into a joint bank account with a boyfriend. Make sure you take care of yourself first and have a nest egg set aside just in case there’s an emergency, or change of heart.
19. Your natural hair color is and always will be the prettiest. You were made perfect exactly how you are. It’s ok to experiment, just remember that changing the way you look can never change who you are inside, and that is what matters most.
20. Everything is going to be ok. You’re going to lose people, get your heart-broken, feel alone, and totally depressed. Nothing is ever permanent, so next time you’re wrapped up in thoughts of how awful everything is – visualize the way you want things to be instead. Eventually, the tide will turn and life will be more amazing than you ever thought possible.”
So, if you made it this far, thank you for continuing. Now then, if you could turn back the clock and give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Photo source: O Magazine courtesy of Huffington Post; Source: www.huffintonpost.com; www.quora.com; www.youngandraw.com

PostHeaderIcon EXTENDING AN OLIVE BRANCH

imageBy Vernalee
To extend an olive branch is to make an “offer of peace or to approach a foe in the spirit of conciliation. Biblical in origin, the phrase is derived from the story of Noah, where a dove delivers Noah an olive branch as a sign that the flood waters were receding. Historically and interestingly, olive branches were symbolic of peace as well as victory.
At some point in our lives, we may consider extending an olive branch to settle a dispute or resolve an issue. Some people believe that it takes an immense amount of courage to take this action, as it often comes with an admission of wrongdoing and regret.
Therefore, the offer of an olive branch would suggest that someone is tired of of fighting, whether it is an actual real life battle or a falling out between friends.
If you’ve ever seen an olive branch, it’s not very strong. It’s actually quite delicate. It’s so light that a dove could fly with it with ease.
It’s interesting that something so fragile carries the weight of one of humanity’s powerful gift: forgiveness.
To forgive someone is an essential element of peace. How can you be at peace with someone against whom you hold a grudge? Forgiveness is also part of the golden rule. We all long to be forgiven when we’ve messed up. We all want a fresh start. It only makes sense to give the thing that we want the most of from other people.”
It’s critical and indeed healthy that we move on. Forgiving and being forgiven are integral parts of that process. Saying, “I’m sorry” goes a long way. Apologies are golden. It’s essential that we make peace offerings. Why continue to be miserable? Bury the hatchet and the grudge. Don’t allow the anger, anxiety, or misstep that caused the problem and the frustration build up in your heart and take a seat in your soul. Shake if off. How else will the sprinkles of rain stop falling in your life? Be the bigger person. Extend the olive branch! You have everything to gain; little or nothing to lose. Be at peace with yourself … and others!
Photo credit: www.how-to-cope.com; Source: www.grammarist.com; www.wisegeek.org; www.beliefnet.com

PostHeaderIcon AMAZING MIRACLES IN THE BIBLE

By Vernalee
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Our faith brings these ancient miracles to life. Visually, because of faith, you can see them take place in mind. Spiritually, the power of the Lord and all of his greatness is right before your eyes as the scenes lie buried in your heart. Let’s walk back in history and see God’s greatness in the form of miracles.

This list looks at ten of the more amazing miracles described in the Bible.
*Jesus Exorcises Legions.
*Ten Plagues of Egypt.
*Jesus Walks on Water.
*Balaam and his Talking Donkey.
*Crossing of the Red Sea.
*Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand.
*Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead.
*Joshua Stops the Sun.
*The resurrection.
*The creation – “Let there be light.”

