December 9, 2017

Emergency Vacation Home Maintenance Car Replacement Budget

Life is not simple. Things go wrong and at the wrong time. This year replaced a car, paid for vacations, paid for 2018 trip to Alaska, replaced powder room vanity, and now have to have a crown plus a wisdom tooth extracted. 3 out of 5 were unexpected, and a 4th was not planned for this year. Did not have to sweat how going to pay for these. Paid cash. Covered by several years’ savings.

~59% of Americans do not have $500-$1,000 to cover an emergency (Bankrate). They would have to put on a credit card or borrow from family/friends. Very uncomfortable position. Been there. How did I get free from those worries?

Any savings is better than none. Start small. Can you spend $5 - $20 less per week? What are you paying for you don’t need? What can you sell you don’t need anymore? Use the freed up income to start.

Spending less than you earn reduces your stress. Stash the cash separate from your spending money so not tempted to spend it. Windfalls go here too. The act of having to transfer the money discourages blowing it.

Put the surplus in a separate account once you have enough. Have a credit union savings account in addition to bank checking & savings accounts. This is where my fund goes separate from monthly expenses. If you are just starting out recommend you get a credit union checking and savings accounts. Put basic expenses plus entertainment spending in checking. Then deposit surplus into savings.

I use one account for Vacations, Christmas Shopping, Emergencies, Home Maintenance and Car Replacement. Not a strict budget. This year creating a HSA account for medical, but the same savings account covers any excess bills.

My budget is rule of thumb based. When my car payment was over, the same amount transferred into savings. Covers car replacement and repairs on older car. If was still paying for car, use to budget $100 per month. Clothes wear out or have to be replaced. Use my monthly average for last year’s spending. Gifts are number you buy for times people buying for. (Not an extravagant giver) Home ownership requires maintenance, so my parents budgeted an extra mortgage payment to cover improvements & repairs. This is my minimum goal for year divided by # paychecks. Simple, but works.

Most of us get a raise every year. My raises get split between increasing 401k contributions, increasing savings, charity donations, and covering increasing costs. If you move it before you see it, you won’t miss spending it.

Took me years to get ahead. Don’t be afraid to start today. Peace of mind is worth it.

November 23, 2017

Everyday Gratitude

Thanksgiving is not the only day we should be grateful.
Every day we have family, friends, co-workers and businesses who serve us. Yes they can annoy, irritate and frustrate us. But they care for us.
Priests, Ministers, and people guide us toward spirituality and faith.
Abundant food, not subsistence farming. The biggest problem is being overweight, not starvation.
Modern miracles of medicine cure illnesses, cancers, and diseases that shortened the lives in the past.
Physical Therapists and Chiropractors help our bodies recover.
Transportation where products from all over the world are available, and we can go anywhere.
Volunteers serve charities all over the world giving their time and unpaid efforts.
Think every morning what are you grateful?

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

November 19, 2017

Learning Empathy

With experience we learn more ways to solve problems. We heard ideas from other people. We have seen alternates ideas tried, and the results. We can apply these same ideas in more situations.

We have learned money is not always the answer. And there are times where money buys the solution. We learn when to prioritize it.

Understand little children will be little boys & girls - noisy, full of energy and running around. Understand teenagers will be teenagers with so many insecurities, and so much they don’t know yet. Understand parents are encountering so much they have not seen, and feel so inadequate.

Understand when others are in pain, because of my injuries. Understand their frustration because of my frustrations. Understand it may not be their fault because of times it was not my fault. Understand jobs become unbearable or go away.
Understand we grow old, and our minds say yes while our bodies refuse to cooperate.

People are more important to us despite their problems they bring. Customers are often a challenge. Suppliers and vendors miss deadlines. Family and friends can disappoint you. Through it all relationships are a priority.

 “With Age Comes Wisdom” is the expression. More important we learn empathy. People need our empathy.

November 11, 2017

Do More Than Thank Veterans

I am a kind, thoughtful and helpful man today because of the vets in my life. Uncles & Great Uncles in WW2, Korea, Vietnam. Working with Army, Navy, Air Force, Seabees, Marines, Coast Guard & Green Berets. Friends who served in Vietnam, Beirut, Germany & around the world. Our finest have taught me much about life, the world, enjoying today, and hard work successfully done.

We would not be the free people we are without their sacrifices. Yet they are less appreciated today than in the past. With the smaller volunteer services , we may know fewer personally. Society today often thinks they are killers, have PSTs, wildly conservative, or act erratic. No they are good people. They are our neighbors. They are in our churches. They are our co-workers.

We have to do more than thank them for their service. They just think they were doing their duty. They have seen much and deserve respect and help succeeding. They also have awesome training and experiences that every company needs.

Most veterans leave their first civilian job within one year. They not only need to be hired, they need to know how to adjust to a different world.

In the military you are told everything. Where to stand, what to eat, when to wake, when to sleep, and sent anywhere they are needed. You don’t think, you do. Transition to the working world where instructions and success are not clear is challenging.

Give them mentors, both civilian and veterans. Explain our missions, and why what we do is important. Let them know we expect they will ask questions. Answer them and encourage them.

Most important, treat them like family. Let them know they are important, and doing their work is appreciated. After a short while, they will be among the most productive coworkers you have. At work we are so grateful they work with us.

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure."
 - General Colin L. Powell

November 4, 2017

Business Declines by Expansion

Your business of premium products is on fire. New products and new lines in more stores. Sales are up. You have lowered costs by manufacturing overseas. This quarter’s profits are greatly beating expectations.

Several years later same store sales are declining, especially the premium locations. Popularity with prime wealthy consumers has declined. What happened?

Fast Company covered the decline of American Premium Fashion Brands in their article below. All had common business mistakes.
  • Watering brand down by selling though large department and outlet stores.
  • Lowering product design quality to meet price points on new lines.
  • Leaving local master producers for overseas production.
  • Slower reaction to changing consumer tastes increases inventory.
  • More sales due to inventory overstocks.
  • Declining consumer interest due to overexposure and quality fails.

Premium products are sold in elegant stores with superior service. Not by serve yourself stores and factory stores. The lower price / higher sales mean less cachet. Why should we aspire to buy a common product?

In the 90’s lock industry, foreign grade 2 locks were becoming popular due to low costs. At Sargent we analyzed the product and found the structure quality was good, but the finish quality was less. Also found the lock cylinders were lacked consistent quality. To successfully introduce lower cost products, we limited sales to 2 common finishes and installed our own lock cylinders. The performance and interchangeability of the key system kept customers re-orders and new sales. This prevented brand dilution and increased market share.

Recovering from branding mistakes is difficult. Companies are presenting themselves as a warm, inclusive brand more in line with current Millennial Culture. Others are curating product lines to keep focus. Michael Kors is limiting sales to maintain prices. 

Much harder to recover, than to maintain your brand’s image. Don’t dilute you brand because it sounds like easy money.

Emergency Vacation Home Maintenance Car Replacement Budget

Life is not simple. Things go wrong and at the wrong time. This year replaced a car, paid for vacations, paid for 2018 trip to Alaska, repla...