Saving for a Rainy Day

How important is saving for a rainy day to your personal finance? “A penny saved, is a penny earned.” The famous phrase uttered by Benjamin Franklin over 300 years ago holds the same value today as it did then. Well maybe not literally since a penny was worth much more back in Franklin’s time, but in principle it holds the same value.

The point of Franklin’s phrase was putting aside some savings today will earn you greater value tomorrow. In theory, it’s great to state you will put your hard earned money aside today so you have a comfortable nest egg for tomorrow. 

The challenge for most everyday people is financial advisors and banks have us going from zero to 60 overnight.  Most advisors recommend to start saving 10% of your paycheck. It’s a lot easier said than done to start saving 10% of your salary for your nest egg right off the bat. When you do the math, and add up your monthly expenses, that becomes a very daunting and overwhelming task.

Building up to your Comfortable Savings Threshold

Start small when thinking about putting money aside. Review your monthly expenses and determine what you can put aside today for your tomorrow nest egg. If it is only feasible to put a certain dollar amount aside each paycheck, or only 1% or 2% of your paycheck, then start there.  After all, that’s 1% of your paycheck that you weren’t saving during your last pay period.

Get yourself comfortable with the idea of saving a percentage of your paycheck each pay period. Continue an ongoing review of your monthly expenses. You will begin to see other areas where you might be able to shave off a few dollars and set it aside for savings. As time moves on, you will see small incremental increases to what you are able to save each paycheck. Before long, you will be at that 10% savings threshold. Set up an automatic withdrawal plan to take money from your paycheck and apply directly to your savings. What you don’t see you won’t miss.

In your early stages of saving, set a goal for yourself that within twelve months you will be setting aside 10% of your salary or savings. Starting small and building up to that 10% threshold, you may find it much more attainable and less stressful to eventually get to your 10% savings.

Coping and Dealing with Stress and Stressful Situations

We all deal with stress. Whether it is job related, family related, or just being stressed out due to the traffic commuting to work today. Some deal with multiple stress points per day. The way we deal with stress can be very unique to each of us. 

Pinpoint the Stress Point

Whatever your method in dealing with stress, your number one goal in trying to alleviate stress should first be defining what is causing you stress. If there are a number of things currently causing you stress, pinpoint the number one item that is causing you the most stress and focus on that.

Once you have been able to pinpoint the stress point, define whether it is in your control or someone else’s control. For example, are you stressed because of a major project deadline at work? While the deadline may not be in your control, the steps leading up to the deadline, and how you accomplish the project, are within your control. 

Cope with the Stress

To cope with the stress of the project deadline, take control of the item and define the steps you need to take to get the project done. Creating a simple task list and breaking the project down into a series of smaller steps with personal due dates, instead of a larger, more overwhelming project, will help you see visualize what needs to be done to accomplish the task. This will also provide you a much clearer picture if you are on track or really behind.

If the stress is outside of your control, for example, if there have been recent job cuts at your company and you are concerned you and your department might be next.  While there may not be anything you can do about your job being cut (although there are tips and techniques you can follow to ensure if your job is cut you are prepared to hit the job market), there are relaxation and exercise tips you can follow to help you cope with a stress that is outside of your control. 

Stress Coping Activities

Yoga and taking a walk are two activities that can help you cope with your stress.  Of course for some, coping with stress may come through some more hard-core activities like karate or mountain biking. Whatever assists you in helping cope with the stress is probably the activity you should focus more of your attention.

When dealing with stress though, no matter what the stress point is, learn to pinpoint that stress:

  • Identify if it is within your control or not
  • Define measures on how to cope with the stress. 

While it would be ideal to live in a stress-free world, until that places exists, follow the steps above to assist you in coping with your stress.

Making Daily Exercise Part of Your Daily Routine

Daily exercise is needed for a happy, healthy life. We’ve been told this since we were young kids. Yet most adults today do not get any type of daily exercise. 

Every one of us have busy lives and busy schedules. Between work, household chores, and our children’s busy sports and after-school schedules, who has time to think about our own exercise program?

Exercise Plan and Routine

Exercising can be a daunting task for all of us. Too often, adults fail to get a daily exercise program started because they feel the need to jump right in and do a full-blown workout. This is a herculean effort that will end in failure. 