10. Jesus exorcizes legions.
There was this particular demon-possessed man as he calls himself, “Legion, for we are many.” The Son of God simply tells them to leave the man. They beg to enter a nearby herd of pigs, and Jesus permits this. The herd goes insane and swarms off a hillside into the sea, all drowning.
9. Ten Plagues of Egypt
This one has been subjected to scientific analysis, but we know that it was the power of God. The interesting part is that the first plague is blood. The Nile runs red, and all the fish die. This could have been red toxic algae (red tide), or a volcanic eruption depositing red-colored earth and silt into the water. Once the fish die, the frogs, leaving the dirty water, would die on land. Then the flies would increase terribly to feed on the frog carcasses. Then the livestock would die from fly-bites (anthrax, malaria, etc.). Anthrax transmits from cattle to human in the form of boils and sores. Then fiery hail, perhaps from the volcano eruption. Then locusts descend to feast on whatever crops are left after the hailstorm destroys them. Then darkness, perhaps via eclipse or the locusts themselves. The death of the firstborn is not easy to explain, but the oldest child of a family, at that time, was given first choice of food, which by then, would certainly all have been diseased. Although there is this scientific analysis; for certain, it was definitely a miracle from God.
8. Jesus walks on water
It is one of his most famous miracles. Jesus does it to show his Disciples that they can do anything, if only they will believe in themselves as his Disciples. Imagine seeing a man walking nonchalantly 3 miles across the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee at night, and arriving at his Disciples’ boat just before they reach the other shore.
7. Balaam and his Talking Donkey
Balaam tries to curse the Israelites 3 times, and 3 times God changes his curses to blessings. But this is after he has a vision of an angel standing in the road. Actually his donkey sees it first, and refuses to go near it. Donkeys are quite smart, and this story is written quite accurately to that end. Three times the donkey refuses and three times Balaam beats her. “Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?’Balaam answered the donkey, ‘You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.’The donkey said to Balaam, ‘Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?’‘No,’ he said. Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown. The angel of the LORD asked him, ‘Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.’”Imagine sitting on the roadside and seeing this all happen. Only the donkey, and then Balaam, can see the angel. But the donkey plainly opens her mouth and speaks Hebrew! With proper grammar! Priceless.
6. Crossing of the Red Sea
Perhaps, this is the most famous miracle in the Bible. Cecil B. DeMille instilled it in the household imagination with his fine 1956 epic with Charlton Heston. But this depiction is not quite right. The parting occurs immediately in the film, but in the Bible, the Egyptian and Israelite armies oppose each other all day and night, separated by a pillar of fire and smoke. All that night, a strong east wind, thus blowing into the backs of the armies, forward across the Sea, blows back the water and creates a narrow path, until by dawn, the seafloor is dry ground and the water stands up like walls on both sides.It would definitely have been an awesome spectacle. The Egyptians were just a tad foolish for following the Israelites down between the walls of water.
5. Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
It is in all 4 Gospels, so the writers must have considered it important. In Matthew 14:13-21, he feeds 5,000 men, not counting women and children, which might have placed the number at 10,000, maybe more. He has only 5 loaves and 2 fish (7 total), after which, his Disciples collect 12 basketfuls of uneaten leftovers (12).He does this a second time in Matthew and Mark, feeding 4,000 men, besides women and children, with 7 loaves, a few fish, and collecting 7 basketfuls of leftovers. The number 7 is interpreted as perfection. 12 is the number of the Tribes of Israel. It certainly would have boggled the mind to anyone watching closely. How did he continue to reproduce the food? There was no description of manna and quail from Heaven. He simply blessed it, broke it, and had his Disciples distribute it.
4. Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead
Imagine if you were standing in Bethany, just east of Jerusalem, among the crowd of mourners. Jesus is walking in, and another crowd is following him. But Lazarus has been dead for 4 days. Jesus is too late to heal him. Yet, he breaks down and weeps. The best part is when Lazarus’s sister, Mary, tells him, “My Lord, he has been dead for 4 days. There will be a bad smell.” Yes, the smell of rot. Jesus isn’t perturbed, but tells her to have the tomb opened. He commands Lazarus to come out, and he does so, wearing his burial linens.
3. Joshua Stops the Sun
Joshua does battle with the Amorites in Gibeon, somewhere north of Jerusalem. Not only does Joshua and his army rout the enemy army, but as they flee the field, God Himself rains down hailstones on them, which kill more of them than the Israelites kill. The fight apparently seemed to Joshua as if it would take so long, given the huge numbers of men, that Joshua entreated the Lord to stop the sun and moon, so the day would last long enough for the Israelites to do their thing. Most importantly, Joshua had arranged his army to attack with the sun at its back. Classic field tactic.Imagine 12 hours of midday sun, no shadows, and then: it doesn’t go away! 12 more hours of midday sun! And then the next day begins anyway, so: the Lord acquiesced to stop the rotation of Earth.
2. The Resurrection
You do not need to believe it to understand the awesomeness of what it means. There are, according to the Bible, only two people who did not suffer the bitterness of death: Enoch and Elijah. The first simply walks with God and is no more. The second is taken to Heaven in a fiery chariot and whirlwind. Jesus actually does die. But he is the only person in the Bible who revives himself. For three days, he is dead to the world. 3 days later, his spirit returned to his body and he got right back up. He Goes Home. He defeats death.
1. “Let There Be Light”
It has been depicted many times in films, educational programs, etc., as a massive burst of light in all colors, quickly forming into galaxies, stars, later planets and such. But, the creation of light never made a sound.
What a mighty God we serve!
Happy Sunday! Blessings!
Photo credit and Source: www.listverse.com

