Business is Personal

In the days of Internet purchasing and virtual business, which both play such a huge role in the way we live our daily lives, visiting a regular brick and mortar storefront starts to leave our brains when it comes to making a purchase. We almost automatically go to Amazon.com to search for our every need. And I understand why, it’s so darn easy! Even though the sheer convenience of shopping online is enough to steer away from shopping locally and experiencing face-to-face interactions, I encourage everyone to go out and make your purchases the old-fashioned way whenever possible. And this is why…

We live in a comparatively small community. Humboldt County, and even more specifically, Eureka, California, rely so heavily on the support of local businesses to keep everyone afloat. We don’t have very many mega-corporations in this area. Arcata has even fewer (if any) than Eureka does. We rely on the locally owned businesses for most commodities. One example of this that hits home for me is the automotive industry. Even the big brand-name shops like Les Schwab and Firestone are locally managed, meaning the guys or gals who run those locationslivehere, right where you live! We also have several mom-and-pop owned shops who strive so hard to create a positive experience for those who we share the community with. Going the extra mile and then some to create the best possible experience for their customers is a giant part of their business, aside from the actual car repair itself. The point of creating a wonderful experience when visiting these small businesses is to make customers want to return to them in the future and to encourage people to share how great their experience was with others. Locally owned businesses understand how important maintaining reputation is because they, too, are part of the community whom they serve. And in a small town, word of mouth is everything.

So many people cultivate personal relationships with these local businesses and the people who run them. As they begin to make regular visits to the stores, everyone begins to learn about each other’s lives. This creates an affinity for that person and the business associated with them. It becomes more of a personal visit rather than purely business-related. This relationship building aspect is so important to our local economy! I fear that sometimes we tend to forget about this aspect of doing business.

I wrote this mainly to remind everyone of how important having face-to-face interaction is in business. Don’t take the easy route and order everything from your couch. Get out there and talk to people! You will be happy to make those connections with those in your community, I promise that you won’t regret it.

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*Pictured above: the crew at Eureka Brake & Automotive, my family’s business in Eureka, CA

Overcoming the Boundaries of Budgeting

“Budget” can be a scary word for a lot of people. It often reflects limitation and lack of opportunities. Many people think that determining a budget and allocating personal finances strategically puts them in a confined box.

The truth is, determining a plan for your income is the best way to make the most of your money. You will be able to save more money for the things that bring you joy rather than barely catching up with your monthly bills. By planning out your spending, you can better achieve financial freedom and a less stressful life!

The way to do this is to come up with a plan for every dollar you earn. By this, I mean calculate all of your expenses and subtract them from your monthly net income. If there are any elective expenses that you can eliminate, do it! I find that once I write a list down and calculate the total amount being spent each month, it’s a lot easier to narrow down and cut out unnecessary expenses. I should also add that I include paying myself in my expense column. This money goes directly into investment accounts that I do not access. You know, planning for retirement or whatever! I also calculate planned vacation expenses into this total as well. If you don’t plan it ahead of time, the cost of going on a vacation can seem impossible. Don’t let this happen. Everyone needs a vacation!

After you subtract all expenses from your monthly net income, you will find out exactly how much you have left over. Whatever is left, allow yourself some fun money. Everyone needs some spending cash. Whether your budget allows $100 per month of $1000 per month, stick to that. And lastly, the remaining funds should be stored in a separate savings account. I like to think of this account as my usable reserves. If an emergency were to arise, those funds are available, but they’re not as easy to access.

Here are some quick tips on how to keep your budget on track:

  1. Pay yourself first. Even if it seems impossible, make it a habit to put money away for your future. You are the most important thing to spend your money on. Invest in yourself and you will grow!
  2. Withdraw grocery money and fun money in cash. Keep each amounts separate, and stick to the allocated amounts. You’ll notice you spend that money slower when it is in physical form rather than swiping a card.
  3. Cut out unnecessary expenses. If you’re still paying for that gym membership but haven’t visited in over a year, maybe consider cancelling (or better yet, just go to the dang gym!).
  4. Live below your means. Just because you can afford it doesn’t mean that you have to buy it. By living below your means, you will experience more financial freedom and a much more stress-free way of living.

