Category Archives: Blog

Dollar Store: Deal or No Deal?

Everyone loves to get something at a discount. I mean, who doesn’t seriously L-O-V-E a good deal? However, one thing we all need to learn is how to discern if a deal really is the good bargain it seems to be.… A good deal has to actually be a good deal.

If you like to shop at a dollar store you might be making the mistake of assuming any item for a dollar is a good deal but that might not be true.

Here are a few tips to review before your next trip to the dollar store to make sure you are getting the real deals that are offered.

Make a List.

How many times have you run into a dollar store to pick up a couple of items and $76 later, you come out, hands full, with stuff you never intended to buy. You need a list of items to buy so you can avoid mindless shopping and blowing your budget on items you just don’t need!

 

What items should be on your list:

  • Office supplies
  • Art/School project supplies
  • Books
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Home Décor
  • Party Décor
  • Small Door Prizes
  • Stocking Stuffers
  • Hostess gifts (bath & body lotion, wash, pretty scented items)
  • Beauty Products (shampoo, soap, hair accessories, hair spray, cotton swabs, and etc.)
  • Batteries (they seem to last just as long as more pricey brands

What should NOT be on your list:

  • Medicine, (from a financial perspective alone, 8 pills for $1 isn’t a good deal!)
  • Toys
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Paper products like paper plates, cups, toilet paper- quantity and quality issues make this a no deal.

 

Something else you should not have on your list is any item you have not priced out prior- for example, food.

A can of vegetables seems like a great buy- it’s just a $1, right? But had you shopped at your grocery store, you could have gotten them for .50 cents or less on sale. It turns out that isn’t such a great deal after all. Another great example of this is meat. Our local dollar store sells bologna, ham, turkey, etc. for $1. But it’s a 1/8 of a pound so I am paying $8 for a pound of meat! No. Again, any item that you have not calculated at a comparable price at another store should not be bought at the dollar store. Chances are you will be overpaying.

 

Something to remember; always check the quantity of any item you are buying. $1 for a product simply packaged smaller is not a good deal, even when it feels like it! Run the numbers before you shop!

Super Easy Ways to Manage Bill Time

Bills and Pills; Bills and Pills” to quote Disney’s Pollyanna. No one likes them! But they are just some of life’s necessary evils.

While I can’t give you a pain-free experience when paying your bills, I can help you make the actual mechanisms of paying bills a breeze and sometimes, that’s half the battle.

In this wonderful word of technology, we have great tools available to us but in most cases, they are categorically under used! Below, we’ll discuss some tools in the toolbox of bill paying that you can use to make the process easier.

We’ll also address their pros and cons so you can decide which are right for you. Having a system, no matter what you choose, is the most important thing you can do to make your life easier.

Tool #1- Auto Pay.

Pros

Set it once and forget it! Often the vendor itself will have an auto-pay option on their website.

You simply enter the amount you want to pay, your routing and bank information, and date of debit, and you’re set up.

Your bills will be automatically debited each month.

Cons

If you run into some cash flow issues, you have to be sure to go in and change or cancel the debit date within the allotted period they allow you to change it, OR you will overdraft your bank account.

If you have irregular pay dates, this may not be a good option for you.

Hints: You can set your payment within the grace period even if it is after the due date without needing to request a payment date change. It’s usually 10 days, but don’t assume!

Make sure you check that you’re not accruing late fees or bad pay history by over-staying your grace date. Also, if you need to, vendors typically allow one due date change per account history, so if you know the due date won’t work for you, change the date. But choose wisely- typically you get only one shot!

Tool #2- Online Bill Pay.

Pros

This system is typically offered through your bank, although some vendors offer the one-time pay option as well on their websites.

Done right, you can spend an hour or so once a month, and set up the dates that you want the vendors to debit your account for that month’s bills.

This is a great system for those with irregular pay dates because you have more control and insight into your budget and cash flow for that month!

Cons

You have to invest time monthly to set up these payments.

Tool #3 – Banking Apps.

