4 Tips to growing your small business


As a business owner it is important that you continue to strive towards greater goals. One of your goals is likely to be about growing and expanding your business. To grow your business, you will need to think strategically as well as logistically as to how you can achieve this goal. While growing your business is the ideal outcome, there are things along the way that will need to evolve as well. Perhaps your will need a bigger staff or a larger office space. There are many things to consider which is why we have put together some great tips for growing your small business.

  1. Create a mission for your business and let it direct your business. Your mission statement should lend to the values and goals of your business. You will want to create a mission statement that can easily flow with your strategic plan and it should direct your every move. In addition to the mission statement providing you with direction on how to grow your business, it will also inform your customers and vendors as to what you are striving to achieve. Be sure to post your mission statement and vision for your business on your website and on pertinent materials that are given to new or potential clients, as well as vendors and other partners. Finally, your employees should be well-versed in the mission statement and also buy-in to its meaning and values.

  1. Accept online payments. One of the best ways to grow your business is by creating an online presence and having the ability to accept online payments for services or products. In today’s world, consumers are purchasing more online than ever before because it is convenient and an easy way to do business. In addition, companies are providing apps and other ways that customers can schedule appointments and keep track of records. Providing your company the opportunity to schedule clients, sell items online, and accept payments with companies such as MyPaymentSavvy make doing business online seamless and stress-free.

  1. Build strong relationships. Business is very much about building relationships; not only with your vendors but also your customers. It is important to value your vendors and your customers and show them throughout the year. Whether you build your relationship by face-to-face interactions or through social media, it is important that you appreciate and show gratitude to those who make your business a success.

Hold employees accountable. While not the most enjoyable aspect of owning a business, it is imperative that you hold your employees accountable so that they are helping to run your business in an efficient manner. In addition, it is important that your employees are well trained in their areas of expertise as well as in the overall business operations strategic plan. There is nothing more frustrating than being a patron at a business and the employees are not up to date on what is going on at the establishment or worse, they don’t care. Having employees who are committed to your mission and vision in running your company will translate to your customers and positive word of mouth will spread.

Learn more great tips about some common mistakes and how to avoid them in this informative piece.

The Best Investments For A Comfortable Retirement


Have you ever thought about retiring? Of course you have! The thought of sitting on a golden, sandy beach sipping mojitos is all that gets you through the day! But, it isn’t that type of planning that we are talking about here. No, Funky Frugal Mommy wants to delve into the world of retirement planning because most people leave it too late. And, the thought of scrimping and saving in your old age should be enough to kick start you into action. To ensure that the dream retirement plan is possible, you need the cash to fund the venture. With that in mind, below are the investments everyone should consider.

Private Pension Plan

Because a public plan is available to everyone, some people bother with a backup arrangement. As far as retirement planning goes, this is the worst mistake to make because the benefits of a private pension are wide-ranging. Have you ever heard of superannuation? No, well a superannuation advisor is a person that can increase the growth of your returns and possibly secure tax-free money. Plus, schemes exist that compel companies to match employee contributions. As a result, you can double your money by investing the same amount in a private pension plan.

Property

Land and real estate are a long-term game. However, they are two of the most lucrative investment opportunities if you get on board in time. The reasons are two-fold. Firstly, a property is and always will have high demand, which means it’s an asset that easy to offload. Secondly, it is possible to make money from a building even if you have to take out a loan. All an owner has to is rent it out to cover the mortgage payments, and the equity will be all theirs by the time they reach retirement age.

Annuities

Again, this investment is a long-term one that pays off by the time you retire. Quite simply, you make an investment in annuities with an insurance company, and they pay out. Of course, it isn’t as simple as that because every investment has the potential to go wrong. But, if you opt for a low-risk strategy, you can reduce the chance of failure and accrue money over time. The best thing about annuities is the fact that they are flexible. So, you can defer the payments to ensure that you receive the money when it best suits you.

Individual Stocks

Stocks don’t seem like a good idea for lay people, but they aren’t as intimidating as you might believe. As long as you invest in the stocks that are not volatile, the rewards can be quite high. And, if you don’t think that is true, just ask Warren Buffett. He says that buying stock in big companies where the fluctuations are less pronounced is a great way to win. Plus, because it is a retirement plan, you can wait longer before cashing in on the returns.

Planning for retirement might not seem like something you need to do now, but the sooner you start, the better. 

A Frugal Guide To Coping With Empty Nest Syndrome

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Some of the happiest years of our lives are spent making a house a home. It’s a slow process that takes years and often decades. It’s the process of turning a shell of wood, brick and stone into a place of love and laughter, tears and tantrums, magic and memories. It’s where we watch our families grow from chuckling babies to adults with hopes, dreams and responsibilities of their own.

