Why Should I Make a Budget?

You say you know where your money goes and you don’t need it all written down to keep up with it? I issue you this challenge. Keep track of every penny you spend for one month and I do mean every penny.

You will be shocked at what the itty-bitty expenses add up to. Take the total you spent on just one unnecessary item for the month, multiply it by 12 for months in a year and multiply the result by 5 to represent 5 years.

That is how much you could have saved AND drawn interest on in just five years. That, my friend, is the very reason all of us need a budget.

If we can get control of the small expenses that really don’t matter to the overall scheme of our lives, we can enjoy financial success.

The little things really do count. Cutting what you spend on lunch from five dollars a day to three dollars a day on every work day in a five day work week saves $10 a week… $40 a month… $480 a year… $2400 in five years….plus interest.

See what I mean… it really IS the little things and you still eat lunch everyday AND that was only one place to save money in your daily living without doing without one thing you really need. There are a lot of places to cut expenses if you look for them.

Set some specific long term and short term goals. There are no wrong answers here. If it’s important to you, then it’s important period.

If you want to be able to make a down payment on a house, start a college fund for your kids, buy a sports car, take a vacation to Aruba… anything… then that is your goal and your reason to get a handle on your financial situation now.

 

The Budget – The Ultimate Financial Management Tool

A carpenter uses a set of house plans to build a house. If he didn’t the bathroom might get overlooked altogether.

Rocket Scientists would never begin construction on a new booster rocket without a detailed set of design specifications. Yet most of us go blindly out into the world without an inkling of an idea about finances and without any plan at all.

Not very smart of us, is it?

A money plan is called a budget and it is crucial to get us to our desired financial goals.

Without a plan we will drift without direction and end up marooned on a distant financial reef.

If you have a spouse or a significant other, you should make this budget together. Sit down and figure out what your joint financial goals are…long term and short term.

Then plan your route to get to those goals. Every journey begins with one step and the first step to attaining your goals is to make a realistic budget that both of you can live with.

A budget should never be a financial starvation diet. That won’t work for the long haul. Make reasonable allocations for food, clothing, shelter, utilities and insurance and set aside a reasonable amount for entertainment and the occasional luxury item. Savings should always come first before any spending.

Even a small amount saved will help you reach your long term and short term financial goals. You can find many budget forms on the internet. Just use any search engine you choose and type in “free budget forms”.

You’ll get lots of hits. Print one out and work on it with your spouse or significant other. Both of you will need to be happy with the final result and feel like it’s something you can stick to.

Spend Wisely to Save Money

Have you ever noticed that the things you buy every week at the grocery and hardware stores go up a few cents between shopping trips? Not by much…just by a little each week but they continue to creep up and up.

All it takes for the price to jump up by a lot is a little hiccup in the world wide market, note the price of gasoline as it relates to world affairs.

There is a way that we can keep these price increases from impacting our personal finances so much and that is by buying in quantity and finding the best possible prices for the things we use and will continue to use everyday… things that will keep just as well on the shelves in our homes as it does on the shelves at the grocery store or hardware store.

For instance, dog food and cat food costs about 10% less when bought by the case than it does when bought at the single can price and if you wait for close out prices you save a lot more than that.

Set aside some space in your home and make a list of things that you use regularly which will not spoil. Any grain or grain products will need to be stored in airtight containers that rats can’t get into so keep that in mind.

Then set out to find the best prices you can get on quantity purchases of such things as bathroom items and dry and canned food.

You will be surprised at how much you can save by buying a twenty pound bag of rice as opposed to a one pound bag but don’t forget that it must be kept in a rat proof container.

You can buy some clothing items such as men’s socks and underwear because those styles don’t change, avoid buying children’s and women’s clothing, those styles change and sizes change too drastically.

Try to acquire and keep a two year supply of these items and you can save hundreds of dollars.

Rebates – Reward or Rip Off?

