Throwback Thursday – A Holiday Weekend

Yes, I know it is only Thursday but I am sure you are already planning for a long holiday weekend, right?  This post was originally written back in 2013 (when I was a newbie to blogging).

Growing up on the Jersey Shore, Memorial Day weekend was filled with mixed emotions. It was the start of the summer season which meant the “bennies” (or shoobies as we called them in South Jersey) would be invading for the next few months.

In high school, I worked at Kohr’s at Third Avenue so this was the first BIG weekend we got to work. Typically, we started working on weekends when it was nice around Easter. This was the weekend we were able to reconnect with old friends who came home from college or those who traveled to work for the summer. We enjoyed days on the beach and long nights on the boardwalk – working and hanging out with friends. The summer traffic was never really thought about nor did we really think about the people invading our beaches.

Fast forward to my mid-20’s when I moved to South Jersey – living just outside of Ocean City and working in Atlantic City.  I came to dread this weekend. No longer did it hold the joy of traveling to the beach and long nights of hanging on the boardwalk. Now it was filled with shoobies/ bennies who congested the roads and littered our beaches. It made parking impossible. The joy of the summer was replaced with dread. Honestly, we spent more time at the beach from Easter to around the middle of June then we did the entire summer. Those were the days filled with sunshine, quiet moments on the beach and only a little bit of traffic mostly caused by locals.  

Yes, I know it is great for the economy and a definite plus for all of the small businesses in the area. For many businesses, the summer season is what carries them through the long cold winter.  As for me, I will wait until the mid-week between now and mid June to enjoy the warmth of the beach and strolls on the boardwalk. Then I will wait, patiently, for the crowds to go home before I head back to the beach. The pool at the complex will be my haven during the day and on an occasional mid-week night, we may travel down to take a stroll on the boardwalk.

Last Sunday after we celebrated our wedding anniversary at the Wharfside in Point, we rode along the beach.  I will admit, the excitement of seeing the rides going, people walking on the boardwalk and some traffic brought back so many memories. I actually can’t wait this year to enjoy some of the craziness.

What are your plans for this weekend at the Jersey Shore? Do you have any tips for avoiding the crowds and still enjoying our wonderful beaches? I would love to hear them.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Time to Get Your Finances In Order

I’ll admit, I am not the one to give financial advice because I still struggle with staying on budget as well as paying down debt.  As hubby says “You will never be a Rockefeller” which is why I was a perfect fit for social work and non-profits.I am always looking for tips on how to get better at this because:

Managing your money is the key to success!

So, if you’re looking to try and get your finances in order, stop spending, and start saving, here are some top tips are for you to try….

 

1. Create a Spreadsheet 

Do you know how much you owe?  If you have debt, do you now how much your interest rate is on each one? To easily organize your finances, a spreadsheet is a great way to see your income and your expenses.  You can create one in Google Drive so you can stay on top of it.   I have a list including interest charges so when there is extra money, I can pay down on the highest interest rate first.

2. Set Up Savings 

I know this sounds crazy if you have debt BUT you need to start saving for an emergency.  It can be as little as $10 a paycheck or $25 a month.  Check with your bank too for some of those instant kind of saving programs.  Bank of America takes the change from your ATM transactions, rounds up and the money is put in your savings account.  Those pennies add up quickly.  It all helps!

3. Organize Direct Debits 

I used to advocate direct debits but when my income varies, it is better for me to have repeated reminders set up. I have reminders set up on each of my credit cards when payments are due – 14 days out and 1 week out.  This ensures I avoid any late payment fees and any (further) damage to your credit score.

4. Refrain From Impulse Purchases 

Yup, we are all guilty of it.  Sometimes it is easier said than done.  Be sure to have some room in your budget for treats – large or small so you can occasionally splurge!

5. Make A List – Stick To It How many times have you gone to the store and your list is home?  The end result, you buy more than what you need and usually forget what you originally went to the store for.  I have started putting my grocer list on my phone.  When was the last time you left home without your phone?  Whether shopping for Christmas, clothing or groceries – always stick to the list!