When our kids grow up and leave to go to college or start new families of their own then the dynamic of the family home can start to change. The space that was so necessary when it was shared with a whole family can seem cavernous if you’re suddenly left on your own. If you’ve been a single parent all these years then it can also mean that you’re left with more home than you can afford. Here are some ways you can beat those Empty Nest Syndrome blues, while saving some money to spend on the things that will make you happier.

Purge your possessions with a yard sale

As we get older we tend to accrue a lot of possessions for ourselves and our kids. As our kids grow up we find ourselves unwilling to part with all those old toys and baby clothes because they’re inextricably attached to treasured memories. But these memories can become compromised, even toxified because we start to associate them with loss which isn’t healthy. Removing clutter can be a useful way of giving yourself closure and embracing this new stage in your life. By all means, keep one or two things, but try to keep only that which is most precious. Throw a yard sale, or even put some of your kids’ childhood toys on ebay. You’d be astonished at what some of those old toys are worth. Just be sure you consult with your kids first as you may not know which items they’re most sentimentally attached to.

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Downsizing: it may be the smartest move

When your kids were living at home but holding down some employment, then they may have paid you rent, board or upkeep upon which you’ve grown dependent. Without their assistance then you may be left with more house than you can afford. Plus, with retirement drawing nearer, the importance of savings is greater than ever. If this is the case then you may need to rethink your housing situation. You may be able to release some of the equity on your property if you have short term costs that need to be addresses but in many cases, downsizing may be a shrewd financial move. While you may miss your old home eventually, there are many glorious apartments in which you can enjoy this stage of your new life and splurge a little knowing that you have reduced rent, mortgage, taxes and utilities.

While an empty nest can be a saddening prospect for any parent, it’s a natural and inevitable event that should be celebrated. Be happy for your kids as they forge their own paths and find ways to reward yourself for being the person that put them on that path!

Getting Ready for September

 Tips and pointers to prepare for the first year of post-secondary



The high school year is not quite done, and no doubt soon-to-be graduates are thinking more about their prom and graduation parties than they are their pending arrival in the post-secondary world.
But school choices are now in, and once summer vacation hits it will be time to start thinking about and preparing for their first year after high school.

“Post-secondary school is not like high school, and the workload, expectations and independence can catch some students off guard,” says Heather Cummings, Executive Director, Student Success, Fanshawe College. “Dedicating a little bit of time over the summer to get ready and familiarize yourself with your new school can make a huge difference once classes start after Labour Day.”
Fanshawe offers the following five tips to help recent graduates get ready for their first year:
  
1.    Be social. Today’s youth are already active on social media. It is their top source of information. Seek out where your school is on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and perhaps even Snapchat, and follow them. They will be providing key information about upcoming events and resources available for incoming students. If you come across any online groups, join in the conversation. You may make some new friends before the school year even begins.
2.    Get to know the school and surrounding neighbourhood. Many schools offer times in the summer when you can visit and tour the campus, check out the facilities and amenities, check out the area around the campus, pick up your student card, engage with various student organizations and clubs, complete any post-admission requirements and meet other students who will be starting with you — and facing many of the same apprehensions and challenges.
3.    Find a place to live. Maybe you have applied for residence and hope to live on campus. But space is limited and these spots are often not guaranteed. It won’t hurt to browse some of the off-campus housing available. It is also wise to review your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, especially if this will be your first time living away from your parents’ home.
4.    Start a list. There are a lot of items you’ll want to have at school with you — from academic requirements to personal items. Start a list of those things you want to take, and post it on your bulletin board or the refrigerator so that you can easily update it if something new comes to mind. Build this list throughout the summer so that when it’s time to pack you will already know everything you are going to need.
5.    Save. There are costs associated with post-secondary school that you didn’t have to worry about in high school. Besides tuition, you will have to buy your books and any supplies specific to your program. There is rent to pay and food to buy. And that says nothing for the incidentals — after all, you will also want to maintain some sort of social life to balance with your studies. Make a budget and start saving. You can also seek out some financial help. Many students don’t realize how many bursaries, grants and scholarships are there, waiting to be tapped. A quick Google search will uncover several opportunities for financial help. It is never too late to apply. There are also many financial management seminars available at colleges and universities over the summer that offer the support of campus experts.
“Starting post-secondary school is a big transition,” says Cummings. “But it will always be a benefit to be prepared.”