PostHeaderIcon “READ THE SIGNS” – 31 SIGNS THAT YOU ARE FINANCIALLY STABLE

By Vernalee
31-signs-youre-financially-stable
Financial freedom and finances are topics that many of us worry about, know little about, and/or are afraid to discuss. This article provides tidbits that will help improve our financial stability. Take heed as I did. Financial expert, John Schmoll provides 31 SIGNS THAT YOU ARE FINANCIALLY STABLE. He authors frugalrules.com, an on line community to financial literacy and freedom. Let’s get started, see what we have to do, and work toward our goal. Here we go!
YOU CAN HANDLE AN EMERGENCY
Emergencies happen all the time. How big of an emergency can you handle? A majority of individuals can’t handle a $400 emergency. Many say you need to have a 6-12 month emergency fund. It may feel overwhelming to get to that amount. Don’t let that stop you! Start with $500 and build from there.
YOU HAVE NO PROBLEM SPLURGING ON YOURSELF
What does splurging have to do with financial stability? A lot in fact. It means that your budget can withstand that special purchase without a negative impact.
YOU INVEST EVERY MONTH
Many folks think that you need a lot of money to start investing. Being financially stable means you invest regularly. Whether that be in your 401(k) plan or in an online brokerage account or some other form, you’re actively growing your wealth every month.
YOU HAVE A LOW DTI
DTI, or Debt-to-Income Ratio measures your monthly debt obligations against what you make. Thus, lower is better.
YOU USE CREDIT CARDS WISELY
Those who aren’t financially stable use credit cards to buy things they don’t have money for or to finance the kind of life they want but can’t afford. If you use a credit card for convenience, to stretch your budget or to take advantage of rewards then you’re likely financially stable.
YOU PAY OFF YOUR CREDIT CARDS EACH MONTH
If you pay off your credit cards in full every month then you’re financially stable.
YOU DON’T FIGHT WITH YOUR PARTNER
Finances are one of the biggest reasons for divorce in America. Whether that be due to financial infidelity, or some other reason it can wreak serious havoc on a marriage. Financial stability, on the other hand, means you and your spouse are on the same page financially and are working towards common goals.
YOU CAN SLEEP AT NIGHT
I believe this is the most important part of being financially stable. Peace of mind is a huge indicator of being financially stable.
YOU’RE NOT UNDERWATER ON YOUR CAR
A financially stable person sees cars as a depreciating asset and thus believes it is senseless to owe more than a car is worth. This doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a car payment, but it means you don’t extend the car loan for so long that you owe more than it’s worth.
YOU’RE NOT SCARED OF THE FUTURE
A financially stable person smiles at the future. They’re excited for the opportunities and what they may bring about. Financial instability, on the other hand, stokes fear about what retirement may look like or if you’ll be free of debt.
KILLING DEBT IS YOUR TOP GOAL
Attacking debt is the top goal of those seeking financial stability. Debt enslaves you to someone/something else and restricts freedom. A financially stable person has a plan to kill debt or is already debt free.
YOU LIVE BELOW YOUR MEANS
Many financially sound people do one thing really well – they live on less than they make.
YOU TRACK YOUR SPENDING IN SOME FASHION
Budgets don’t work for everyone. That doesn’t mean you don’t track your spending. Being financially sound means you know where your money is going and how it is working for you.
YOU CAN HANDLE LARGE PURCHASES
Large purchases are somewhat relative. Regardless of what it is, you’re able to make large purchases because you’ve planned for them.
YOU’RE FINANCIALLY NAKED WITH YOUR PARTNER
Remember the thing about not fighting above? Being financially naked with your partner is a big key to that. A financially stable person bares all things financial with their partner – not just the good parts.
A JOB LOSS ISN’T THE END OF THE WORLD
Losing a job can be traumatic. Financial stability allows you to roll with the punches of a job loss thanks to an ample emergency fund and other savings.
YOU MAKE EXTRA MONEY ON THE SIDE
Making extra money can mean many different things. It may mean you actively take on new roles in your day job. It may also mean starting a side hustle to make a few extra bucks in your free time. Bonus points – for using the money to kill debt or invest.
YOU’RE NOT UNDERWATER ON YOUR HOUSE
A financially stable person isn’t going to be underwater on a home. That’s a sign of buying too much house or not planning.
YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH
A financially stable person sees the impact health has on their finances – both short and long-term.
YOUR NET WORTH GOES UP EACH YEAR
This is really the culmination of everything. A financially stable person seeks to grow their net worth yearly.
YOU CONTROL YOUR FINANCES – NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND
What do your finances look like? Are you in control of them, or do they control you? Financial stability means you have the control so you get to decide where your money goes, not the other way around.
YOU CAN BUY WHAT YOU WANT
Financial stability provides the freedom to buy what you want. You’ve set aside the money and can do so with freedom from fear of how you’re going to afford it. If this describes you, then you’ve reached financial stability.
SPENDING MONEY JUST TO SPEND DOESN’T APPEAL TO YOU
On the flip side of the above, you know you can afford what you want but you see many other ways to put your money to better use. In short, spending simply doesn’t appeal to you – even if you can afford it.
YOU AUTOMATE SAVINGS
See it as a bill to your future that works even while you sleep. Automate your savings.
YOU HAVE PLANS
This is purposely broad. A financially stable person plans for the future. They save for retirement, they buy life insurance and they save for their children’s college education. The level of each is personal, but financial stability means you plan for them all, and others, so you can act with confidence.
YOU GET RID OF BAD HABITS
It’s crazy how much we spend on our bad habits. We’re all prone to them, but a financially stable person actively seeks to cut those bad habits to save money every month and grow the money instead of flushing it down the toilet.
YOUR CREDIT SCORE DOESN’T SCARE YOU
Credit scores aren’t perfect by any means. A financially stable person has a good credit score so when they do need to borrow they get the best rates possible.
PAYING BILLS DOESN’T SCARE YOU
Does the thought of paying your bills every month make you break out into a cold sweat? A financially stable person pays their bills each month with little fanfare as there are no surprises and you still have money left in your bank account when it’s over.
YOU CAN GIVE WITHOUT FEAR
You’re able to give with ease and not in fear of what it might do to your finances.
YOU DON’T BOUNCE CHECKS
A financially confident person knows what they have in their bank account and doesn’t watch their checks bounce like a rubber ball.
MISSING A PAYCHECK DOESN’T SCARE YOU
Running our own business can help you become more comfortable with this, but a financially stable person isn’t afraid when they miss a paycheck. They have funds in place to cover for emergencies and can deal with a temporary situations like this.
I know that this is a lot of reading, but hopefully the advice helped you as it did me. Financial literacy allows us to take a look at ourselves and remove our fears. We can improve at any age. Improving our financial profile also helps to eliminate stress.
Now that we have a guide, we can more intelligently plan. To accomplish these goals is work; lots of work. Not being ashamed to admit your shortcomings is the first step to recovery. Getting started is an acknowledgement that you are committed to being financially better this year than you were in years past.
Photo Credit and Source: www.frugalrules.com