Pros

This is basically the mobile version of #2, but many people don’t remember to use the apps for their bank. You can do all the things on your app that you can do on their website in most cases, but they are more user-friendly.

The mobile banking app is convenient because you can utilize it while on-the-go (think lengthy medical appointments waiting room times, and dead times at the soccer field, etc.) so if you’re a multi-tasker, this is a great tool!

Cons

If you lose your phone or it’s stolen, you run the security risk of someone having access to your banking info. These days though, our phones are an extension of our wallets and we all know to treat it as such!

Just be sure to include security measures as you would for any other information you don’t want shared with a thief. (password protection, lost phone locator apps, and etc.)

With a little planning each month, your bill paying nightmares can be a dream! Don’t delay! Get a system in place today.

 

What Does Being Frugal Mean

There’s been a lot of talk about being frugal and being thrifty. Ever since the US economy took a downturn it’s been a popular topic in media and around the web.

Living frugally has also become a necessity for many of us. Let’s talk about what it means to be frugal, dispel some myths and misinformation and look at what it means to live frugally.

Being Frugal Doesn’t Mean You’re Poor or Cheap

There are two common misconceptions about frugality. The first is that people who live frugally are poor. It’s actually the opposite. People who live frugally are smart with their money and use it wisely.

As a result they aren’t drowning in debt and their bills get paid on time. Yes, you can live frugally on a small income, but many frugal people earn a decent living. They chose to live well below their means and spend money on what’s important to them.

Being frugal also doesn’t mean you’re cheap. Not having the biggest house on the block or the fanciest car in the neighborhood doesn’t make you cheap, it makes you smart.

Yes, it can be a fine line between being frugal and being cheap, but there is an important difference.

Being cheap often involves hurting someone else, while being frugal means you decide to forgo something so you can spend your money elsewhere or save it for a rainy day.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re going to your favorite fast food place and grab a burger and some fries. A cheap person will grab a big handful of ketchup packets to use at home later.

A frugal person will save any leftover ketchup packets and use them later so they don’t go to waste. It’s a fine line, but there’s a difference.

Being Frugal Means You’re Smart About Spending

The main thing I want you to understand about being frugal is that it means you’re smart about how and where you spend your money. It’s a conscious decision and often requires a bit of planning. Instead of giving in to impulse buys (be it groceries you don’t really need or a new pair of pretty shoes), a frugal person decides she doesn’t need those items and saves the money instead.

As a result she can then turn around and enjoy a fun vacation or make a down payment on a home. Or it may mean she can stay at home with the kids. Being frugal means you have options and that’s a beautiful thing to have.

Tips for Garage Organization and Storage

Garages have a tendency to become a catch all for things that don’t have a home elsewhere. It quickly can become a cluttered mess ad a place that you can no longer use it for its intended purpose, keeping your vehicle.

Because you don’t often spend much time in your garage and it’s a place that you tend to come and go it’s not a wonder that it can become the catch all for so many things and quickly turn into a cluttered mess. It doesn’t have to be that way though.

It can be a great place for storage of the proper items while also still being a place that you can park your car overnight. Here are tips for garage organization and storage.

* Zones. The garage is a multi-purpose room of your home so to speak. Its primary function is to store your vehicle, but you also probably keep yard supplies or gardening tools in there, bicycles, outdoor toys for kids, and maybe this is even where the laundry is located in your home. So to really organize this area you need to divide things into zones, however, if you are looking for more storage space, it may be worth searching for the Best Shed for the Money.

* If you are storing your vehicle in the garage (as you most likely are) then you need to be aware of how much clearance you need to be able to give yourself so that your vehicle can safely fit inside your garage and you’ll still be able to close the door.

You’ll want to make sure that you mark off on the floor with some tape where the end of your car has to go so you don’t end up finding that you can’t fit your car in the garage when all is said and done.

* Use freestanding units where you can. Metal cabinets are a nice way to store things especially if you want it out of sight.