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Keeping a Tidy Home

I’m sure many of you have heard of the “tidying” craze hitting social media that originally started as a result of Marie Kondo’s documentary on Netflix “Tidying Up.” I watched the first episode the other night it became so clear why her ideals are so important for American families to learn!

Generally speaking, it seems like our culture tends to reside in a sort of organized chaos. (I’m talking about myself as well.) We typically like to see organization, but once you start to dig a little bit, the disorder starts to become evident. I notice this in my own home when I open my dresser drawers and see clothes wadded up and shoved in there or when I open the hall closet that contains everything classified as “miscellaneous” that didn’t seem important enough to have on display somewhere. Where am I supposed to put those meaningful knick-knacks that don’t serve a purpose anymore but I would feel guilty throwing away?! I try my best to stay organized, but hey, I’m only human.

With that being said, it is so obvious in watching Marie’s show how much being genuinely tidy affects these families in a positive way! Her respect for the items that we keep in the home and willingness to let go of those things that “no longer bring joy” to us is exactly the lesson so many of us need to learn.

Whenever I am organizing my life, I tend to ask myself three questions:

  1. Have I used this item in the past 6 months?
  2. Is this item relevant to where I am at in my life right now?
  3. If this item were no longer in my house, would I miss it a week from now?

Once you answer these questions about that item, you’ll know more clearly where to store it and you might even get excited about using it all over again!

For me, keeping my house in a clean/organized state helps my overall well-being and keeps me from going crazy when I get home from work in the evenings. It’s so much nicer to come home to a clean house rather than one of chaos. Here are some tips from thenester.com to help you cut out bad habits and promote a happy and organized home!

how to have a clean house #tidy #kitchen*Photo courtest of thenester.com

5 Things People with Tidy Homes Don’t Do

Defining Success

When you hear or read the word SUCCESS, what comes to mind? Money? Fame? Prominence in a certain industry? What about personal time? Relaxation? Whatever it may be, everyone has a little bit of a different take on what the true definition of success is, and this is mine.

The thought of being my own boss has always been the metaphorical carrot dangling in front of my face. It has been my goal ever since I started working for other people. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “If I could create a lifestyle where I can make my own schedule and be in direct control of my income, there are no limits to how far I could go!” Needless to say, being a lifetime employee was never in the cards for me. After all, my parents are both entrepreneurs and I have had the opportunity to watch and help them grow a business from the ground up. I am well-aware of the amount of work it takes to succeed as a small business, and I also know it is 100% worth it.

Businesses are typically considered “successful” if their finances reflect profit, and a growing profit at that. What about the business owner or founder? Is he or she still successful if working 80 hours per week is a normal occurrence? I believe that a successful business is one that is self-sustainable. This means that it does not rely on one person (business owner usually) to keep it operating. Instead, it operates with a team of capable people who keep it moving forward.

For me, I have always felt a strong pull towards my personal time. In elementary school, I would bust through homework as fast as I could during class time or recess in order to reserve my evenings for relaxation with my family. I’m serious, even at the age of 10 I was not interested in taking my work home with me. I value my “me time” extremely highly and guard it well.

Don’t get me wrong, I am also very motivated by money and increasing my income. However, if I were asked if I would rather give up my sacred personal time to make a few extra bucks, I would have to politely decline. My time is so important to me, and being in complete control of it is a major part of what I believe makes someone truly successful.

I prefer to measure the level of success one has based on the amount of free time he or she has to dedicate to whatever makes him or her truly happy. This is just one of the reasons becoming self-employed was my ultimate goal.

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Why a Home Inspection?

When buying a home, it is always a good idea to have it inspected by a professional. The reason being is that home inspectors are much more knowledgeable about construction as a whole and how to judge the condition of a property. When making a large investment in something such as real estate, you will want to know what you are getting yourself into. Here are a few benefits to having a property inspected prior to purchasing it!