About Fanshawe College:
Fanshawe is one of Ontario’s largest colleges, with campuses in London, Simcoe, St. Thomas and Woodstock serving close to half a million people with a promise to educate, engage, empower and excite. For 50 years, Fanshawe has been helping people to unlock their potential and achieve success. The College attracts students from 70 countries every year and opens up a world of possibilities through more than 200 degree, diploma and certificate programs, along with apprenticeship training. Fanshawe celebrates its 50thanniversary in 2017, an exciting opportunity to reflect on how much the College has grown since 1967 and how it will continue to have a meaningful impact on future students.

3 Benefits of Joining a Hobby Group




A positive, enriching hobby that you enjoy delivers amazing mental health benefits. Yet, Dr. Jaime L. Kurtz points out that hobbies are declining because Americans have no free time. The problem, according to Dr. Kurtz, is that we waste time and create the illusion of being too busy for hobbies. The truth is, most people do have enough time to engage in a hobby, and you should make more time for these activities to reap the benefits to your health and well-being. Not convinced? Keep reading to learn more about three benefits of joining a hobby group.

1. Hobbies Give Us a Sense of Control

Between work and home, we often feel that we don’t have much control over our lives or our time. Hobbies empower people to choose how to spend their time, which projects to work on, and the level of creativity they put into them. Pursuing hobbies alleviates the frustration and intimidation we feel at work and in life in general when we feel a loss of control over our time or our actions. On the other hand, being able to regain a sense of control over our lives by pursuing hobbies and interests we enjoy, we tend to feel more centered and calm.

2. Hobbies Relieve Stress

A recent study found that hobbies are just as important to good health and overall well-being as exercise because they help to reduce stress. Specifically, researchers found that people who engage in leisure activities are 34% less stressed and 18% less sad than when they were not pursuing hobbies. People who engaged in hobbies also felt happier and had lower heart rates that calmed them for hours. It’s worth noting that the study did not find any benefit of one hobby over another; when participants did something they deeply enjoyed, they significantly reduced their stress levels.

Dr. Matthew Zawadzki, lead author of the study, explains that the long-term effects of relieving stress by pursuing hobbies are positive because “stress causes a build-up of higher heart rate, blood pressure, and hormone levels, so the more we can prevent this overworked state, the less of a load it builds up.” In fact, chronic stress is linked to higher risk of heart disease, increased depression, poor performance at work and school, weight gain, memory loss, a weakened immune system, and earlier death.

3. Hobbies Provide a New Social Circle

Recent research shows that loneliness and social isolation threaten our health just like obesity does. Fortunately, we can combat these detrimental effects by pursuing a group hobby, becoming a member of a new social circle, and building friendships with those who share similar interests. When you establish friendships with like-minded peers, you increase your sense of connectedness, reduce your stress levels and improve your mental health.

There are several ways to find a hobby group in line with your interests and passions. Search for local Meetups and clubs that center on your particular interests. You may join a local Book Club, fly-tying club, or baking group. Or, you may find neighbors who share your passion for model trains or dollhouses. No matter the hobby, you will reap the mental health benefits of group inclusion. You also can create T-shirts for your group if you go on outings, participate in competitions, or want to promote your group at a local function, which helps to build camaraderie.

Pursuing a hobby and joining a hobby group are ideal ways to improve your mental health and well-being by reducing stress. When you pursue a hobby, you gain a sense of control, relieve stress in a healthy way, and gain new social connections to others who share your interests.

Image via Pixabay by Counselling

Family Transitions: Tips For Moving An Aging Parent Into Your Home

As our parent's age, we want to do what is best for their wellbeing. And while this care takes on many forms, many adult children are now living with their aging parents. This transition is much like other life milestones -- there are pros and cons.

"One out of every four caregivers lives with the elderly or disabled relative he or she cares for," Mard Naman writes for Caring. "This arrangement can have many positives. If your parent or other loved one is still relatively healthy, he may be able to babysit or otherwise help around the house, contribute financially, and get to know your children in a way that would never be possible with only occasional visits."

So, if you decide that this is a potential step for your family, what should you consider? The following are some of the most important steps that you should take before opening your home to your elderly parents or in-law.