PostHeaderIcon THE BALL IS IN YOUR COURT

By Vernalee
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If the ball is in your court, it is up to you to make the next decision or step. You can pass the ball, throw it, kick it, bounce it, run with it, strike out, or hit a home run. You can even leave the ball on the court. It’s your call; your choice. The consequences also belong to you. There is no dribbling around it! You have the option to be the coach, player, or referee. You are in control until you relinquish the ball.
Where am I going with all of this? Basically, it’s up to you to determine your outcomes. I will never forget my son’s response to me regarding a Super Bowl trivia question, namely, “Mommy, no one remembers the losers!” True that! Therefore, we should play to win!
In other words, work from your court, a place that drives you; motivates you; and mobilizes you to success. Utilize and maximize your home court advantage! Those who sit at court side may or may not cheer you on! Does it matter? Understand this. You matter! You are in the game; they are sitting. Don’t let your guards down. Make the winning shot. Know your target. Angle the ball with great precision. Swish! Shoot; Nothing but nets! Victory is great; it’s therapeutic. Stay in the game. You can’t win if you don’t play. I stick by my motto, “If it is to be it’s left up to me!”
Photo credit: www.josephbonfacio.com

PostHeaderIcon SMALL BUSINESS MATTERS – 10 LESSONS FROM APPLE

By Vernalee
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We small business owners are always looking for ideas and ways to take our business to the next level. With often times limited budgets, it doesn’t mean that we cannot become masters of the game. Imitating and following strategies that work is a start. Learning from the masters can be a masterfully orchestrated plan. Besides, it is proven. Take what you can use, leave the remainder on the table, and run with it! For sure, we know this. Everything starts with a sale. Without the revenue from sales, we cannot sustain our business. Ideas and templates from other companies who have removed the clinks can become models for us. Duplicating success is never a bad idea.
Entrepreneur Magazine featured a recent article on Apple that I share with you. It was very noteworthy and inspiring. Some of the strategies may work for you.
“Steve Jobs didn’t have a master’s degree, and he certainly wasn’t an engineer, but he excelled at marketing. Those marketing skills propelled Apple into the top spot and turned the company around from near bankruptcy.
Apple’s marketing has become a benchmark for other companies that want to reach similar heights of recognition and revenue. Here are 10 big lessons:
1. Keep it simple.
Customers and prospects don’t need complex marketing campaigns that overwhelm them with information. Apple understood this concept early on and made sure that their marketing was as simple as possible. They took out product feature lists, price, voice-overs and special effects.
In Apple marketing, there isn’t typically any information on where and how to buy their products. Instead, the ads and other marketing messages are very straightforward — typically showing the product and letting it speak for itself. Leave out the flashy noise, strip down the content to the bare minimum, and display simple graphics that translate your message.
There is no need for jargon or technical terms that take away from what you are really offering your audience.
2. Use product placement.
Apple has the budget to get its devices on television shows and movies, but it’s fine to start smaller too. Any marketer can place a product with an influencer who can then share it on their social media sites like Instagram or Snapchat. Once an influencer shares your product and shows their followers how beneficial it is, the seed is planted and leads are made.
3. Leverage reviews.
Apple has done well getting reviews from its customers — and you can too. A free trial or sample can be offered in exchange for a testimonial or a review that appears on social media or a review website. Many times, customers are happy to give a review if you just ask them. A coupon or some other exclusive deal is icing on the cake.
Make sure each testimonial has the person’s name and image or avatar. If it’s a B2B relationship, be sure to add a link back to their website for further credibility.
4. Focus on unique value proposition rather than price.
A big part of Apple’s marketing strategy is that they never get involved in price wars. They stick to their pricing albeit it is often much higher than any of the competition. They can do this because they focus on touting their unique value proposition that no other competitor has been able to emulate — beautiful products that work straight from the box.