Instead, create a simple week-to-week plan detailing what you intend to accomplish and how you intend to add additional small exercises to your routine.  Start small and plan big.

For most, the thought of exercise seems like just another task or job to your already busy schedule. The first obstacle to overcome is making exercise part of your routine, not an extra thing you need to do each day. Typically, it takes two weeks to get your exercise promise to become part of your everyday routine. After two about weeks, you will find your daily exercise program an activity you long for each day, not a chore that you dread.

Start Small and Develop the Exercise Routine

The first thing you need to do is map out your exercise plan. Start small by taking a simple walk around the neighborhood. Depending on your schedule, take the walk either first thing in the morning or at the end of day. 

Taking a walk first thing in the morning usually provides a lift of energy as opposed to making you feel more tired. The energy of an early morning walk may also begin to get you off that second cup of coffee in the morning. 

If you are ending your day with a walk, and once it becomes a part of your daily routine, you will begin to feel more energetic at the end of the day. Getting that walk at the end of the day does a few things for you:

  • It gets you off the couch at night
  • You will also begin notice a better night’s sleep
  • Not to mention of course just generally feeling better about yourself.

Incrementally Add to the Plan

The first thing you need to concern yourself with is getting exercise into your routine. A daily walk around the neighborhood should only take you thirty minutes or so. Get that into your program then begin to add from there. 

When adding to your program, don’t go too crazy or you will potentially stunt your exercise program growth. You’re not ready to run a marathon yet. For week two, plan on walking around the neighborhood two times.

Now that daily exercise is part of your routine, continue to map out a week-by-week program, with small incremental increases in your program. Remember to successfully get daily exercise as part of your daily routine, think small, but plan big.

Contact us for more great health and exercise ideas.

Evolution or Revolution – The English Language Revolution

             Reading and understanding the literary work of the Middle English time period is akin to learning and studying an ancient language entirely.  The English language itself has taken different mold and shape over the past several hundred years.  Words and phrases during the Middle English period have enhanced over time.  Words such as durste, clepe, and I wot, translate respectively to dared, call, and I know today. (Murphy page v). Conversely, words ending –en have translated more easily to their modern day equivalents; words such as, bathen, departen, aboven. (Murphy page vi). Why has the language changed so, and why have some words and phrases changed much more so than others?  Several changes and events in world and British history have greatly influenced the transformation of the Middle English language of the 15th and 16th centuries, to the Modern variations of the English language today.  Events such as The Great Vowel Shift, technology and the Renaissance, and world exploration and colonization have provided major contributions to the language advancements.  (EnglishClub, History of English Language). But have the advancements in the English language from the Middle English time period to the Modern English variations of today been an evolution or a revolution.  While evolution has played its role, it’s the revolution that has been on since the 11th century, and continues today.

          The great works of literary mind Geoffrey Chaucer were written during the Middle English time period.  The Middle English language derived from the Normans invasion of Britain in 1066. (University of Texas at Arlington, Middle English History). The Normans brought with them a form of the Old French language, which would serve as the language of the British upper class following the invasion.  The language of Britain at the time of the invasion was Old English, which would continue to serve for the lower class.  However, by the 14th and 15th centuries, the English language would again become the full language of the region, but it had now inherited many words and phrases from the Old French.  Thus the Old English language, combined with words and phrases from the Old French, would form the basis of the Middle English time period.  But that time period would continue to see upheaval in the English language as evidenced in language changes in the 16th century with The Great Vowel Shift. (Wikipedia, The Great Vowel Shift).   The Great Vowel Shift produced a change in pronunciation with vowels being pronounced shorter and shorter.  What brought the sudden dialect change and the Great Vowel Shift?  Theory states The Black Death plague caused the migration of many to southeast England, and brought with it accents and dialects which modified the speech and language of the newly inhabitated region.  Another attribution the plague has received on its influence on the Great Vowel Shift is it did not discriminate against upper and lower class structure; it reached the upper class society as well as the lower class.  With upper class falling victim to the plague as well, it enabled a social transformation with lower levels of society reaching upper ends of society. (EnglishClub, The History of English Language).