6. Set Budgets for Events 

Everyone’s salary is different so why not set a budget for Birthdays so you don’t feel pressured to match what everyone else is spending.

7. Emergency Fund 

This goes back to #2 when we set up a savings account.  What happens why you have a surprise expense – car repair, etc?  Tempted to pull out the credit card. DON’T!!!  Use your savings account or emergency account.  By saving a little each money, you are ready for those unexpected events.

8. Don’t Be Drawn In By Offers 

Sales.  How often are you drawn in by the offers non things you may not really need.  If you need it, great.  If you don’t, why buy it.  I mean do you really need the  half price Ben & Jerry’s ice cream?

9. Make a Packed Lunch 

Taking lunch to work is so much cheaper than a daily visit to the local sandwich shop.  Think of the money and time you will save.  Have an hour for lunch?  Imagine being able to enjoy a full hour of leisurely eating your lunch and catching up with friends instead of waiting to order food and then gulping it down.  Bringing your lunch to work is better all around as well as far healthier for you.

10. Cut the Coffee 

Yes, I went there.  When I was commuting to work, I would do a WAWA stop on the way to and from work.  That came to at least $5 or more a day or $25 per week or over $1,300 per year.  I’m now hooked on Starbucks unsweet green tea and thankfully, I don’t commute or it would be about $1,000 a year on ice tea.  What could you use a $1000 on?

 11. Use Your Legs 

If you live in the city or your commute is to an area where there is good public transportation, this is a great way to save money.  Growing up in NJ, there really is not a very good public transportation system unless you are headed to NY to work. In addition to saving money, you can also burn some extra calories by walking to and from the stops.

12. Seek Out Deals 

Yes, I have gotten lazy when it comes to looking for the best deals.  Whether it is car insurance, phone service or our cable bill – I haven’t shopped around for the best deal in ages.  When I did call Comcast to re-negotiate our bill, I was able to save about $50 per month which is $600 to apply to paying down credit card debt.

13. Sell And Buy Online

I used to do this all of the time – selling on eBay was a regular thing.  It has gone by the wayside but it may be time to revive this old habit.  When it comes to shopping online, I am always looking for the best deal using apps like Ebates and others.

What is YOUR best tips for getting your finances under control?  Share them with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

What is YOUR Brand?

A few weeks ago I walked into a vendor event to hear “are you the angel lady that sells Thirty One?”.  It took me a minute but then I said “yes”.  I was totally surprised by the question but grateful the two things were linked together.

Obviously you know I am a Thirty One consultant BUT I also love to make and share my angels.

I have found the perfect way to combine my two loves to make a difference in the lives of others.  My traveling angel pins allow individuals to buy an angel and send one to a person who needs some encouragement.  Know someone who is struggling?  Let me know and I will send them a pin.

Where is all of this leading?  I have (accidentally) branded myself as “the Thirty One angel lady”.  Is it a bad thing? No! But I am grateful to have created my own niche of making a difference.

1. Realize branding does apply to you.

No matter what you do, branding can take your career or business to the next level.  Your brand reflects your reputation — what you’re known for (or would like to be known for). What was once called a reputation is now called a brand.  Don’t we all want to be know for something?

2. State who and what you are (not what you’re not).

Remember positive brings positive into your Universe.  Your branding should be consistent from beginning to the end.  Showcase your accomplishments and expertise but don’t overinflate to the point you can’t follow through.  Authenticity is the key.  I am all about giving back.  Hubby says my tagline should be “I will never be Rockefeller (rich with money)” because I am all about giving to others.

3. Honestly, ask yourself what is your value.

When was the last time you wrote down your core strengths. Prepare a list. Ask yourself what your top 5 accomplishments have been in the past 5, 10, 15 years. Which ones stand out as the most value to your business or your company?

