Archives for July 2016

Excelling at Networking

In today’s society everything is about networking. I know you’ve heard of it, but what does it mean and how can you excel at it. How can it make you better at your job? Networking is defined by Google as “interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.” Even though we network all the time, is there a right way to accomplish this? The answer is yes. Just like everything else there are some guidelines and rules that can make you networking more successful. The goal is to be confident, so let’s look at a few ways we can help ourselves be better networkers.

  1. Adopt A Confident Posture. When your mother told you to stand up straight she was not just trying to give you good posture, she was trying to give you confidence. People who stand straight with their shoulders back and feet aligned with their hips appear open and receptive. It is more comfortable. People find they want to talk to you and want to be around you more. Make sure your tone of voice and eye contact follow up with the good posture. Everything about you needs to speak of confidence.
  2. Ask OpenEnded Questions. The conversation will quickly die if everything can be answered with a yes or no. Ask questions that can be turned into a conversation. Shine the light on other people by asking them questions about themselves. They will feel important. Do not be the guy that just talks about himself. It is annoying. Practice asking who, what, where, when, why and how questions. Prepare answers to the standard questions, and if you are asked a one-answer question find a way to expand you answer.
  3. Wear Something Distinctive. There are other ways to begin a conversation. Having something distinctive to wear, such a jewelry, a pin that supports a charity, or even a flower can help draw people in making it easier to start a conversation. It also gives them something to remember you by. Make sure you have a story to go along with it to make it stand out more. It can also reveal something about your interest and build a rapport with people.
  4. Know When and How to Extract Yourself from a Conversation. The goal when networking, especially at an event, is to meet as many people as possible. So it is important not to get trapped with just one person. You need to move on, but make sure you are polite about leaving. You can ask to call them later to finish the conversation, or have them make an appointment if they are wanting advice. Make sure to take their information and politely leave to meet someone else.
  5. Follow Up. This is the most important step in making networking successful. The first meeting is just a start. Send them a note, give them a call, send them what you promised, etc. The following gives the opportunity to continue to build the relationship.
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No Emergency Savings

In a recent study, it was revealed that 66 million US adults have no money saved in an emergency fund. This mean that we are unprepared for unplanned expenses.

When we look at all the different ages represented the survey finds that the Generation X have the worst time saving money. One-third of people ages 35-51 have nothing in savings. This compares to almost 20% of all the other ages 18 and above. So how can this be?

Most people over the age of 25 generally have a saving of at least six months, but during the age of 35-51 is usually when the need to use the emergency fund catches up with you. Most Gen Xer save money when they can but they have most likely used it to pay for the fridge that broke down or the car that needs to be repaired. Some may have even been laid off and are using the money to pay for bills.

This is a common experience across America. But you know that growing a savings take time, and Americans spend money as fast as it comes in during the child rearing and home buying stage of life. Families are not in the habit of saving and whatever you do manage to save is wiped out almost as soon as it is saved.

So what is the answer. Around 47% of Americans say they could not cover an emergency of $400, or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money. We all know that it is important to have at least 6 months of expenses saved for an emergency fund. Only 28% have saved this much and it is an improvement over last year’s 22%.

How do we get there? We form a habit. Saving is a habit and must come a little at a time. It is recommended to put away $20 a paycheck into a savings account. Don’t stress your cash flow, but dsave what you can.

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Tips for Paying Off Students Loans

You have now graduated and the time is coming when you must pay back your students loans. These debts can be overwhelming and enormous to recent graduates. In 2015, the average college student graduates with $35,000 in student loan debt. That is as much as buying a car or a healthy down payment on a home. So how do you pay them off and not eat ramen noodles for the next ten years? That is a good question.

Anymore when you take out a student loan your probably went through some type of financial training. I know most don’t pay attention to this at the time because paying back loans is so far away, but it is really important to pay attention. The following are tips to help make paying back loans easier.

  1. Use Online Financial Tools: Online financial tools such as Feed the Pig or 360 Degree of Financial Literacy are committed to helping young people get control of their finances. Many even go beyond just paying pack loans and can even assist in creating monthly budgets that coincides with your current life stage.
  2. Create A Budget: This may seem like a given, but it is honestly one of the easiest ways to get finances under control. There are many apps and budget ideas to keep you on track. Do your research and find the one that works for you. Some good ones are Mint and YNAB (You Need a Budget). Mint is free and YNAB is free for students. Prioritize your needs and set the budget to accommodate them. Pay extra when you can towards your highest interest loan. Keep an eye on your money.
  3. Seek Assistance: If you can’t do it on your own, check into financial resources such as financial counseling, which are available on most campuses. Look at employers and see if they offer incentives that help pay off loans. Debt consolidation is another option. This can make it even more overwhelming, but it may work for you. Keep your options open.
  4. Make Timely Payments: By making timely payments you keep your credit score high, which in turn will open opportunities for you in the future. This could include lower car payments, a bigger line of credit at a bank or in a home loan. Good credit should never be underrated.
  5. Find Creative Ways to Save: If you can find ways to save money then do it. Coupons, local deals, renegotiate payments, or see if payments can be lowered. If you can save yourself money, then you can put more money towards paying off loans or saving it for another day.
  6. Focus On the Whole Picture: Loans are just one aspect of your finances. It is important to keep an eye on the future and get comfortable with the fact that this process will take time. There is no easy fix and it cannot be expected to go away overnight.
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Beware of Scams

In the wake of the Orlando shooting, we once again think of all the possibilities to give, but beware of the scams. Inevitably someone will try to take advantage of people’s generosity. These scams may involve phone, social media, email, or in-person solicitations. The following are tips to keep yourself safe while helping where you can.

  • Donate to Recognized Charities: Beware of charities with similar names to the familiar or nationally known charities. Websites can look legitimate or sound respectable, but are far from it. The IRS has a list of qualified charities that can help you decide which one you want to donate to. Go to https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/search-for-charities to find legitimate charities.
  • Don’t Give Personal Information: A legitimate charity will not ask for your social security number, passwords to accounts, or other personal identifying information. The legitimate charities allow you donate through secure websites.
  • Don’t give or send cash: Only send check or use credit cards. This provides documentation and can be tracked if necessary. Cash can get lost and has no way of being tracked.
  • Bogus Website: These website by ask for funds for victims and mimic legitimate websites. There may go as far as saying they are affiliated with the legitimate charities.
  • Scammers Often Send Emails: Emails can lead to the bogus websites. They may look legitimate, but you need to check them out before you decide to send money. If you receive an email or phone call you believe to be a scam you can report it to the IRS by going to https://www.irs.gov/uac/report-phishing.

Don’t fall victim to peoples need to get money for free. Be cautious, but don’t lose your ability for compassion and willingness to help.

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