Apple also focuses on providing a great user experience with cool features and extensive applications that put it in a product class by itself. Whatever device Apple is offering, they make sure the customer feels like it’s worth paying the higher price. This method of thought can be used to market any product or service environment. Just focus on what sets you apart from the rest of the market.
5. Stand for something.
Customers want to know that you represent something — core values that they can see in action in order to feel comfortable buying and using your products. This stand goes beyond just the product. It must be apparent in everything else connected to it — the packaging, retail appearance and marketing collateral. The messages must repeat those values throughout all platforms.
Messaging consistency reinforces the beliefs of your audience; that your brand can always be counted on to deliver what they stand for. You need to look at everything related to your marketing efforts and make sure there is a unified look and feel.
6. Create experiences, not just products.
Anyone can make a product, but not many can create an experience for the customer that is memorable and entices them to come back again and again. From product launches that feel like going to a rock concert, to movie-style ads, to stores and online shops that revolutionize the shopping experience — Apple invented the idea of customer experiences.
Part of creating an experience that customers will remember is to use the art of storytelling to generate the experience and add sensory dimensions to the overall delivery. This immerses the customer in what they are doing, making it feel less like just shopping for a product. Instead, Apple has made looking for and buying computers, tablets and other devices exciting.
7. Speak to audience using their language.
Because Apple has studied their customers intently, they know how to speak to them in their own language, which creates a deeper bond and encourages more sales.
By avoiding terms and explanations that only serve to confuse and overwhelm, Apple has found a way to reach customers on a new level that the competition still has not figured out. Focus on studying your customer, how they interact and talk on social media, and speak to those aspects of your product or service that they are most interested in, and use the words they would use.
8. Develop an aura and mystery around what you are doing.
The best marketing approach Apple has used is to create mystery about what they are doing next with product launches and announcements that keep what they are up to under wraps until the big unveiling.
This turns customers into rabid fans and gets them pumped up in a way that has them buying whatever it is rather than stopping to think if they even need what Apple is introducing. However, Apple has gone even farther by leaking certain information and starting rumors to further stir the mystique around a product introduction, They really know how to stir up the audience.
Usually, marketers tell their customers everything about a product, but Apple creates more excitement by withholding information and making everyone speculate.
9. Appeal to emotions.
Apple has created evangelists out of their customers primarily because they have been able to reach and hold on to them at an emotional level. Apple’s ads show happy people having a great time with their iPads and iPods rather than focusing on memory size or battery life.
The more their visual content appeals to emotions like happiness, enjoyment and inclusion, the more likely that content will be shared with others and generate the viral movement that Apple has leveraged. This can be emulated by any business niche or company through strong visuals, emotionally charged language and a positive tone as the basis for all content.
10. Use visuals.
We live in a world of content where people are bombarded with words all the time. That’s why videos have become so popular. There’s far fewer words and more images that can make a greater impact upon the customer experience.
Apple even had ads with only 10 words because they understand that the words, especially the excess of words, is not what resonates with customers and prospects. When creating marketing campaigns, fewer words mean more to the audience, especially when they are given images that resonate on a deeper emotional level.
Apple has a marketing strategy that continues to drive growing sales throughout the globe. Any company can do the same if they apply these lessons within their marketing strategy, and continue to use these tactics for both new and existing products and services.”
Now you have it. Why reinvent the wheel? Follow the masters. Put an Apple in your plan.
Photo credit: www.apple.com; Source: www.entrepreneur.com/Chirag Kulkarni