* Shelves hung on the wall or shelving units themselves to put large and small storage bins on are a good storage solution in your garage.

* Flooring space might not be at a premium in your garage, especially when you park your car in there. This is why you must make good use of the walls and ceiling of the garage for storage. If you’re keen on your garage flooring maintaining an attractive appearance, you could always consider an epoxy garage floor coating.

Adding hooks and pegboards to the ceiling and walls will provide useful additional storage for gardening tools, bikes, and multiple other items. This will keep everything in its place.

* Don’t forget about the corners. You can really use a lot of storage space in the garage if you remember that you can put things in the corners.

When you begin the project of organizing the garage space and storing items, make sure you recognize what space you actually have to use to store your items. You might have to get creative in what you do. It also will be good to do some decluttering before you start.

No sense in trying to store things that are broken or that you are never going to use. If you get an idea of exactly what you need to store in the garage before you start it will go a long way to helping you fully utilize all of the space you have in your garage.

If you’re looking to expand the storage capacity of your car, for the purposes of a road trip, for example, you could look at investing in one of these carriers.

Paying Off Your Debt- QUICK!

Debt is a serious problem. According to a recent Gallup survey (source: Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/168668/americans-rely-less-credit-cards-previous-years.aspx) the average American has 3.7 credit cards with a whopping 71% of us having at least one card.

Furthermore, according to a survey by Bankrate.com (Source: Bankrate http://www.bankrate.com/finance/consumer-index/many-americans-living-paycheck-to-paycheck.aspx) a shocking 32% of us say we live paycheck to paycheck, and that staying current or getting caught up on bills is our main financial concern. In uncertain economic times like these, we need a plan and we need it fast.

Here are a couple quick reasons why you pay your debt off as quickly as possible. Don’t like mine? Get a paper out right now and make your own. Write out your personal why.

Increase Your Credit Score

Reducing your balance-to-limit ratio on your credit cards can increase your credit score. Your credit utilization should be no more than 30% but the lower the better! Paying off your cards each month is ideal.

More Financial Security

Having no debt leads to greater financial security. Although you can get apps that loan you money, financial security comes from paying these off and not owing money to debt collectors. Monthly payments tie up a good portion of your expendable income. You could be spending the extra money on things you want instead of just things you need.

You could be saving for college, retirement, or a down payment for a house or car. You could begin building wealth by making smart investments. No amount is too small.

Now that you’ve got ample motivation to get started eliminating your debt how are you going to do it? Get out the paper you wrote you’re the reasons you want to get out of debt and now add the part about how you’re going to get that accomplished. Of course, certain types of debt are much worse than others. By having a look at a site like https://www.loanry.com/blog/types-of-bad-debt/, you can find out which types of debt are the worst to have.

It’s been proven that if you write down your financial plans and goals you are more likely to reach them. Let’s get started!

Review Your Budget

Find ANY area you can cut back. I would strip back that budget to what Finance Guru, Dave Ramsey, calls “beans and riceâ€. You get the idea?

Strip back your budget to the items you have to pay, and get the expendables to as little as you can. Cut out and turn off ALL non-essential-to-life items. These would be the “wants†like cable, manicures, dinners out, vacations, etc.

List Your Debts

All of them! It doesn’t matter if it’s a $3 library fee, or a $10 loan from Mom or even a $20,000 car loan write them down from lowest to highest.

Note: for the purpose of this exercise we are only dealing with consumer debt in this article- do not include your mortgage at this point.

Take all of the money that you have from stripping back your budget to essentials and start putting it towards your lowest (dollar amount) debt paying the minimum only on the rest.

Paying off your littlest debt first will give you a sense of immediate freedom. Once that debt is paid off take the increased money you now have and apply to your next biggest debt.

It’s called “Snowballing†and it works well. The snowball gets bigger as it rolls. In the same way, the more funds that become freed up, the more you will be able to add to the next debt and so on.

Make a Plan

Plan out (on a calendar) how long it will take you to pay off each debt. Build in little incentives in your budget for each debt paid off, (or if you have a lot of debt, or will take a long time, celebrate ¼ milestones, or ½ milestones on debts).