Rebates have become increasingly popular in the last few years on a lot of items and certainly on electronic items and computers. Rebates of $20, $50 or $100 are not uncommon.

I’ve even seen items advertised as “free after rebate”. Do these rebates come under the heading of “too good to be true”? Some of them do and there are “catches” to watch out for but if you are careful, rebates can help you get some really good deals.

The way a rebate works is that you pay the listed price for an item then mail in a form and the bar code to the manufacturer and they send you a refund thus reducing the price of what you paid for the item except with a time delay of several weeks.

 

Rule #1. Rebates from reputable companies are usually just fine.

You can be pretty sure you will get the promised rebate from Best Buy, Amazon or Dell but you should probably not count on getting one from a company you’ve never heard of. If you really want the product and are OK with paying the price listed then buy it but don’t count on actually getting the refund.

 

Rule #2. Check rebate expiration dates.

Many times products will stay on the shelf of a retailer after the date for sending in the rebate offer has expired so check that date carefully.

 

Rule #3. Be sure you have all the forms required to file for the rebate before you leave the store.

Rebates will almost always require a form to be filled out, a receipt for the purchase and a bar code.

Rule #4. Back up your rebate claim.

Make copies of everything you send in to get your rebate including the bar code. Stuff gets lost in the mail all the time and if the rebate is for $50 it’s worth the trouble to back up your claim.

Avoiding Impulse Spending

Answer these questions truthfully:

1.) Does your spouse or partner complain that you spend too much money?

2.) Are you surprised each month when your credit card bill arrives at how much more you charged than you thought you had?

3.) Do you have more shoes and clothes in your closet than you could ever possibly wear?

4.) Do you own every new gadget before it has time to collect dust on a retailer’s shelf?

5.) Do you buy things you didn’t know you wanted until you saw them on display in a store?

If you answered “yes” to any two of the above questions, you are an impulse spender and indulge yourself in retail therapy.

This is not a good thing. It will prevent you from saving for the important things like a house, a new car, a vacation or retirement. You must set some financial goals and resist spending money on items that really don’t matter in the long run.

Impulse spending will not only put a strain on your finances but your relationships, as well. To overcome the problem, the first thing to do is learn to separate your needs from your wants.

Advertisers blitz us hawking their products at us 24/7. The trick is to give yourself a cooling-off period before you buy anything that you have not planned for.

When you go shopping, make a list and take only enough cash to pay for what you have planned to buy. Leave your credit cards at home.

If you see something you think you really need, give yourself two weeks to decide if it is really something you need or something you can easily do without. By following this simple solution, you will mend your financial fences and your relationships.

A Simple Guide To Meditation To Help You Deal With Stress

Meditation is one of the techniques used in stress management. A person who is riddled with problems often finds it hard to focus; which often leads to more problems cropping up due to their mistakes. Meditation techniques helps a person achieve a calm state of mind without having to resort to drugs or relaxation tools and implements. Every step to meditation is done in the mind.

Remember that meditation is not a one shot deal. It is almost impossible to attain a calm state of mind in just a matter of minutes, especially if it’s your first time at it. It is essential that you keep on practicing meditation until you have conditioned your mind to instantaneously achieve the state just by thinking it.

Here are some steps for a beginner to start with meditation as their Stress Management strategy.

Step 1: Find A Quiet Corner To Start Your Meditation

Distraction is a hindrance to those who are still starting out with meditation. When you close your eyes, your sense of hearing will be twice as good so it is quite possible to hear almost anything in your surroundings that will make it hard for you to concentrate.

For beginners, it is important to start out in a quiet place in your home where noise is non-existent. Close your windows and lock your door. If possible, you can tell everyone in your home to minimize their noise so that you won’t get distracted.

Step 2: Ready Your Position

It is advisable for beginners to avoid lying down when practicing meditation. The aim here is not to sleep, and it is a guarantee that you will immediately fall off to sleep if your mind reaches a relaxed state. To stop this from happening, you can start your meditation in a lotus position or you can find a chair you can sit on. Make sure that your back is straight and your hands are relaxed on the armrest or on your lap.

