Staying Positive When Surrounded By Negativity

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We are definitely in an interesting time and place right now. It seems that no matter where you turn, there is an abundance of negativity. Everyone seems to be mad at each other. Whether it be politics, the media, or even things going on in our personal lives, it can be really hard to stay positive.

We could all hang our heads and complain about how much the world sucks right now. That’s easy to do and it’s OK to get mad when you hear something outrageous on the news or hear someone say something that is completely ignorant or hateful. But what are you going to DO about it? We need to learn how to redirect negative energy into positive action.

I have taken many trips on the negativity train and know how draining it can be. But when I started to realize that I had a choice and could choose happiness, my view on the world started to change. Is it easy to stay positive? Hellllll no. It’s something that I have to work at everyday. I have to remind myself that negative thoughts are going to hurt more than help.

So what do we do? Below are just a few of my ideas on using our energy for good and staying positive. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts in the comments.

  • Get involved with causes that you care about. Work to understand everything about these causes and find organizations that you can rally behind. Educate yourself and then advocate. Volunteer and/or donate. Do whatever you can to help out. This is a critical time that charities and organizations need our help.
  • Stay positive on Social Media. Follow positive pages. Post positive, happy stories. Unfollow people that are constantly posting angry or hateful comments. You have to be protective of the information that you are letting in and putting out.
  • Seek to understand people’s opinions. If you ask someone why they think the way they do as opposed to calling them an idiot because they think the way they do, you will have a much more constructive conversation. With that being said, some people are always going to a-holes and full of hate. But we can accept that we can’t change everyone and just move on. 
  • Don’t underestimate your power. Movements start because one person decided to stand up for their beliefs. You don’t have to change the world over night, but if you help to change one person, you have made a difference.
  • Keep working towards your dreams. We all have something to offer the world. Don’t give up. It is up to us to share our unique skills and talents with the world. Other people will be influenced by your courage and ambition to push forward.

Book Review: Overcoming Underearning by Barbara Stanny

I read Overcoming Underearning a couple years ago, but it stills sticks out in my head. This book can fall into both the self-improvement and personal finance categories. It is meant to change your relationship with money and to build confidence in your ability to live the life you deserve.

Barbara Stanny has made a career out of educating women on personal finance and encouraging them to live up to their full worth. She has written several books, conducts seminars, and provides coaching. She writes and teaches from experience, as she took herself from having a bad relationship with money to being a successful, well-known woman.

This book will require you to put in work to get the full benefit out of reading it. Barbara takes you through a 5-step process and you will have a lot of questions to answer along the way. The exercises are meant to make you see where the blockages are that are causing you to be an under-earner. I even got emotional in some parts, because I realized how many negative beliefs I have been holding onto around money my entire life.

This is a good book to read no matter what income bracket you fall into. She also mentions that even if you are making six figures, if you are careless with your money, it can be just as damaging as being an under-earner.

 

How Can I Make Extra Money On The Side?

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Something I find myself frequently searching for online is ways to make extra money. I find it to be important to have multiple streams of income. I’ve also come to terms with the fact that I’m a multi-passionate person and I need to have variety in my projects and activities in both my work and personal life to keep from getting bored.  Whether you need the extra money or are just looking to add some new skills to your resume, there are a variety of ways to make extra money. Below are some things I have personally done in the past to generate extra income. Some of these are things that may only make you a few bucks here and there and some are things that you could grow into a profitable part-time or even full-time gig.

1. Sell Your Stuff

I sell on eBay. I used eBay for many years as a way to get rid of things that I no longer needed or wanted. But recently, I have played around with making an income off things that sell. I sell things that I find at thrift stores and a little bit of craft items. That are a variety of places to sell your stuff – Craigslist, Amazon, garage sales, etc.

2. Provide A Service

I’ve done a handful of gigs dog sitting and baby sitting in the past. Dog walking is another option. Do you consider yourself a handyman? Do you like to clean? There are a variety of services you could offer that people are willing to pay for.

3. Make Money From Your Hobbies

This can also fit in with the above. Whether it’s creating handmade items, writing, fixing things, chances are there is someone willing to pay you for it. You could also teach classes on things that you are good at.

4. Get a Part-Time Job

This might seem obvious, but still makes the list. I currently work one day a week as a bartender. There are a variety of places looking for part-time employees. You may have to do some hunting to find one that will work with your schedule, but working a few extra hours a week can help bridge the gap if you need extra money.