It will help you to see progress. Don’t go crazy though. Only use $10, or $50 (whatever is reasonable) of your snowball debt money to treat your family (maybe dinner, maybe more grocery money, a movie, etc.) when you have hit a goal. Your family will be sacrificing for a period of time so it’s good to reward them for short-term goals to keep the long goal in view.

Look for Extra Money

Find ways to add more money to help your snowball grow so you can pay off your debt sooner. Have a yard sale, get a paper route, or deliver pizza, or start an Etsy shop (don’t spend a lot of money on supplies, etc.) to sell your hobby, or start with a direct sales business for a season (one that doesn’t require a huge investment- do your homework!) or _________. Figure it out! You can do this!

With dedication, hard work, and sacrifice, you can get out of debt- quick! And then work a plan to stay that way.

Staying Organized at Tax Time, (Or Any Time)

If tax season brings you dread every year, it’s time to get that under control. There is no reason to be stressed, worried or dreading tax time each year. It’s not good for your mental health, or physical health, either, to be stressed out. Some people who find they can not handle tax season look something similar to a nonprofit bookkeeping service for help to get them back on track so they aren’t stressed about it.

The reason you probably feel this way is that you have not taken the time to be organized throughout the year. However, with just a little bit of preparation, and a simple system through the year, you can regain control of our emotions and make tax time a cinch.

There are basic components you will need for tax season- receipts of payments (think receipts and paid invoices) and records of payments (think bank and credit card statements). If you have a system for filing and obtaining these items, you’re 90% done with tax prep.

For receipts of payments, you need a file for invoices and receipts you pay throughout the year. This system can be whatever works best for you.

Paper Files

Some people prefer keeping a physical paper trail. For physical paid invoices and receipts, you need a physical filing system that works for you. Something like an accordion-style file folder would work just fine, or a filing cabinet with folders, if you tend to have larger volumes.

How you file your receipts and invoices is up to you. There is no wrong system as long as you keep them organized and you know where to find them when you need them. Standard filing practices include categories by month, vendor name, or expense category.

Paper Recording

If you also keep paper records (rather than a software bookkeeping system) you will want a way to track your expenses so you don’t have to spend hours at tax time adding up the totals. Whatever you use, at the end of each month, just be sure you total the expenses in each category and keep that total handy, and if you run a business you could look into outsourcing your bookkeeping to a service who could help you to keep an eye on your budget through budget variance analysis, which could make doing your taxes a little easier.

You could even staple the receipts for said category to the tally paper. You will only need the receipts for an audit, but you will need your totals so you can calculate your annual expenses at tax filing.

E- files

If you have a software system for bookkeeping, the application often has a mechanism for attaching receipts directly to the payment inside of the program. (i.e. .pdf or .jpeg images can be attached to the payment for easy reference) Alternately, you can set up a filing system in files on your PC, similarly to the paper files above. Receipts and paid invoices that have been received can be saved to the file.

E-Recording

The easiest form of any type of electronic bookkeeping system is accounting software, but for those who are on a budget, this may not be feasible. You can use a basic spreadsheet in Excel or similar program to track expenses. Again, you will need just the annual totals for your tax filings, but you may want to track these monthly for easy tax tracking.

For records of payments, you will need a file (as explained above- either e files or paper files will suffice) to store your bank and credit statements, (and ideally, you should attach your reconciliations to each statement) that you will also need at tax time.

Following these easy steps, you can breeze right through tax time, stress free.

5 Ways To Add Storage To Your Home

Keeping your home ready for guests can be challenging, to say the least. Depending on how cluttered or “lived-in” your home looks, you have probably played the “hide the junk game,” more times than you can count. You don’t have to play this game as often as you do or at least, not in the same way, you could get something similar to these prefab garages to help with your storage issues. For you die-hard “hide the junk” players, here are 5 ways to add storage to your home. And if they simply aren’t enough, then maybe you need to consider getting professional help – not the psychological kind, but the self-storage kind. You can learn more here, and begin your de-cluttering journey today!

