How to Keep Your Holiday Spending in Check #MoneyMonday

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How Much Will You Spend This Year?

Merry Christmas can turn in to Bah Humbug very quickly if you go overboard with your holiday gift giving.

Here are tips to help you keep your spending budget in check during this holiday shopping season.

Can you think of a gift you’ve received that meant the world to you, but cost very little?

Leave your comment below and give us some gift ideas!

Obamacare Lesson #1: Done > Perfect

You know that idea in your head?  The one that you’ve had for a few years now?  Yes, the one you tinker with every now and then on nights and weekends until other things in your life push it to the backburner.  Yeah, that one.  It’s brilliant. There’s only one problem, no one knows about it because you’re afraid to put it out there.  Let’s chat, I think I know why.

Healthcare.gov website down

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Let’s take the rollout of the Obamacare website for example. I know this is a high profile example, but stick with me for a moment. Whether you agree with the law or not (this is not a political blog), let’s just except the premise that the President and everyone else that voted for the Affordable Care Act are looking to do something significant with health care in the United States.

In fact the ACA is the most significant overhaul of health care in this country since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965! I’d call that a huge undertaking.

Whenever you are trying to make a big dream come true there are bound to be bumps in the road. The Obamacare website rollout is a great example of this. The site has been plagued in the early going by connectivity and other technical issues. So much so that the website itself has prompted a few days of Congressional hearings on the subject!

However, if I was in the position of the POTUS or Kathleen Sebelius I would simply have offered one principle that would be politically unpopular (and that the media would have a field day with), but one that every serious entrepreneur or business person knows is absolutely vital to the successful deployment of their big ideas:

Done > Perfect

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That’s right, your idea is far more valuable if you simply get a MVP out the door (tech speak for minimally viable product) so that you have a starting point to work from. You could always put off, delay, tweak, research, revise, alter, change or any number of things that only serve to validate your fear of making a mistake or things not working or looking exactly right the first time.

I’m always astonished by the number of people that haven’t started their business yet because they haven’t found the “perfect” name for their product or a great logo. Seriously?

People like this think that Apple magically dreamed up the iPhone and iPad and went on to sell millions of units and make billions of dollars.  However, these people either have short memories or aren’t students of business.  They fail to remember the Apple Newton that was a colossal failure in the marketplace and what was supposed to be its killer feature, handwriting recognition, became the butt of jokes in newspapers around the country.

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But let me ask you something, who do you think had the last laugh?

I know that it’s extremely uncomfortable for you to put yourself in the position of being publicly sconred like Katherine Sebelius just for trying to bring something of value to the world. It hurts even worse when the resistance to your ideas is coming from people whose opinion you care about.

But I’ve got two little words that will help you blow the lid off of any negative feedback you’re getting about putting your idea out there:

“Beta Test”

My first job after completing my Industrial Engineering degree at the University of Pittsburgh was as a technology consultant at Deloitte Consulting, one of the largest professional services firms in the world. I participated on a number of information technology projects for large organizations, and it was there that I learned the value of the beta test.

A beta test occurs when you’ve tested your product internally and you release it to a (usually limited) number of end users so that the product can function in the real world and you can continue to make improvements. Do you use Gmail? Google released its popular email product in 2004 and it remained in “beta test” phase for 5 whole years, even though it racked up more than 100 million accounts during that time.

Google is the second most valuable technology company on the planet, right behind the aforementioned Apple.  I think it would be ok to learn from them.

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So, if you take the idea that you’ve been trying to get out of your head, get it to a point where it’s functional and release a “beta version” to the world, you not only put yourself in a position to help people and begin to reap the benefits of your hard work, you also put the smack-down on any resistance because the “beta” label acknowledges that, while the product should work as intended, you are still working to improve your product.

The Administration would have done itself a favor if it had released the product in “beta” and/or conducted a phased rollout, as I would have advised them if they were my client.  But who knows, perhaps $174 million doesn’t get you as much quality consulting as it used to (I really should have upped my rates).

I mean, health care hasn’t changed for the better in 50 years.  You don’t think people can wait two months for kinks to be worked out in the system?

Do Yourself a Favor

Do yourself a favor and stop waiting for the perfect time, logo, name, website, wordpress theme, customer, partner, mascot or whatever else has been holding you back.  Those things will come in time. Get over your fear of not having a blockbuster right out of the gate.  Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn famously said, “If you’re not somewhat embarrassed by your 1.0 product launch, then you’ve released too late.” There’s value in launching early, getting engaged with customers, and learning from them. That can direct your progress.

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Oh, and please don’t try to weasel out of this method by saying that you’re not working on a software or internet product.  It doesn’t matter if you are becoming a plumber or you are designing t-shirts.  Put something out there slap “beta” or “version 1.0″ on it and keep moving.  Said another way:

“You don’t have to be GREAT to get STARTED, but you do have to START in order to be GREAT” – Les Brown

So it’s time for you to get started.  I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve.


 

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How to Overcome the Top 5 Financial Fears #MoneyMonday

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What Are You Afraid Of?

Freddy Kreuger. Public speaking. There are a lot of things we can be afraid of, but money isn’t one of them.