Step 3: Begin Your Meditation With Proper Breathing

A good way to start meditation is to do the proper breathing exercise. You inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. This way, you can come up with a rhythm that you can easily focus on. Also, the amount of oxygen in your body will be enough to keep you relaxed. Keep practicing your breathing until you can do it easily without having to think about it.

Step 4: Focus On Your Mind

While you are busy with your breathing, you will achieve a state wherein your mind will start throwing images at you. These are mostly in random — events of the day, future plans, problems and worries, fears and so on. It will be hard to ignore these thoughts and you are not supposed to ignore them. The gist here is to focus on these thoughts without really paying any attention to it.

This might sound hard but a here is a simple example to understand the concept. You know that you have furniture at home — you can see them clearly with your eyes but you are not really concentrating on it. Focusing on the furniture will usually make you think of its color, its material, how it looks in that part of your home, and more. You need to be able to look at these random thoughts in a detached state — seeing them clearly in your head but not focusing your attention on it.

There will come a time that these random thought will stop and you will notice that you are already in a blank space in your mind. This is the state you want to achieve during meditation. This is the place where you can think about your problems and focus on it till you can find a solution for it. With this, you have successfully mastered the basics of meditation for your stress management program.

Activities You Can Try Out For Stress Management

It is quite possible to easily cope with stress if you find the right activities to help you get your mind off the problem that’s bothering you. Even if having fun does not directly get rid of the source of the problem entirely, diverting your mind from it for a short period of time will calm you down and regain your composure before taking it on again.

You don’t have to go on an extended vacation just to get rid of stress. In fact, you can easily have fun while in the comforts of your own home to get your mind off it. You can indulge in word or board games, sports, music and art, and many others to fill up your time with something you like to do and forget your problems to help you relax.

Let Your Mind Have Some Fun

Since stress is centered on your mind, then it would only be plausible to divert it into something more productive and fun. Try to delve into games that require your mind to think. Chess is a great way to stop thinking about the problem and focus more on how to beat your partner. You can also try playing word or number games that will put your logical mind at work, like scrabble, Sudoku, word puzzles, crosswords, and the like. This will help divert your mind from stress to help you achieve a sense of relaxation.

Sweat Out Your Stress

One stress management technique is to engage in sports. Many would agree that a friendly bout of basketball or tennis with your friend will help you relax. This will help you focus your mind into winning, especially if you turn it into a competition. Consider this as an outlet for your anger or irritation with work and channel it in a positive way instead of venting it out at the office.

Also, stress can also affect your anatomy if left unchecked. Engaging in exercise or sports will help sweat out those toxins that accumulate due to stress that will surely grow on you. Moving around a lot will also help in muscle rejuvenation — which is often cramped and sore every time you are under the throes of stress.

Go To The Gym

If you want to channel all your stress to something productive and release it in one go then you might want to try coping with it at the local gym. Stress affects you physically, mentally, and emotionally; so it would only be best to address these three aspects in one sitting.

Going to the gym to help cope with your stress is a good idea. The instructor will help you divert your mind from your problems to the program he or she has in store for you. You will need to focus all your mind and effort to completing the workout routine. This way, you won’t have time to think about your problems at home or office; just focus on getting your body in shape for a better you.

Another benefit of going to the gym is to strengthen your heart from the effects of stress. Heart attack and stroke are health conditions commonly attributed to stress. By going into a cardiovascular workout, you are strengthening your anatomy for the future — this time, you will be physically equipped to deal with it.

 

Dealing With Stress In Your Everyday Life

What is Stress?

Stress is a response produced by your body when you are subjected to various types of demand, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally. Contrary to what most people believe, stress is not associated with the negative only since excessive positive emotions can result to stress as well. When something that takes place or is about to take place in the environment is producing stress in a person’s body, it results into the release of certain chemicals into your bloodstream.