  • Build a Budget: To make the transition as stress-free for everyone involved, it is absolutely crucial to create a new household budget. Although it's never comfortable talking about money, you may need to consider whether your loved one has Social Security payments or savings to contribute to the family finances. Either way, you should know exactly how this transition will affect your finances before moving day.
  • Have A Family Conversation: You don't have to make your loved one's care decisions on your own. Depending on your family's circumstances, it may be best to also include siblings and other family members in the conversation. This way, you can consider all possible paths before deciding that moving them into your home is the best choice.
  • Manage Their Home Sale: Moving your aging family member into your home may mean that you will have to sell their home. They may need your help to do this, but don't hesitate to hire a professional. In a recent survey, 78% of home buyers found their real estate agent to be a useful information source. No matter their prior living situation, it is often worth it to sell through a company rather than on your own.
  • Account For Their Health Needs: Before your loved one moves in, make an appointment with their doctor to go over how you can help manage their health. If they have any special equipment, you will need to learn how to use it safely. Of course, your personal involvement will vary depending on their own mental capacity.
  • Adjust Your Home: Living with an elderly family member will likely require you to modify your home for their safety. Since 50% of falls happen in the home, it is important for you to install railings, remove floor hazards, and make your bathroom more accessible. Since 65% of people over the age of 60 experience dizziness or loss of balance, sometimes daily, you need to be ready.
  • Know Your Care Capacity: Knowing your loved one's risk for falls and other injuries, you should also consider how capable you actually are of monitoring their health and providing care. Especially if you have young children, this may not be feasible. This is why at-home care can be an attractive option for many families. According to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, there are over 2 million home care workers providing services in the United States today. Hiring one of these trained professionals may be worth it for your busy family.


As you are making this important decision, remember that moving your aging loved one into your home may not necessarily be the best option for your family. Dana Larson writes in A Place For Mom that assisted living communities can also be a viable long term care solution for your parent, especially when living at home deprives them of social contact.

"This is why many families opt to move their aging relatives into a residential community, or assisted living -- where there is 24-hour access to personal care, as well as nutrition and wellness services designed specifically for older adults," she writes. "In these communities, seniors can enjoy social contact, security and support while still maintaining their independence. You will need to decide what makes the most sense for your family’s unique situation."

No matter what you decide, remember to always keep your loved one's best interest and wishes at heart. Anything you do should be done out of compassion. That will guide you well.

How to Have Fun with Arts and Crafts on a Budget

Arts and crafts are a lot of fun, but it can sometimes be costly to buy all of the crafts and materials you need to get started. However, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have with arts and crafts. You and your family can get started and have a lot of fun without breaking the bank. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to do everything that all those fancy blogger and vloggers are doing. It’s often more fun to go back to basics. Here are some tips to help you out.

Start with What You Have in the Home

It’s probably possible for you to do some art and craft work without even having to buy anything. Most of us have some equipment and materials that have been lying around the house for a long time. It definitely makes sense to make use of this stuff before you start thinking about spending money on other items that you might want to use. If you use what’s in the home, you can get started without spending a dime.

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Focus on Crafts That Make Use of Cheap Materials

There are some crafts that don't require lessons, expensive tools, high-end materials or modern gadgets. These are the crafts that you should be focusing on if you want to do this on a budget and save some money. So, which crafts are best if you want to make use of cheap materials? First of all, try out origami. It only uses paper and not much else. You can learn how to do origami online, and there is more to it than you might imagine. It’s fun, cheap and requires skill, so try it out.

Make Use of the Internet and Buy in Bulk

The internet is your friend when it comes to buying materials and items for your arts and crafts projects. You can find so many great websites out there that sell materials very cheaply. And there are some tricks that you can make use of in order to make sure that you find the best deals possible. Firstly, you should think about buying things in bulk. They can last you a long time, and you get a much better deal if you buy large rather than small quantities. It’s also a good idea to look for unwanted leftovers being sold online.

Use Your Imagination

This is the final and most important point of all. Anything is possible, and that’s the fun of arts and crafts. And that means that you can do what you want if you use your imagination and get creative. You simply don’t need expensive items in order to unleash your own creativity. It’s just not necessary. So, try to be as creative and as imaginative as you can when it comes to taking part in arts and crafts activities. You will be surprised at just what you can achieve on a limited budget when you really put your mind to it.

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July Swago INTL


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The best part is that the points you get can be used to get free gift cards to places like Amazon, or PayPal cash! 

Fill up your board and then submit your pattern to get even more points - if you can fill in the whole board, you get a 300 SB bonus! 

Click here to sign up and get started! If you sign up through my link and earn 300 SB before the first of next month, you'll get a bonus 300 SB!

5 Tips to helping your children understand life under water


Helping kids understand wildlife and underwater creatures can be a joy as it opens their eyes to a world outside of their own. Children are full of wonder and their innocence can be endearing. Teaching kids about life and all that it entails is something that is time consuming and never ending but can also be a lot of fun. This article will help point out some ideas and ways in which you can help your kids understand life under water in a fun way.