          The transformation from Middle English to modern English continued through the technological advancements of the 15th and 16th centuries.  The invention of the printing press enabled more lower class people to read and write, as books were now more readily available, as well as more affordable.  This led to the Renaissance of learning; more and more people were reading and writing.  The advancements in the printer also stabilized the English language.  The first English dictionary was published in 1604 (EnglishClub, The History of English Language); technological advancements helped accelerate the standardization of the English language.  Britain’s growth in world exploration and world colonization stemmed the largest growth of the English language.  Britain grew into a world power in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.  The British Empire spread the English language across the globe, and brought words and phrases across the world back into the English language.  Coupled with world exploration and Britain’s ability to stabilize their language through the means of print, the English language began to move from Middle English to the more modern variations we know today.  Of course, there are a few variations of the English language in today’s world including American English. 

          The advancements of the English language have taken many variations through the centuries.  Old English and forms of Middle English are very unfamiliar to today’s world.  Translations or interpretations are generally required for the lay person to read works from that time period.  In today’s world and today’s English language, we are constantly seeing advancements in our language.  Words and phrases considered slang a generation or two ago have become part of the language and culture.  In addition, neologisms and newly created phrases and words that may not have been accepted in mainstream yet, but they are a part of our daily language. (Wikipedia, Neologism).   Words and phrases such as Google It, Soccer Mom, NASCAR Dad, and blog have become every bit the part of modern English, but have not necessarily become a part of the official English language.  And of course, just with the technological advancements of the printing press in the 16th century, the internet is currently playing a huge role in our language churn.  Social media has provided all people a worldwide stage to voice their opinions on an array of subjects, and with it the advent of new words, phrases, slang, and neologisms.  The revolution of the English language has seen many events in world history help shape into the language it is today.  While there is a natural evolution of the language that occurs generation to generation, the events such as The Great Vowel Shift, technology and the Renaissance, and Britain’s successes in world exploration influenced and revolutionized the language in a much more pronounced way in its movement toward modern English.  Today’s American English language continues to see natural evolution with dialects from different parts of the country, but technological advancements of today are revolutionizing the language in much more expedient manner than natural evolution; for both American English and British English.  The English language revolution has seen its changes over the past several hundred years, and while evolution will continue to influence its development, it’s the revolution that has moved the language to its present state and will continue to shape the language into its next time period.

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Works Cited

  1. EnglishClub.   EnglishClub is independent and unaffiliated to any language organization.  April 1-5.  http://www.englishclub.com/ .History of English Language page. <http://www.englishclub.com/english-language-history.htm>
  2. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation.  April 1-5.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page .

Great Vowel Shift page. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Vowel_Shift>

History of the English Language page.  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_English_language>

Renaissance.  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance>

Neologism.  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neologism>

3. Dictionary.com. Part of the IAC Corporation.  April 6. http://dictionary.reference.com/

Evolution.  <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/evolution?r=66>

Revolution.  <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/revolution?s=t>

4. University of Texas at Arlington.  University of Texas at Arlington public website.  April 2.  http://www.uta.edu/uta/ . Middle English History.  <http://www.uta.edu/english/tim/courses/4301w00/mehist.html>

5. Murphy, Michael. “The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.  A Reader-Friendly Edition of the General Prologue and Sixteen Tales Put into Modern Spelling.”  Brooklyn College. Brooklyn College.  April 3.  <http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/webcore/murphy/canterbury/1intro.pdf>

Keep your Resume Updated and Get Ahead of Your Career

Keeping your resume up to date is a pivotal step in the success of your career.  Much like going to the dentist or doctor, reviewing and updating your resume should be a regularly scheduled activity that you perform.

Let’s face it, job security these days is not exactly what it once was. This is not our parent’s work place. Today’s work force is threatened by more than just downsizing, but also threatened by local jobs being moved overseas. Many companies today offshore certain jobs that can be handled in foreign countries at a much lower rate. Customer service related jobs and IT related jobs can be outsourced to offshore markets literally overnight.

What can you do about the potential of your job being shipped offshore? Unfortunately, there is not much you can do as far as protecting your job from being outsourced. What you can do though, is take what is in your control and proactively keep it updated: your resume

Your resume should be a living, breathing document that you review on a regular, ongoing basis. Much like taking care of yourself with regularly scheduled doctors’ appointments, you should be regularly reviewing and updating your resume. 

For many, your resume is a piece of paper that has not been updated since you took your last job. Unfortunately for some, it may have been years, or even decades, since you last updated your resume. This puts you at an immediate disadvantage if you find yourself in a position where you need to look for new employment immediately.