PostHeaderIcon LIES – HOW OFTEN DO WE TELL THEM?

By Vernalee
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Though your nose may not grow like the fictitious Pinocchio if you tell a lie, it is a statistical fact that we all lie – from time to time. Shut your mouth! Stop lying by saying that you don’t. Some of us are better liars than others; some can even lie convincingly without blinking an eye. It may be a little lie, a big lie, or a “shading” of the truth lie by withholding critical information. Yet, for certain, regardless of the size or content of the story – a lie is a lie!
Yes, that’s right, we are all big, fat liars.
According to current research, “by age four, 90% of children have grasped the concept of lying, and it just gets worse from there. Just how bad is it? Let’s see.
1. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Massachusetts, 60% of adults can’t have a ten minute conversation without lying at least once. But even that number makes it sound better than it really is; those people in the study who did lie actually told an average of 3 lies during their brief chat. And I know you’re sitting there right now insisting you would be part of the 40% that didn’t lie. That’s what the liars in the study thought, too. When they watched the taped conversations back, they were shocked at how many fibs they had told. The average number of lies told per day was 1.65. That number is surprisingly low. Many participants were lying about the extent of their lying!
2. We lie to everyone. Our parents get the worst of it, according to “The Day America Told the Truth,” with 86% of us lying to them regularly, followed by friends (75%), siblings (73%), and spouses (69%). But in general we lie about things that aren’t important, little things that we think will make us look better or more like-able.
3. Sometimes we do lie about things that matter. According to one estimate, 40% of people lie on their resumes. According to a study by Scientific American, a whopping 90% of people looking for a date online lie in their profile. The biggest fib told by women is an obvious one; on average ladies claim to weigh eight and a half pounds less than they actually do. Men, on the other hand, try to use their profile to convince potential partners that they are taller, richer, and/or better educated than they actually are. But before you vow never to trust anyone again, here’s some food for thought: A study by the University of Toronto found that it is actually the most trusting people who are best able to tell when they are being lied to.”
“This leads me to one final thought. Men, if ever asked the following question by your significant other (female): “Do these jeans make me look fat?” If the veridical answer is “yes,” you may wish to exercise your daily quota of lying in offering a response.”
Lie detector tests are definitely out of the question. No telling how we would fare there! I remain in awe of those who lie and think that you think that they told the truth. Let’s not forget that the so called “private” conservative people who are reluctant to tell you stuff are not reserved when it comes to lying. They are often times the bigger offenders since their lives are built around not telling their business. Keeping secrets and keeping you out of their business remain their number one goal. Lies aid in that process.
Did I hear someone reciting the childhood poem, “Liar, liar, pants on fire?” The fireman’s truth is to hose you down with water to extinguish the flames! Unbelievable, once you dry out, you start lying again!
All of this tells us one thing: The truth is a luxury; it is worth its weight in gold since we hear so little of it!
Photo credit: www.cartoonbros.com; Source: www.mentalfloss.com; www.psychologytoday.com

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