On the positive side, these chemicals can be utilized to produce more energy or added strength. This is helpful when the cause of your stress is something physical. But when you are dealing with emotional stress, it can cause a negative effect on your body since there is no outlet for releasing that extra boost of energy and strength. Therefore, stress results to various types of emotional or physical responses because each individual’s body respond differently to the stimulus.

Types and Causes of Stress

Whether you admit it or not, stress is a part of everyday life. Whether you are at school, at the office, or just about anywhere you are forced to deal with people and the environment. Hence, the types of stress is closely associated with its cause. And because your physical body is closely connected to your emotional and mental state, you will notice some connection to their effects when you begin to experience stress. This is also the reason why it is important to combat the cause of stress since it affects several vital aspects of your body in order to function.

Here are some of the most common sources of stress that must be dealt with on an everyday basis.

Internal Stress

There are times when you constantly worry about certain events without having enough control to determine its outcome. Internal stress is also one of those kinds of stress that needs to be addressed quickly. Most of the source of stress is rooted in the person’s mind, which makes it difficult to manage and would entail more work to get rid of. Oftentimes, people suffering from internal stress subconsciously puts themselves in stressful situations or feel stressed out about things that aren’t stressful to begin with.

Survival Stress

This type of stress deals with the danger, mostly physical, that an individual is subjected to. It can be prompted by an attack made by either human or animal that could potentially hurt you in the process. Therefore, your body releases this burst of energy that you need to utilize to respond quickly about the situation at hand whether to confront it or escape from it.

Environmental Stress

This type of stress is your body’s way of responding to changes or activities in your environment that could produce stress, such as extreme levels of noise or pressure from work. As compared to the other types of stress already mentioned above, this one is a lot easier to deal with. The best way to get started combating this stress type is to determine the source. Once you have identified the source of environmental stress, find a way to avoid them.

Stress Due To Work and Fatigue

Another common type of stress and probably the most prevalent. This one though does not happen in an instant, but rather builds up over time. When you are spending too much time working or forced to deal with excessive amount of work, then it can take its toll on your body. To deal with work stress, you need to make sure you have enough rest and relaxation in between so your body can recover from the tremendous amount of work. There are relaxation methods that you can apply in order to find relief from stress.

Importance of Stress Management

Impacts of Stress

Stress management is an essential step for you to take once you have determined you are facing stressful situations in your life, regardless of the cause. Although there are helpful types of stress that enables you to cater this added burst of energy into something positive and productive, it is not recommended for your body. Long term stress can specifically produce negative impacts on your health and is recognized to deteriorate your health faster than some other diseases.

Furthermore, stress can reduce your capacity to perform and function well, either at school or in the workplace. Therefore, stress isn’t something to be dismissed. Aside from the personal impacts you can experience from stress, it also affects how you deal with the environment and the people in your lives.

Knowing Your Stress Level

When it comes to stress management, determining the source of stress is often not enough. For people who are often stressed, keeping a stress journal is highly recommended in order for you to monitor the different levels of stress you are experiencing and what effects it produced. This is an effective way for you to closely study your levels of stress, its triggers, and for you to pinpoint exactly what you can do to relieve yourself from it.

Starting on Stress Management

Now that you know the effects that stress can do to you, getting started on a stress management method is necessary. Managing your stress helps you regain control over your life, instead of being consumed by the amount of stress you had to deal with. Here’s how you can get started:

• Determine what causes stress in your life.
• Think of ways that you can reduce that stress.
• Formulate your stress management technique for relieving stress.

Steps on Stress Management

One thing you need to keep in mind is that you cannot expect to totally get rid of stress. It is a process wherein your initial goal would be to reduce the amount of stress in your life until you eventually get rid of it.