1. Stair Storage:

This area is often overlooked. If you don’t already have a closet under the stairs, create one. Store tools for quick cleanup there. For more storage, use the actual stairs themselves. Turn each step into a drawer, either inside the closet, or outside. If the drawers are accessible from outside the closet, make sure they are always closed tightly. You may want to use a magnetic closure to ensure that the drawers close.

2. Top Shelf Storage:

Create ceiling shelves, high shelving, inside your closets to provide additional storage for things you want to keep out of sight or to hold seasonal items. Ceiling shelves added around the perimeter of the room provide you a wonderful storage or display area for your collectables, old books, and other items that you prefer people didn’t touch.

3. Furniture Storage:

Ottomans that open up are a great place for storing things like blankets, toys, or clutter. Coffee table storage areas are wonderful. Just add drawers and/or shelves underneath the tabletop. This is a nice place to store magazines and books. You can also use this storage area to quickly baby-proof or pet-proof a room. These multi-function storage spaces are great ideas for keeping things safe, neat, and organized.

4. Corner Storage:

Corners are often considered dead space, meaning that very little will fit in the area. However, they can provide excellent storage areas, with a little imagination. Because corners meet at a right angle, this means that any square table or shelving, preferably wooden, will fit nicely, at least on 2 sides.

If you don’t want a corner sticking out into the room, you may want to modify the square item. For example, you can cut a square tabletop in half (diagonally, making a triangle) to get a flat edge that can face outward or simply round off that corner. Keep in mind that if you cut the tabletop into a triangle, you may also need an additional table leg for support. You can get a lot of storage area out of one tiny little corner, especially if the storage area goes from floor to ceiling.

5. Bed Storage:

Mother always wanted me to clean under the bed. However, this is a great storage area. Loft and bunk beds almost instantly provide a great work and/or storage area. For standard beds, you can create a frame for drawers that will slip easily under the bed. If closet space is minimal, or the bedroom is small, adding drawers and/or shelves under the bed is a super way to add more storage space.

Are you tired of playing the “hide the junk” game when someone drops by unexpectedly? Maybe you should check out some storage sheds for sale so you don’t have to have a messy house? Give the things you hide regularly a new hidden home in the room where you use them the most. Use these 5 ways to add storage to your home as inspiration.

The Science of Motivation and How to Get More Of It

Need more motivation? I can relate! This article features the science of motivation, and how to get more of it!

This post may contain affiliate links that provides this blog with a small commission if you purchase through them, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!

The Science of Motivation

When it comes to success, there is one key component that may be more important than even such factors as talent, intelligence, money or connections. That elusive piece of the puzzle is motivation. After all, without motivation, nothing can be accomplished. You won’t reach your goals or meet your self-imposed deadlines without the motivation to take action toward them.

Unfortunately, that motivation is often what is lacking in the fulfillment of desires. We all have lists of things we hope to accomplish. These lists contain big goals, daily tasks and everything in between. Learning how to increase your motivation will boost the likelihood of checking more items off your list. Let’s take a look at the science of motivation and the ways to harness it to your advantage.

An Improved Approach to Motivation

Author Dan Pink writes in his best-selling book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, that the there are three components of motivation that compel individuals to get things done. His premise is that the traditional method of motivating ourselves and others using a carrots and sticks type of reward system is ineffective.

Instead, he argues that the scientific approach to understanding the makeup of motivation provides a far better lens from which to view the subject. By understanding the factors that tangibly affect motivation, we can then develop strategies to increase it.

Three Elements of Motivation

The three elements of motivation Pink discusses in his book are autonomy, value and competence. It is these components, according to researchers, that drive people to become motivated. Autonomy refers to the amount of control or independence one feels over a task or action. It has been shown that when you feel that you have a significant amount of input regarding that task, you are more likely to follow through to completion.

