4 Money Tips You Can Take to the Bank

Did you make a New Year's resolution to become more financially responsible in 2017?  If so, we'd like to help you achieve that goal by sharing our best money tips:

  1. Create a Budget.  Creating a budget may seem like an arduous task, but it really is to your benefit.  By establishing spending categories and tracking where your money goes, you'll be able to balance income and expenses, while making it easier to save for long-term goals.  If you find the thought of creating a budget intimidating, download a budgeting app like Mint or Wally to make the process a relatively painless one.

  2. Know Your Value.  If it's been a long time since you've compared your salary to your peers, get to it!  Look online to find out how much people in similar roles with comparable years of experience are earning.  You may discover that you're being vastly underpaid and that the new year is an ideal time for exploring your career options.

  3. Develop an Emergency Fund.  Nearly one-third of Americans have no money saved up to use in case of an emergency.  Unfortunately, those same people put themselves at risk if they have unexpected expenses like medical bills or car repairs.  If you aren't living paycheck to paycheck and have the ability to put money aside, do so.  Experts recommend that at a minimum, you keep enough money in an emergency fund to cover 6 months of expenses.

  4. Go Easy with the Credit Cards.  If you have credit cards, use them responsibly by aiming to spend no more than 25% of your credit line.  And when the bill comes, pay your credit cards in full on time.  By doing so, you'll avoid paying the high interest rates and late fees that create financial difficulties for so many people.   

10 Tips to Negotiate like a Boss

Does the thought of buying a car make you squeamish?  Do you think you would be earning more if only you had done a better job negotiating your salary?  If so, you need to read this summary of negotiation tips offered by negotiation guru, Ed Brodow:

  1. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for What You Want – Speak up!  Be assertive but not aggressive.  Assertiveness means standing up for what you want while still respecting the other party's interests.

  2. Listen – While it's important to speak up for what you want, the best negotiators know there's a lot of value in just asking open-ended questions and listening to the answers.

  3. Do Your Homework – The best negotiators are well-prepared.  They know before they sit down to a meeting what the other side's needs are and how much flexibility they have to negotiate.

  4. Always Be Willing to Walk Away – Brodow says if he could only give one piece of advice, it would be this.  If you're desperate to make a deal work, the other side will sense your weakness and use it to their advantage.

  5. Don't Be in a Hurry – Your patience is to your benefit; the other side may be in a hurry to conclude things and concede issues that they wouldn't ordinarily.

  6. Expect the Best – Approach every negotiation with optimism.  Our expectations tend to become self-fulfilling prophesies.

  7. Focus on the Other Side's Pressure, Not Yours – Instead of ruminating over why you need to make this deal, turn your attention to why the other negotiator needs the deal.  This will help you negotiate from a position of strength.

  8. Show the Other Side How Their Needs Will Be Met – Try to understand the negotiator and how their desires will be met. Brodow writes, “If you help the other side to feel satisfied, they will be more inclined to help you satisfy your needs.”

  9. Don't Give Anything Away without Getting Something in Return – Make the other individual earn concessions.  Don't just offer a concession up without expecting reciprocation.

  10. Don't Take Anything Personally – Don't allow yourself to become upset if the other person is rude or aggressive.  Instead, focus your attention on the issue at hand.  To do otherwise is to risk sabotaging the negotiation.

5 Tips to Become More Interesting

Everybody wants to seem interesting, but how exactly does someone become more interesting?  Look no further!  We've got 5 tips to help you become much more intriguing to those around you:

  1. Try New Things.  If the wildest thing you've done recently is reach for the remote, it's time to shake things up.  Quite simply, interesting people tend to do interesting things.  They explore their passions, try new activities, visit places off the beaten track, and tackle things in unusual ways.

  2. Act Confidently.  While you don't want to behave egotistically, you do want to display confidence.  Not only do people find confidence very appealing, but life is more enjoyable when you walk around with a “can do” attitude, rather than a “why try?” one.

  3. Don't be Afraid to Fail.  Trying new things means that sometimes, there will be missteps.  You may find that aerial yoga is not your forte or that your attempts at calligraphy are more akin to chicken scratch.  However, don't be afraid to try because your efforts aren't always going to be rewarded with success—even your failed explorations will make you a more interesting person to be around.

  4. Go Against the Status Quo.  Again, we're suggesting that you be brave here.  Feel free to offer up opinions that go against the grain—no, not everybody will agree with you, but your out-of-the-box thinking is something others will find very intriguing.

  5. Ask Questions.  The most interesting people don't only talk about themselves.  They also ask open-ended questions and listen to the responses.  Rather than heralding people with your latest successes ad nauseum, be open to listening (and learning!) from others.  People will appreciate your interest, and you may just learn something you find interesting.

4 Tips to Become More Organized

If you resolved to improve your organization skills in the new year, we can help!  Check out our 4 top organization tips to help you become more efficient in 2017:

  1. Create To-Do Lists.  A to-do list can help even the most disorganized person get their life under control.  Each morning, write down those things you need to accomplish during the day.  Then, tackle the 3 things you least want to do before doing any of the others.  This behavior will prevent procrastination, a common pitfall for those who are chronically disorganized.

  2. Create Monthly Objectives.  At least once a month, think about the 4 main categories of your life—career, relationships, home, and health.  Take time to evaluate where you are in each of those categories and where you'd like to be.  Use this monthly planning session to determine which goals are most important for you to accomplish in the upcoming month.

  3. Plan the Time.  After writing down your monthly objectives, grab a calendar and pencil in the time you plan to tackle them.  Make this time non-negotiable.  If you're worried you won't remember to do them when the time comes, set up a reminder on your phone so you can honor your commitment.

  4. Clear the Clutter.  When you live or work in a cluttered environment, your life can feel chaotic.  Start clearing your clutter by organizing items into donation and garbage piles.  If this step seems overwhelming, check out Marie Kondo's bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.  While some people find her methods extreme (she advocates disposing of those items that don't bring you joy), many people find that her book offers just the kind of motivation they need to begin tackling their accumulated clutter. 

5 Interesting Facts about Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and social activist.  He led the civil rights movement in the United States from the mid-50s until his assassination in 1968.  In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we've compiled some interesting facts about this inspirational leader:

  1. King Was an Exceptionally Gifted Student.  He skipped 2 grades in high school—9th and 12th—before enrolling at Morehouse College at the age of 15.  Although he came from a long line of Baptist ministers, he didn't intend to follow in their footsteps.  Morehouse president and noted theologian, Benjamin E. Mays, convinced him otherwise.

  2. King Was Jailed 29 Times.  Not only was he arrested for acts of civil disobedience, but he was also arrested for trumped-up charges.  For example, he was jailed in Alabama in 1956 for going 5 miles over the speed limit in a 25mph zone.

  3. King Experienced a Great Deal of Stress.  After King was assassinated while standing on the balcony of a memphis hotel, an autopsy was performed.  Although King was only 39, the autopsy revealed that his heart looked more like that of a 60-year-old, likely due to stress.

  4. Parts of King's Most Famous Speech, “I Have a Dream,” Were Improvised.  About 12 hours before the speech was delivered, there was no reference to the dream.  King added it live after singer Mahalia Jackson encouraged him to speak about it.

  5. King's Final Speech Acknowledged a Possible Early Death.  In King's final sermon, “I've Been to the Mountaintop,” he said, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life.  Longevity has its place.  I'm not concerned about that now, I've seen the promised land.  I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”