Branding is all about impressing others not ourselves, right?  So, why not ask others what they see as your most positive attributes (family, friends, or colleagues). I know this can be scary BUT you may be surprised to find out how others perceive you. You may actually be surprised to see what things come to the forefront as your areas of expertise.

4. Understand developing a brand takes time.

This is HUGE!  I have been with Thirty One for 6 years.  I have done many things to try and “brand myself” but with the help of Desiree Wolfe, I found my niche.  

What does it mean? Every day, I share things which bring my brand (Thirty One and angels) into the spotlight.  I want to make a difference and I try to do it every day in some small way with everyone I meet.  Remember developing a brand is about adding value which results in you being seen and heard. It’s about distinguishing you from your competitors.

5. Create a blog and write what you know.

I hear the groans of those who say “I can’t write”.  How often are you asked the same question by almost all of your customers?  Maybe it is about a situation or a product or a service.  Guess what?  You answer the question a million times, why not write about it and share the answer.  It’s simple – choose a hot question in your field and just start writing by answering it in an article or blog post.  You have now proven you know what you’re talking about.

6. Interact more than less.

I’m still getting the hang of this.  I don’t want to be spammy or pushy or salesy. I do want to gain attention to me (as the brand) then my products and services which leads to more sales.  I may blog daily but I don’t consistently post comments on Facebook groups or on other blog posts.  You need to decide what works with your schedule and time ability.

Your online identity is a priority in today’s busy digital world. I heard “your online branding as a #digitaltattoo which is so true.  Once it is out there – it stays out there. Wonder where you stand right now?  Google yourself, your brand, or your product/service.  See what comes up.  The biggest compliment I have received is when someone I know as an acquanitence tells me they Googled a subject and I came up.

My angels help me stand out with my Thirty One customers.  The angels help them to remember me!  What is your brand?  Share it with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day by definition is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

Today, I am blessed, to be a daughter, a step-daughter and a MOM!

To my mom, the road has been rocky with more than our share of twist and turns. Despite the struggles, you have stuck by me through thick and thin, good times and bad with LOTS of great memories along the way. As a child, you were there to guide and support me.

Our house was always the place where all of your friends wanted to go while I was secretly hoping to go somewhere else. Just because it was MY house and MY parents. I wasn’t a bad kid, I just wanted to be somewhere other than in my parent’s range of vision. Doesn’t every teenager?  My mom lead the charge when my parents cooked breakfast for 300 plus after the Junior Prom.  Our house was open to friends all the time with a stocked frig. At my graduation party, anyone who drank got to crash on the floor of the rec room – no questions asked.

During my years of my addiction, I was not the ideal daughter but despite my craziness, mom stuck by me. She supported me emotionally and financially (when needed) for many years. She believed “that’s what parent’s are for” so she very seldom said no.

When she found out she was going to be a grandmother, it was hard for her because I was a single mom BUT once she saw her granddaughter’s smiling face – her heart melted. She has weathered the storms and the challenges which have come our way. She has taught me about strength. She has taught me about kindness. She has taught me how to be a good mom. She has taught me about cherishing my family. Mom, thank you for all of the lessons. I may not have always appreciated them at the time, but I am grateful for them now as an older, wiser and more mature woman. I am who I am today because you allowed me to grow and struggle through the bumps in the road. I am who I am today because you loved me when I didn’t love myself. Thank you…..Happy Mother’s Day to the BEST MOM in the world. I love you!

To my daughter, Belinda who makes MY Mother’s Day so special. They say you never know what it means to be a mom until you have a child – I agree 100%. I now understand why my mom put up with everything (the good, the bad & the ugly) all of those years. My daughter is my heart.  It was “you and me, kid” for most of her life and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  Being a single mom had its struggles but with the love and support of family and friends we made it.  As a child, you were a challenge – having your own opinion and questioning everything but you helped me to grow as a person too. You have grown into an AMAZING woman that I am proud to say is “my daughter”.