The second component of motivation, value, is the amount of personal significance or importance you place on a matter. In essence, if something matters to you on a personal level, you will feel more motivation to take it on than if you are simply given an assignment to which you feel no connection. Competence has been found to come from an individual’s feeling of mastery as it relates to practice and hard work, not necessarily to one’s natural abilities. If you spend time developing competence toward a particular goal, it is predicted that you will be more motivated to complete said goal.

Strategies to Increase Motivation

Now that you have an understanding of what matters most with regard to what motivates us, it’s time to consider some strategies to increase motivation. Using the concept of autonomy as a guide, let’s consider ways to add a sense of control or involvement into activities that need to be completed.

One way to do this is to take ownership of a chore or add some aspect of self-direction to it. If you are having difficulty starting a project such as submitting a paper for review, it may help to think of all the ways doing so will set you apart as an expert in your field. In doing so, you’ll see that turning in the paper is a necessary component to sharing your unique views with your colleagues.

To add value to your task, you want to make it meaningful or personal. Find a way to add purpose to that item on your to-do list. This involves changing your perspective or the way you look at that item. Completing your taxes is a dreaded chore for most of us, but you can add purpose to it by focusing on the work you’ve done that comprises the numbers on the page or the contribution you’ve made to your job and community through your efforts. Paying taxes is a symbol of good citizenry.

Finally, there’s competence. Feeling mastery over an act requires practice. Try to look at the job at hand as one in which you are working toward an end goal of skillfulness. For instance, you’ll soon see the treadmill as less of an adversary the more workout sessions you endure. So, along with the ultimate goal of getting fit, you’ll soon see each session become easier, leading to a feeling of accomplishment.

Motivation is not always easy to come by. However, with this knowledge of the science behind it, you can now pursue the steps required to achieve your dreams more effectively. Soon you’ll be mastering your goals, which will fuel your motivation toward future endeavors.

Best Ways to Improve Your Motivation Fast

Sometimes you need to get started on a project right away. Maybe you’ve been procrastinating for days, or even weeks, and now you’re down to the wire on an unforgiving deadline. The threat of not completing the job on time should be enough to motivate you to get moving, right? Wrong.

Often, even knowing the consequences that exist for not completing a task aren’t enough to push us forward. Fortunately, there are some tangible steps you can take in order to give yourself a boost when your usual routine isn’t working. Keep reading for some of the best ways to improve your motivation fast. Adding even a few of these to your bag of tricks may help you to overcome that slump when you need a motivational jumpstart.

Look Ahead

One way to convince your brain that an activity is worth starting is to look ahead to the end result. Think about the money you’ll make a from a freelance gig, the feeling of satisfaction you’ll get from handing in your portion of the monthly report to a nagging co-worker or the freedom to begin your two-week semester break when your last paper is submitted.

No matter what the project, visualizing the result of your efforts can improve your focus and motivation. Consider adding an actual visual such as a photo, magazine clipping or other image to motivate you.

Get Moving

If you’re feeling sleepy or even restless, you won’t be able to focus on that pressing task. A solution can be to move your body. Exercise has been shown to increase mental clarity and decrease stress, just the combination for working on a complex project with a looming deadline.

Taking a brisk walk or heading to the gym for a quick step aerobics class on your lunch hour can be just enough of a jolt to get you in prime thinking mode. Be careful not to overdo it or you’ll be too exhausted to do much of anything.

Take a Rest

It’s also possible that a quick rest can restore your clear thinking. If your brain is feeling cloudy or your thoughts are cloudy, a short nap might be a better course of action than exercise.

Put your head down on your desk or stretch out on the sofa in your office for 10 or 20 minutes. When you wake up from this power nap, you should be feeling rejuvenated and ready to work.

Listen to Music

Upbeat tunes might be a solution that leads you to start tapping your toes and feeling more alert. If you are able to work with background noise, you can keep the music going.

Perhaps changing to a mellower playlist or instrumental songs might be a better option for you than fast beats. If you require silence in order to concentrate, put on just a few of your favorites to shift your mood, and then get to work.

