Sunday, March 13, 2011

You are the C.E.O. of your family finances!

I spent the better part of Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday and Sunday evening working on our taxes. I am not a Turbo Tax filer. It's okay if you are in the bracket to get it processed free, but I don't see why I should pay to upload my tax return to the government when I can mail it in for a few postage stamps.

Even if you are getting a refund, there isn't a big delay in I.R.S. processing.

I learned taxes by taking the H.R. Block tax course many years ago as we had family members in the business. I actually worked a season or two doing taxes at Sears and I have been doing our personal return ever since.

This helped me learn so much about how to plan for the next tax year. I am no Suze Orman, but I do listen to Suze and Clark Howard. My husband and I each take ownership of various projects, he handles insurance and household repairs, I'm finance and groceries. I cook, he does the dishes, etc.

And we didn't agree on our family finances when we first go married. We had credit card debt and separate accounts to start and now many years later we are a great team! We tithe, save, plan and do our best to steward everything, right down to recycling most of our household trash and donating things to help others in need.

At first my husband was annoyed at all the swapping and trading and giving things back and forth that my family did. We grew up children of divorce and had to make due with less, so there is hardly a visit even today my siblings don't bring something to the other a garage sale or cleaning out their closets.

And I think family's need to embrace that they should run their households like a business and take a hard look at where they are spending and how to grow their family empire! Yes, I said empire. Look it up, it's about wealth controlled by families and businesses. It's not about greed, it's about helping your child(ren) and your children's children and beyond.

Each time I sit down to pay the bills, save on a purchase or put receipts aside for the upcoming tax year, I do so knowing I am helping our family get and stay strong. The economy has tested many, but it's also helped people pool their resources and get back to basics.

Even if you are unemployed and rebuilding your life, what is your strategy to make a "comeback"?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Internet Ads That Target Your Interests

OK, I sell advertising for a living and I was just watching a news story that discusses new tools for search engines who send you ads or place ads on sites where you shop or read blogs, etc. The funny thing is, I honestly believe most consumers won't click on these ads.

Today's consumer isn't enticed by content links that could contain a virus that will shut their computer down. We've all experienced some pop up that took over or loaded viruses on the home or work computer. Most of these were clicked on by mistake and taught a lesson to stay away from links. PERIOD!

Instead we search for what we want. It's all about the organic search. It's just like SMS text advertising. People opt in what is of interest and if they get a text from a provider that they didn't contact they opt out immediately. We don't waste time.

I text with my kids and on rare occasion, a client. I don't want to text anyone else. I have a Facebook that says I don't Facebook, but I have it to see family members photos as they ask me to take a look. I don't want all the clutter of a Facebook and I'm not interested in seeing everyone's friends photos and reading the chatter. Just send me an email and I'm up to date.

I love TWITTER! It's fast. It's short. It's fun. I don't want to converse, I want to share and observe. I guess what I'm saying is the challenge of the internet's future is how to create the TIVO experience for the web.

I don't TIVO either, but my friends swear by it. They love the shows it chooses based on their interests. I would rather HULU. The internet ads are trying to do for the consumer what TIVO does, but we don't trust clicking outside the box. The organic search box or outside the website we're reviewing.

So I think the web has a long way to go. The engine(s) who can keep the pirates out and develop an adware/virus-free experience, guaranteed, will be the king or queen of content/ad sales. May the best company win.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Belated Grief

If you think about it, death is not just about the end of a physical life, but the end of any number of important happenings, relationships, careers, abilities and more.

While we were visiting with friends a discussion came up about adult children who (had lost a parent while they were just a child) were expected to "get over it" in a few months and basically not talk about the sadness or loss. These small children were to go on as though things were fine when they had lost a mom or dad. Not only did the death and lack of grieving frame their future, but it also never went away. Just talking about it would bring that person back to the moment.

It made me think about many friends and family members who have suffered something devastating and how they too were expected to just move on quickly. While it's not healthy to dwell on the past, and I'm not a mental health professional, I think there is something to be said for belated grieving.

It seems that when you watch shows like Celebrity Rehab or Biggest Loser or any number of programs that involve change, the concurrent theme is resolving the source of the pain. Whether it was the death of a parent, child, sibling spouse/partner, the loss of a marriage, job, home, the past revealing of a sexual preference or possible gender change, the suffering of abuse, oppression/persecution or bullying it would seem that it's never too late to seek help.

Though you may have moved on and even managed to enjoy success, it would seem that inner peace might warrant some counseling consideration.

Someone once told me that if you hold in your emotions too long the problem will surface again in strange ways. And I saw how this happened to someone I know well. She had kept an abuse from her family and later became an obsessive complusive hand washer. Again, I'm not a professional, but it seemed the obsessive complusive disorder developed as she held on to this secret and how dirty it made her feel. Over time the OCD became more managable as she revealed the pain of abuse. This sounds oversimplified, but we're talking years of healing.

So my prayer for you is that you find loving support or be that loving support for someone.

Friday, March 4, 2011

It's almost lent...

A client and fellow Catholic asked me what I would be giving up for lent and I said, "well, it's sometimes harder to do something, than it is to give something up."

To explain, if you were to spend 40 days biting your tongue each time you wanted to say something negative and force yourself to say something positive, that would be an example of "doing something" verses giving up soda or candy.

So as we approach Fat Tuesday, I am going to try again to work on the positive. They say it takes 21 days to change a habit, so I have 40.

God bless you as you examine the sacrifices or changes you hope to make during the lenten season. May you find inner peace and joy through the journey.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Johno got your message!

A very good friend and I lost an equally special friend more than 5 years ago, a fellow rep that we knew best as Johno. She and I were always reassuring Johno that we had his back and he equally had ours.

It's hard to put into words the spiritual bond that develops when co-workers experience difficult times together and rise above them. We were a work family. Siblings in sales. We competed with each other, celebrated achievements, cried at each others personal struggles and cheered each other on daily.

When Johno passed away suddenly several years ago, his close friends never stopped talking with him. We would admit that yes, while on a drive to an appointment or drinking our morning coffee, we'd chat with Johno. Most of still have his obit in our car, on a mirror at home or in our wallet. He's become a patron-saint-in-the-making for sales professionals.

And funny thing, he never had enough confidence in himself though he was extremely talented. He was the kind of person sales managers loved to rib and he could dish it out, too. But an hour later he'd wonder if there was a hidden meaning to the jesting and that's when he'd call me or one of his other buddies.

So today was special. I had just left a meeting with one of Johno's favorite clients. As I was driving to my next stop I just got the feeling Johno wanted me to call someone for him. I left a message and wouldn't you know it, she had been talking to Johno for the past 2 days on her drives. She called me and after catching up on our work she told me how the timing was amazing. And I said, "well, I guess Johno wanted you to know he heard you."

We always knew when he needed us, but now-a-days he's always there in spirit when we need him.