To those who have lost their moms, cherish the memories. To those who have a strained relationship with them, reach out, re-connect – bless and move on – for you don’t want to live with regrets when they are gone.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms and those who have been like a mom to so many.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.

Guest Blogger: Shades of Amber

Today’s blog is courtesy of a fellow blogger, direct seller, accountability partner and friend – Amber Nowlin.Why I Love Direct Sales..as a customer!

It wasn’t right away, mind you. In fact, my first experience with the direct sales industry was not great at all. In college I got sold on joining a scrapbooking company. I was new to the hobby and I liked the convenience of the products. I definitely never made any money off that venture, and I’m pretty sure some of what I bought is still in my papercrafting stash more than a decade later. That company ended up going under within a few years. My next experience, about six years ago, was a considerable improvement, with a reputable health and wellness company. My sponsor was supportive and the products really did help me form some healthier habits. I still take their vitamins because the quality is that good. I even made a little money at it from time to time, but getting the compensation plan to work for me consistently was really difficult. As much as I was benefiting from using the products myself, no one in my circles was seriously interested in joining the business or consistently using the same products. While the health and wellness sector of direct sales ended up not being my dream fit of a company, it was during my first three years with that company that I really learned about the industry as a whole…and why it is AWESOME. Even as my personal business venture was failing, I was meeting highly successful sales reps who did this full time – and having a series of amazing customer experiences with several well known direct sales companies and their representatives! I fell in love with the customer experience, and I knew I wanted to also provide that experience for others.

I’m not the first person to blog about why you should consider purchasing direct sales products from your family and friends, but here’s my list of why buying from my friends and family ROCKS!

1. Convenience.
I shop online and what I want is delivered straight to my house. For consumable products, I can generally get a monthly subscription or auto-order with reduced or free shipping. I can log into any of my preferred customer accounts and alter those orders easily.

2. Quality
With most of my direct sales purchases, I have never had a bad product delivered. In fact, I can only think of one time when I had a defective product from any company I order from in over six years. Nutritional supplements, skin care, protein/meal replacement shakes, makeup, clothes, exercise programs, nail care, jewelry, books…I’ve tried a little bit of everything as a customer, and the quality in this industry is generally worth any extra I might be paying for. If the quality of the product doesn’t justify any extra cost, then the quality of another aspect certainly makes up for it…

3. Customer Service
When you purchase from most small businesses, there is a tangible benefit of a higher quality customer service experience. Small business owners, including your friends and family in direct sales, have a seriously vested interest in your customer satisfaction! Within reason and within their company policies, most reps will do whatever they can to ensure your customer satisfaction. When I had a defective product a few months ago, a rep of that company took immediate steps to get it replaced for me in a way that was fast, convenient, and free to me. I can’t get that level of service – from across the country, no less! – from a retail store or even most retail websites. Direct Sales reps will throw you parties, assist you with perfecting use of their products, keep you updated on the latest product releases tailored to your interests based on knowledge from your relationship and prior purchases, handle returns and exchanges…all of it. This is probably my favorite reason for being a loyal direct sales customer.

4. Your purchase really does help the financial success of someone you have met.
This is true of all small business purchases, not only direct sales. It may be somewhat cliche to bring it up, but all those smaller purchases you make? The commissions on those purchases help a rep’s family pay their bills or add some little luxuries to their family budget that would otherwise be out of reach. In the case of representatives who manage large teams full time, helping you with your purchases and helping their team to do the same for their customers is their full time job, and it is awesome that they are earning a full time income for it! Wouldn’t you rather your purchases directly benefit a family you have met, knowing they are fairly compensated for their work, than a bunch of strangers in a corporation who might not be fairly compensated for their efforts? I feel good about where my spending dollars are going when I purchase through direct sales!

As for my reasons for loving the direct sales life as a representative of a company, that is a different list!

Be sure to check out her blog at Shades of Amber.  She is also a Jamberry Consultant and her website is: Shades of Amber

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

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