Without an updated in resume in place, you can spend weeks just going back over previous jobs, job functions, roles, responsibilities, and accomplishments that you garnered over the years. All the while spinning your wheels in trying to get your resume updated, the job that fit you best may have been placed with another individual.

To nullify any wasted time in recreating your resume from scratch, take responsibility of your career today and make best-practice of getting your resume updated. Your resume is your own responsibility. In taking responsibility for your resume, follow the following guidelines:

Keep Daily and Weekly Notes and Logs

Generally speaking, even looking back at the quarter in review, you are liable to leave out an important accomplishment you provided your team, your department, or your company, that you may forget to add to your resume. To help ensure you don’t leave out any of those small wins, keep an ongoing log that you update at the end of each week. Your accomplishments log should only list accomplishments for that week. By keeping a weekly log of accomplishments, you will help yourself at quarter end when trying to update your resume.

Of course, you want to ensure you are keeping a log of accomplishments that are relevant to your resume. There is a fine line between keeping a thorough log of accomplishments for your resume vs. listing every single task of your job. Your resume should not be a task list, but a document that provides a prospective employer your job title, responsibilities, training or certifications, tool sets, and accomplishments (as well as education). Be aware when keeping your accomplishments log that you are not inundating yourself with every little detail. 

Review and Update Your Resume on a Quarterly Basis 

Get into the practice of reviewing and updating your resume at the end of each quarter: March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31. As noted above, there are always additional projects, functions, responsibilities, and accomplishments you have experienced within each quarter that deserves some review and recognition on your resume. 

Review your weekly accomplishments log and pull out the items that truly need to be publicized on your resume for prospective employers. Remember, you do not want to overload a prospective employer with every small task you accomplished.  You need to be cognizant of the fact that your resume should highlight your job title, job responsibilities, and accomplishments within your job.

By reviewing your accomplishments log, you have provided yourself a shorter window of time to look back and reflect upon. It can be very challenging reflecting back on what you accomplished from January 1 through March 31. Reviewing your accomplishments log provides you quick bursts of key wins you provided your team, your department, or your company that you can now update to your resume. 

In reviewing your accomplishments log each quarter, you have also put yourself in a much better state of mind in updating your resume. Your resume update now is simply a series of small updates. Even if there is only one accomplishment worth noting from this past quarter, you have proactively taken your resume into your control and put it in a better position than it was last quarter.

Continual Resume Edits from Previous Jobs

Now that you have got yourself in the habit of reviewing and updating your resume on a quarterly basis, you need to also be aware of the overall length of your resume; this needs to be factored into your quarterly review resume process too. You want to ensure that you are not adding additional pieces to your resume without removing other items from it.

Most human resource recruiters state a resume should be one to two pages in length. Anything more than two pages generally do not make it past the first round of reviews from the recruiter’s desk.

You need to be aware of the length of your resume when adding your most up-to-date accomplishments and job responsibilities. To do this, be sure when updating your resume with recent accomplishments, job functions, or job title, review the other jobs on your resume and slice-and-dice what is no longer needed or applicable.

The format of your resume should be your most recent jobs first and list backwards your previous employments. Prospective employers are most interested in what appears at the top of your resume which should be your current and most recent jobs. What appears at the bottom of your resume should provide your early professional experience.

When updating your most recent accomplishments, be sure to trim the fat from the bottom. Again, you need to be sure you are keeping your resume tailored to one to two pages. Anything more than two pages is typically being filed in the deleted folder of the recruiters email system.

Now that you are in the habit of quarterly reviews and updates of your resume, you have now proactively positioned yourself to be equipped if an unfortunate event occurs where you need to immediately look for new employment. The plus side of that equation is you will be able to hit the pavement that day in search of your next employer. You will not be left spinning your wheels for weeks on end trying to update your resume.

You have also made yourself much more marketable in the workplace. With an updated resume, and a weekly accomplishments list readily at your disposal, you have also placed yourself in an enviable position making the job market work for you. Searching for a new job is much easier when you have an impeccable resume that can be shipped to a recruiter’s desk at a moment’s notice.  

Get ahead of your career today.  Make your resume and your career work for you. Drop us a line to find out how we can help.