The following ideas will help you establish a stress management method that could work for you:

• Improve your time management skills. Most of your stress in life are a result of your inability to squeeze in your plans within the time available to you. So, creating your schedule will enable you to achieve more in less time. When creating your schedule, put the most important items on top of your list.
• Study the way you react with stress. This requires your honesty to determine whether your own coping mechanisms are effective or not. If not, then look for other means.
• Take care of your body. This is often the most neglected aspect of stress management. Get enough rest and eat well. Your health is the most vital factor in stress management.
• Change your mindset. Oftentimes, stress is produced only by your mind. So, if that is the case with you, then adopting a new perspective might reduce your stress levels.

Benefits of Stress Management

If you cannot fully understand the importance of stress management, then try thinking in reverse. Imagine yourself not suffering from the negative impacts of stress. Without the negative results of stress in your life, then a person is able to enjoy a more satisfying and stress-free life.

To sum it up, here are the benefits that can be derived with practicing an efficient stress management method:

1. It improves your overall health status.
2. You are able to assume a more positive attitude and outlook in life.
3. It increases your productivity since you are able to focus clearly on your tasks.
4. You have better control over your emotions and how you respond to it.
5. And more importantly, you reduce or eliminate stress in your life.

Job Stress and Working With Problem People

At the workplace, an employee must not only deal with the workload but also with the environment, particularly the people you work with. Here, several factors come into play and contribute at producing job stress. Problem people on your job may include your co-workers, managers, or your boss. You need to learn how to properly deal with them so you can prevent stress from devastating your working experience.

Manage Stress and Problem People

Problem people are not just confined to the workplace but in other aspects of everyday life that require you to work together. However, it is more pressing to address this issue at work since the company’s productivity is in the line. If you are leading a group of co-employees wherein you need to work at a given task, you have to know what to do in order to manage them properly. Or else, you’d fail to meet the task deadline and end up suffering from high levels of stress. Here are some strategies you can employ:

• Be tough. If you find that some of your co-workers or employees are not pulling their weight, you need to impose authority in order for them to realize the need to provide quality workforce. You can do this by setting standards and work boundaries for employees to live up to.
• Communicate assertively. Openly discuss with the people you are working with about each of your responsibilities to a given project or task. If possible, try to approach the matter objectively and free of any emotional leverage. Emphasize your aim to produce an efficient working relationship that results to higher productivity.

About Unreasonable Demands

Most jobs entail their own set of demands. However, there are certain instances wherein unreasonable demands could arise. You need to learn how to identify one against the other in order to know which ones to attend to first. One way to do that is to analyze your job description and what type of work is expected of you by the company. If any demand outside of your work description arises, you need to know how to turn it down while focusing on your job priorities.

This is not to say that you must refuse to attend to real emergencies in the workplace. However, this must not involve just one person but everyone who is concerned. You need to work together in coming up with an effective solution to any of these problems when they arise so you can reduce the level of stress produced by that given situation.

Producing Better Teamwork

If you’re serious about reducing job stress, then you need to come up with an efficient checklist system for your team design. This will enable you to raise awareness about issues or problem areas experienced by your team when working on a given project or task. One way to produce better teamwork is to encourage a feedback system. With this, you can remained focus on increasing performance and relieving team stress.

When coming up with a team design, you need to consider the following important factors:

• The number of people in your team.
• Do you need to work together? Or, must you perform separate and individual tasks towards a common goal?
• Does it require technical skills?
• Does it require social skills?
• Does your team have all the resources it need?
• What is the time frame for working on the project?
• How effective is your feedback system?

Proper Team Negotiation

Much of the job stress involved with working on a team project is rooted in your inability to resolve conflicts within the group. Therefore, having proper team negotiation skills will help you conquer the stress. Although neither an aggressive nor a passive approach will help your cause, you need to come up with a solution that is agreeable to both parties and one that will benefit the organization.

Different situations require different manners of negotiation. Therefore, you need to use this point to determine exactly what the source of conflict is. Is it lack of resources or lack of proper communication? Then, you can plan a solution accordingly. Once you have worked out possible solutions for the problem, then you will realize how it can significantly reduce the amount of job stress and you’d achieve a more productive working environment.