5. Survey Sites, Rewards Sites, Focus-Groups

I saved these for last because, well, they really won’t make you a ton of money or help you develop any sort of skill. But, I really like taking surveys and giving my opinion. It’s a relatively easy activity you can do while watching TV. A couple of sites I have used are mysurvey.com and surveysavvy.com. I have actually received payouts from both sites, so yes, they are legit. A couple of rewards sites I use are inboxdollars.com and mypoints.com. These sites give you points to partaking in a variety of activities that can later be redeemed for cash. If you live near any market research companies, they will often pay panelists to give their opinion.

I hope these ideas help you to start thinking of ways that you can make extra money on the side.

5 Budgeting Tools to Track Spending

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The word budget is probably one of the most boring words in the English language. Unfortunately, a budget is required to fully master the world of adulting. One way to make budgeting easier is to find a tool that works for you. I have used the 5 tools listed below and each one has served a variety of different needs in my financial growth.

1. Pen and Paper

This is the most basic options. All you need is a pen and some paper. I used to keep a notebook to track my monthly spending. I used this tool when I first starting creating a budget. Because I had to manually write everything down, it caused me to really think about what I was spending and I realized how much money I was throwing away on silly things.

2. Pre-Made Worksheets and Printables

There are a variety of worksheets or workbooks that you can find online or in stores that are created for budgeting. I’ve used the expense tracking notebook by Organizher.

3. Spreadsheets

Creating a spreadsheet to track your spending is similar to using pen and paper, but more advanced. You can add formulas and graphs to automatically track specific categories.

4. The Envelope System

I’ve had jobs as a server and bartender and I find this to be a great way to budget my cash. I label envelopes: debt pay-off, savings, fun money, etc. and then divide my cash at the end of each shift.

5. Online Budgeting Tools

One tool I use online is Mint.com. You can link all of your various financial accounts to one place. This is a great way to automate your budget. You can set up goals, track specific categories, and label your purchases as you see fit. There is a wide variety of similar sites.

What’s your favorite tool for budgeting?

 

 

 

Gratitude: Change Your Perspective

The last week has put me into a funk, with a big ol’ capital F (which also happens to be the letter that another one of my favorite words to describe this week starts with, but I’ll let you figure that out). I’ve been overly tired and stressed out. I am really good at throwing my self a pity party bash when I get into one of these moods.

One thing that I’ve recently been neglecting in my life is the practice of gratitude. In the past I’ve been able to use gratitude as a way to find the energy to keep pushing forward. One of the reasons that I’ve been so tired lately is that I’ve had opportunities to add more fulfillment to my life. I’ve met new people and have added additional income sources. I have to keep in mind that I’m going through growing pains and change is hard, even if it’s good change.

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It is important to practice gratitude every day, even if you feel that you have nothing to be grateful for. Gratitude can actually be the most beneficial when you are at a low point in your life. The reason that is so important is because it can change your perspective on things. When you can see the positives on your life and stop looking at all of the negative things, your mind becomes more open to seeing the opportunities for change.

Gratitude builds confidence. A positive attitude attracts positive people on your life. It brings relief. If you always focus on the negative, it’s easy to feel helpless and unmotivated. Gratitude gives you hope that everything is going to work out.

I have to remind myself to be grateful for the hard times I’ve faced along the way, because facing those challenges is what causes me to come up with big dreams. I also believe that all of the challenges that I have faced in my life are the very things that are going to bring success into my life. I like to think that my purpose in this world is to use the lessons I’ve learned along the way to teach other people. At that’s a pretty big thing to be grateful for.

This doesn’t mean to ignore the funks. Acknowledge when things are bad, but startworking on the things you can change.

 

Take a moment to think about the good things that have happened in your life today, this week, or this year. The truth is, you have a lot of fantastic things happening all around you and you don’t even realize it.

Starting Over By Taking Small Steps

Setting goals is an important part of creating the life we want. Goals can be motivating and inspiring, but they can also be scary and overwhelming.

Making changes to my financial situation has been a top goal of mine for several years. I’ve set goals for myself every year, but have never made much progress. I would have everything written out and would feel excited and would tell myself “this is my year”. But that feeling would quickly turn into frustration and disappointment. I would look at how far I needed to go and feel like there was no way that I could get there. So, I did what most of us do. I gave up.