  1. Purchase an aquarium. Aquarium's allow children to see that fish and other creatures live in water. Be sure to choose an aquarium that is big enough that your kids can see the fish swimming around. You will also want a tank that can hold a filter and some type of feature that the fish can enjoy. Involve your child in the purchasing process and let them help you pick out some of the items for the tank. To learn more, check out https://hugokamishi.com/shop/hugo-small-fry-kids-fish-tank-blu/. While shopping, you can teach the children about the fish and the type of water the fish should live in as well as the food that is fed to the fish. After explaining to the child about the fish and how they live in water, you can follow up the experience with another activity.

  1. Storytime. Engage your child in a story about fish in the water. There is no shortage on creative children’s entertainment about the underwater world. You can read a book about Dory and the underwater friends, or Spongebob Squarepants. While reading the story, you can help the child understand the photos and the story. You can then draw a parallel between the story and the fish tank that you purchased.

  1. Drawing. After reading a story with your child, offer them the opportunity to color and draw how they portray life under the sea. If your child is too young to draw, perhaps purchase an under the sea coloring book. This will give your child an opportunity to color and continue to learn about sea life and fish.

  1. Aquarium trip. Many cities have great aquarium’s that you can visit with your child. Many aquarium’s have a variety of fish and sea creatures in vast tanks. Most aquarium’s allow for people to check out sea life that are typically not seen on a daily basis such as sharks, jellyfish, sea urchins, starfish, seals, or even walruses. It is likely that the aquarium will also have children’s programs that take place throughout the day which will also teach your child about the ocean and its inhabitants.
  1. Movies. If your child loves to watch movies, there are so many great flicks to show them that will teach them about the water and life under the sea. Some great movies to consider showing your child include but are not limited to the Little Mermaid, Free Willy, Little Nemo, or Dory.

Kitchen Tips For The Tidy Cook: More Food With Less Mess

Your kitchen is the heart to that almighty balance in your life. It’s what your everyday life boils down to - cooking and eating, making dirty and cleaning up, giving and taking. If you were to look for meaning in your life, you should steer far away from the kitchen as nothing will strike you as more trivial and meaningless than the process of cooking, eating, and cleaning - holistically speaking.

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Image from: Pexels

To be able to enjoy it, you need to give in to the pointlessness of it all and accept it for what it is; life’s simple pleasures and the steady rhythm of routines. Make use of these kitchen hacks to enjoy it without all the mess, and look forward to cooking up a lot more meals in the future.

The food scraps bowl

Sure, you’ll find a ton of smart products, foldable chopping boards, and DIY composts to clean up your cooking a bit, but you don’t actually need all of this. A simple paper towel is able to make your life easier - and you don’t even have to log in to Amazon. Place the towel or bowl next to your chopping board and empty any peels or scraps into this as you go.

It’s strange how life-changing this garbage bowl has been to hobby chefs around the world; such a simple fix and so much time to be saved.

It’s the perfect partner in crime for the tidy and organized chef who’s already mastered the art of finishing all the prep before starting to cook. Now you don’t have to see transparent peels of onion land on your kitchen floor, and you don’t have to rush the chopping.

If you do spill on the floor, make sure to clean it up right away. Not only because it looks a lot neater and will keep you happy as you cook, but also because spillages tend to dry and become tougher with time. Invest in a decent vacuum cleaner for tile floors and make it your favourite kitchen assistant.

The hot and soapy water bowl

How many bowls do you have available in your kitchen? They’ll be your favourite friends when cooking, so make use of another one to rinse your utensils in. That way, you don’t have to walk away from the cooking or chopping to gather dishes by the sink - plus, you get to reuse your knives and other equipment right away.

A kitchen always looks a lot messier when spoons, knives, and spatulas are scattered over the entire counter. With this helpful bowl by your side, they’ll all be gathered in one soapy place instead.

Start with an empty dishwasher too, by the way, so you don’t have to look at the utensils you don’t plan on using anymore. There is a right way of loading it and a wrong way, so have a look at this article if you haven’t read your dishwasher manual either - like the rest of us.

Too many people avoid cooking because they hate cleaning up afterwards - so they turn to simple meals instead. Give them this handy article and turn their lives around; after all, who in their right mind would choose an easy sandwich when they could eat a golden and cheesy frittata?

Make Beautiful Art To Keep or Sell With Chalk Couture

Create stylish and beautiful art pieces with the most simple to use products available!  Chalk Couture is revolutionizing DIY and home décor...