Are you currently dealing with any of these fears?

1. Losing your job
2. Running out of money
3. Something happening to you
4. Caring for your parents
5. Failure

Watch this week’s episode of #MoneyMonday to find out how to face and ultimately overcome these fears.

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Obamacare Explained in 6 Minutes #MoneyMonday

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Are You Ready For Health Care Reform?

Whether you like it or not, the Affordable Care Act is here, for the time being.

Check out this episode of #MoneyMonday and you’ll come away with the things you need to know about “Obamacare” and how it might affect you…all in six minutes.

How to Get Paid What You’re Worth #MoneyMonday

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Are You Ready To Finally Get Paid What You’re Worth?

It sure would be nice if there was a “fairy job mother” who would come down and leave significant salary increases for us each year. Sadly, no such thing exists.

If you want to make more money at your job (don’t all employees?) then you are going to need a plan.

Check out this episode of #MoneyMonday and you’ll come away with the process and tools necessary to significantly increase your salary at your next review.

MoneyMonday – Financial Advice for Newlyweds

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‘Til Debt Do Us Part?

Sure, your vows said “For Richer or Poorer”, but I’d rather you avoid the poorer part if possible.

Check out this week’s #MoneyMonday for tips on financial things you can do both before and after your big day to give yourself a better chance at marital bliss.

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What If The Thing Holding You Back Is…You?

Have you ever tried to launch a new project, get a new job or make some other significant change in your life, but felt that there were certain forces conspiring against you to make sure that it didn’t happen?  Maybe it was your haters.  Maybe it was your parents. Maybe it was your boss.

Well, if you’ve ever had that feeling I believe I just discovered one more person that you need to add to that list. And, I’m certain you never thought that this person would ever do anything to stand in your way. In the immortal words of Kevin Hart, let me explain.

 bba915e9737a83f0ddff58e64b1fab4b-1Photo courtesy nyelyntho.com

There’s something about stepping out of your comfort zone that can be extremely helpful in bringing clarity into your life. There may be no bigger way to step out of your comfort zone than spending time in a foreign country. Think about it: the language may be different, the food may be different, and the people there may drive on the opposite side of the street.  Try as you might, you can’t force the county to fit into your own little routine that you’ve been accustomed to living in, you’ll be forced to adapt to it.

When I accepted the opportunity to teach a business course at the campus of my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, in Qatar, I had some idea of what to expect.  Still, I had some apprehension about things that I felt might provide me with some discomfort.  What was I going to eat? Will the Internet be reliable enough? What happens when Ramadan starts?

The funny thing about doing something you’ve never done or going somewhere you’ve never been before is that you never actually know the things that you should truly be concerned about because, well, you’ve never done or been there before. To get the most out of a new experience you have to embrace the challenge and not be paralyzed by what you don’t know.

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MoneyMonday – Reading is FUND-amental

Sure, you want to get a great tan this summer, but I’m sure you’d like your bank account to look better too!

Here are my suggested items you should read if you’re interested in spending your summer getting Healthy, Wealthy & Wise.

 

 Eat This, Not That – David Zinczenko, Matt Goulding

Your health might not be the first thing you think about when you decide to improve your finances, but trust me,you should.  60% of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. can be attributed to health problems i.e. huge medical bills or job loss due to illness.

The journey towards a healthier lifestyle starts in the kitchen.  Eat This, Not That, will help you swap unhealthy foods for more nourishing ones that will still satisfy your cravings.

You can’t cut everything out of your diet, but you can make better choices.

 

Lean In – Sheryl Sanderg

Sure, there’s been a lot of talk about important a book this might be for women who are trying to find their way to the top of their industry.  However, I believe that many of the principles in the book apply to men as well.

Much of the book Lean In is about channeling your ambition and leveraging your network and other tools to get to the place that you want to be in life.  That certainly isn’t gender specific advice.

Plus, since it’s been confirmed that women are now the primary breadwinner in 40% of American households, men would do well to read this book in order to be good, supportive partner to their wives.  This book helps put women’s unique challenges into focus, and offers ample advice on how to forge past them.

 

The 5 Love Languages – Gary D. Chapman

We’ve already talked about the #1 cause of bankruptcy…health issues. Do you know what #4 is?  Divorce.

Yes, 50% of marriages end in divorce, and there is an ample amount of attorneys waiting to siphon off your marital assets while you two argue over who gets to keep fluffy. Divorce can wreak havoc on a financial plan.

Enter The 5 Love LanguagesIf you’ve been having trouble communicating with your mate, this book might be a godsend. Not everyone expresses their affection in the same way, and this book will help you translate the love language your mate speaks.

Because it’s much better to get on the same page voluntarily, than be forced to get on the same page…as in your signatures on the divorce papers.

 

 

MoneyMonday – How To Freshen Up Your Finances

Now that the weather is getting warmer, you probably ready to spend time cleaning out the garage, painting and other typical spring cleaning activities.

But, don’t forget that you also have a financial house that deserves to be in order as well.

Here are a bunch of tips to help you spring clean your finances and feel more in control of your financial life.

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