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I realized I was doing it wrong. This year, as I was setting goals, I knew it was time to face reality and be OK with the process and not stress out so much about the outcome. I know I need to focus on the small changes that I can make day-to-day and month-to-month, rather than the end result. I won’t have all of my debt paid off by next month, but I can set aside a small amount each month to work towards this goal.

As I’ve started making small changes, I’ve changed my perspective on the whole process. I get excited to track my monthly progress. I can see that I’m making changes and it makes me feel in control again.

Making important changes in your life comes down to building the right habits and having confidence that you can achieve your dreams. If you try to change everything at once, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. As you start to get comfortable with the small changes, you’ll be able to gradually add on as you move forward and eventually you’ll become the badass that you know you are.

What changes are you trying to make in your life? Comment below.

10 Things I’ve Learned In 35 Years

At the beginning of August, I turned 35. It’s a weird number for me. I’ve always liked my birthday and never really had a hard time admitting how old I am. But 35 doesn’t roll off the tongue as easy as prior numbers. I guess part of it is feeling like my life should be different then it is. I’m officially in my mid-thirties, shouldn’t I have this or be that? Or maybe this is exactly how it’s supposed to be. My life is not perfect, but I get it. I can start to see the purpose and the meaning behind all of the struggles and frustrations.

I started this post a few weeks ago. I think birthdays are great opportunities for reflection. I have been on this earth for 35 years. What lessons have I learned along the way? Below is a list of 10 things that I have learned and feel are important to keep in mind in everyday life. I have a lot for work to do to implement all of these ideas into my life on regular basis, but I honestly think these all play a major  part in overall happiness.

Check out this picture of me as a tiny, little baby and then read on for the list.

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  1. Your life does not have to look like everyone else’s. In fact, the more you embrace your uniqueness, the more amazing your life will be. Comparing yourself to others will only add negativity to your life. We are all on our own path. No one’s path is better or worse than anyone else’s. Accept that you are exactly where you need to be and be content with the process.
  2. Get out of your comfort zone often. This is where growth happens. Comfort is safe, but it’s also really boring.
  3. Never be afraid to let go of anything toxic in your life. Beliefs, people, habits… if you realize something is holding you back, or bringing you down, let it go.
  4. Its OK to start over. Life isn’t going the way you want it to? Hit that reset button, baby!
  5. Take care of your finances. They say money can’t buy happiness, but being broke won’t make you happy, either. Learn how to budget. Stay out of debt and save. If you make smart decisions with your money early, your life will be a lot easier later on.
  6. Add adventure as much as possible. We get so busy with the day-to-day to-dos that we forget to have fun.
  7. Don’t hide your strengths from the world and don’t be ashamed of your weaknesses. You’re not doing the world any favors by hiding your strengths. In the words of Marie Forleo, “The world needs that special gift that only you have”. When it comes to your weaknesses, are these things you want to improve on? If so, there is an abundance of resources to learn how to improve in any area. If it’s not something that is important to you, then move on.
  8. Fear is an emotion that will trick you. Fear is part of biology. It keeps us from dangerous situations. But it can also keep us from taking good risks. Don’t let fear stop you from going after your dreams.
  9. Live in the moment. We are always connected to our devices these days. We stress about the past and we stress about the future. It is really easy to “be” anywhere but here. Put in the effort to really be with the people you are surrounded by and learn to be comfortable being alone without distractions.
  10. My best days are yet to come. As I get older, I learn more about myself and what I’m capable of. Keep growing and keep living.

A Digital Life Overhaul: How To De-clutter Your Computer World

I have allowed myself to fall back into a mundane routine. I get up. I go to work. I come home and “work” on a few things. I go to bed. I have lists and goals that I want to work on, but have barely touched. I get overwhelmed by all of the things I want to work on, then freeze, and don’t work on anything. If my goals and “want to do” lists are creating anxiety, then it’s time to step back and revamp some things.

I decided to take last weekend to clean out the clutter that gets in the way of me taking action on my goals. I have been pretty good at keeping the physical clutter in my life in check, so I decided it was time to clean up my digital life. This is where I spend most of time working on the things I want to accomplish. But it’s a mess. And just like if I were trying to work in a messy physical space, trying to work in a messy digital space is distracting. I had articles and notes saved in random places for reference. I had several emails saved because I want to go back and read them. My electronic to-do lists had not been reviewed in weeks.