  • Limit your liability. Since purchasing a home is likely one of the largest investments you will make, limiting your liability or risk is so important. Ensure that the property you are interested in does in fact fit the bill for you and your family by having it inspected by a seasoned professional. Knowing what you are getting yourself into ahead of time is much less stressful than finding out that major repairs are needed after the fact. It helps prepare you for potential problems that may arise in the future and can help you decide if the property is truly the one for you.
  • Gain leverage with the negotiating process. Having an inspection done on a home can allow you the benefit of having evidence that repairs are needed. This can help when trying to negotiate the purchase price or terms. Spending a couple hundred dollars on a home inspection may end up saving you thousands.
  • Prepare yourself for future repairs. Whether or not you end up using inspection results to leverage your offer, it will definitely give you an idea of what all might be needed as far as maintenance or repairs go. Be proactive in your search for real estate and the experience will be much smoother!

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For more information, check out Zillow.com‘s article that offers advice on how to gain value from your home inspection. Happy home hunting!

Goal Setting 101

Bringing in a new year has always been a big deal in my family. Since it is New Year’s Eve, I figured it would be fitting that I share a tradition that has kept us on track for as long as I can remember.

Everyone has some kind of “New Year’s Resolution,” even if they don’t say it out loud. Whether it be to lose a certain amount of weight or to take on more community service, we all seem to recognize January 1stas a sort of blank slate or white canvas.

In my family, we see January 1st as an opportunity to think critically about what we would like to accomplish in the coming year. It’s more of a time to declare our goals (that may or may not be confined to a one-year period). It varies based on where each of us are at in our lives, but usually there is at least one item that involved personal health and wellness and one item that involves financial goals. We take time as a family to write down short-term and long-term goals, and then share them with each other. There is something about sharing your goals with others that suddenly make them seem more real and hold you a bit more accountable.

Goal setting is incredibly important no matter what your career, status, religion, you get the picture! Here are some suggestions for how to set goals that will be more attainable, making you feel so much more successful in reaching them!

  1. Write them down. Grab a pen and paper and brainstorm what is truly important to you! Then, put the piece of paper somewhere that you will remember so that you can revisit it when necessary.
  2. Be specific. Don’t be vague when it comes to pinpointing your goals. Picture the details of what it will look like or feel like when you accomplish certain goals.
  3. Be deliberate. After you figure out the what, think about the how. It will become so much more real and exciting when you begin to plan the process of accomplishing your goal.
  4. Use a timeframe. Give yourself a time period to aim for accomplishing each step of your goal. It may be helpful to use 6-month, one-year, two-year and five-year increments. Even if you don’t make every deadline, it will help keep you on track.
  5. Lastly, be flexible. If you don’t succeed in hitting your goal the first time, odds are you are much closer to it than you were when you started. Look at the positives and keep going!

2019 is a great opportunity to create new goals for yourself. I hope you find them and accomplish them no matter what they may be. Happy New Year everyone!

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Cold Weather Comfort

It’s that time of the year! Everyone is busy picking up last minute Christmas gifts, going to kids’ recitals, wrapping presents, going to holiday parties…you name it. With all of the hustle and bustle, it’s hard to take the time to prepare that delicious heart-warming meal that sounds so tasty when it’s cold out. The easiest way to accomplish this feat is by using the old fashioned slow cooker. With just a little bit of prep work, you can set it and forget it while you are out buzzing around all day! The best part is, you come home to a meal that is ready to go.

One of my absolute favorite recipes during the festive season is beef bourguignon, made famous by chef Julia Childs. This incredibly rich meal can be time consuming (if done the traditional way) but it’s not a hard one to put together using the slow cooker! Here is the recipe that I have been SO happy with. It is a complete meal in itself, is so hearty, and pleases just about any crowd. Feel free to change a few things up as you wish! I am always a fan of getting creative with recipes. Follow the link below for full recipe!

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

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*Photo and recipe courtesy of therecipecritic.com