It was time to step back and reorganize. Below is the process I took to tackle this madness:

  1. Desktop: I first deleted any files that are not used or needed. I then filed away anything that is important or I wanted to keep. The goal was to have nothing on my desktop besides a few shortcuts that I use frequently.
  2. Email: I did not touch my email for a couple of days, unless it was something that was important that needed to be dealt with immediately. I did this because I wanted to see exactly how much junk I was dealing with everyday. I got to a point where I spent more time deleting emails I didn’t care about then actually reading the ones that I do. I unsubscribed from anything that does not serve me. I also had a lot of newsletters saved that I wanted to read. I deleted any that did not interest me and only saved the ones that I feel will interest me or add value in some way.
  3. Google Drive (or any other tool you use to save important documents): I save any important documents and information that I need for future reference here. Some of the things I save here are financial documents and spreadsheets, career related documents (resume, list of references, etc), and things that I have written. I created folders to organize the documents I have saved here: career, financial, writing, and side income. Any documents I need to keep and spreadsheets that pertain to each category go here.
  4. Evernote (or any other tool you use for saving lists and information for reference): If you are not using Evernote, it is definitely worth checking out. It is free, with the option to upgrade to a premium account. I use Evernote for several things: lists, brainstorming and note keeping, and saving articles for future reference. I deleted anything that is outdated or no longer applies to my life or goals. I also keep yearly, monthly, and weekly to-do lists here, which needed to be updated.
  5. Pictures: I deleted pictures that I don’t want to save. I then uploaded the ones that I want to keep to a online backup service. I use Shutterfly because I can print directly from their website, but there are several places you can save your pictures online.

The above list includes the areas where I needed the most clean-up. Now is a good time to create a system to handle any incoming information. What should be saved and where, and what can be removed/ deleted as it’s dealt with?

The Art of Change

“But if I were to simply remain within my comfort zone, clinging to the way I want to feel – unchallenged – my comfort zone would just keep getting smaller” – Catherine Ryan Hyde, The Long, Steep Path: Everyday Inspiration from the Author of Pay It Forward

I have had a crazy year of ups and downs. As I’ve mentioned before, I was laid-off from my job about a year ago. I took some much needed time to myself to revamp my mental state and figure out the next path to go down. Eventually, I started picking up temp jobs to bring in some cash. I guess it’s true what they say – bills do not pay themselves.

I worked for the same company for 4 years and I was comfortable – too comfortable. I definitely wasn’t happy with what I was doing, but it was easy. I knew my routine, I knew my co-workers, and I knew what was expected of me every day. I guess looking back, my hesitation in looking for new job came from the fear of the unknown.

A few weeks ago, I was hired permanently by the company I was temping with since the beginning of the year (woohoo!). With the hire also came a move up in roles (double woohoo!). Getting hired came with several emotions. Excitement, relief, pride. The emotion I have struggled with the most is the insecurity that comes with learning something new.

That brings me to the topic of the blog post: change. Man, is it hard. I have a tendency to hide in my comfort zone and I do not push myself out of it enough. Guess what? That is no way to LIVE your life. Change is hard – sometimes, really f-ing hard. But, it is a necessary part of life. It is necessary to grow and development into the amazing, stellar humans that we are meant to be.

So, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and start making the changes you’ve been afraid of, because the world is waiting for you to shine.

Keep reading for some ideas to make whatever transition you’re going through a bit smoother:

  1. Accept the emotions you are feeling. Stop trying to fight them. What you are feeling is natural. Our brains like routine. They will do everything they can to get you to go back to your old ways.
  2. Don’t try to do it alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Let the people you are close to know what you are going through. Find people that are going through similar changes and be each others support group.
  3. Take care of your body. Change can be a mental drain. Keep your brain in tip-top shape by eating well, drink plenty of water, and don’t forget to exercise. My favorite form of stress relief? Walk. It. Out
  4. Relax and get plenty of sleep. Give yourself permission to unwind.
  5. Be proactive. Change up your basic routines from time to time to make big changes easier. Take a different route to or from work. Try new places and new experiences when the opportunities present themselves. Change up your order at your favorite restaurant or coffee shop.

Happy Mother’s Day

To all of the moms, grandmothers, step-moms, aunts, sisters, and anyone else that has played the role of “mom”: I hope you enjoy today. We are grateful for all that you do, today and every day.