Start Small

A method that is often successful in tricking the mind to move on a task is to start with a small portion of the whole. Using the above example of the monthly report, you might wish to begin by gathering your data and other supplies necessary for completing the job.

This small action can put you in the right mindset to keep working on the rest. Getting started truly is half the battle.

These suggestions can, and should, be tailored to fit your personality, preferences and lifestyle. Experiment a bit. Use the ones that work for you, and throw out the rest. You’ll likely be surprised by the significant effect a simple action can have on your productivity.

Goal Setting for Motivational Success

There is a strong connection between setting goals and maintaining the motivation required to successfully attain them. In fact, in the 1960’s, behavioral research led to an understanding of the relation between these concepts, and theories were developed to shed insight on the concrete ways one influences the other.

Let’s take a look at the basis of these theories and then at some of the reasons to utilize goal setting for motivational success.

Theories of Goal Setting and Motivation

The first researcher to study the relationship between goal setting and motivation was Dr. Edwin Locke. He published his findings in 1968l. Locke’s Goal Setting Theory concluded that specific goals provided more motivation than vague ones.

Along these lines, goals that provided a challenge were shown to be better motivators than easier ones. In addition, Locke discovered that positive feedback was highly influential toward increasing motivation. Essentially, the very act of creating a goal leads to better performance.

Decades later, in 1990, Locke paired up with Dr. Gary Latham to develop the Goal Setting and Motivation Theory, whose main premise is that five fundamental principles influence effective goals setting and that goal achievement is more likely when higher numbers of these principles are in place. The five fundamental principles of the theory are:

  • Clarity
  • Challenge
  • Complexity
  • Commitment
  • Feedback

In essence, your goals should be clear and provide you with enough of a challenge to entice you to reach them. However, it’s important that these goals not be so complex as to cause frustration or overwhelm; this would be counterproductive.

Goals that inspire motivation also should include an aspect of formally committing to them and have a check-in method in place to determine satisfactory progression.

Provide Reference

By developing objectives through the framework of goal setting theories, you are providing yourself with a tangible reference point to keep you on track. Thus, your motivation is likely to endure. You are able to look at the points you’ve written down in order to remind yourself of your purpose and to validate that you are moving in the right direction.

Add Manageability

Proper structure of your goals can also make your overall plan seem more attainable. By assuring that your goals are challenging, you’ll keep your brain stimulated.

Breaking things down into short-term and long-term targets, along with similar strategies, can help you to avoid becoming overwhelmed by one big goal that is simply too complex to be achieved. Motivation is better sustained when you feel some agency over your goals.

Instill Accountability

By adding a check-in mechanism of some sort, you will be instilling a sense of accountability to your goals. It’s easy to toss a goal aside when you don’t really have to answer to anyone, or even yourself, with regard to progress.

Find an accountability partner to share accomplishments with or build assessment dates into your calendar in which you self-check your progress.

Increase Confidence

Challenging, yet realistic, goals that allow for the monitoring of progress can do a lot for your sense of mastery. Seeing your goal becoming closer to reality through hard work and skill is empowering.

Hearing praise from your network is also motivating toward fulfilling an objective. Confidence is increased through all of these things.

Improve Life Quality

Essentially, having well-developed goals can lead to a more fulfilling life. By taking the time to proactively define what you want and working toward that desire, you are living with purpose.

Those who know what they want and feel they are on track to achieve it are generally more motivated and satisfied individuals.

As you can see, there is a strong relationship between goals and motivation. In order to sustain motivation, you must not only set goals, but your goals need to have structure.

Following these guidelines can increase both your motivation and your chances of reaching your intentions.

Increase Your Motivation Even When Anxious or Depressed

Motivation is an elusive concept for many people. Despite having big dreams or desiring to accomplish a particular goal, taking the steps necessary to reach the end objective can seem impossible. Sometimes just completing the bare minimum feels like all you can do.

Forget the idea of accomplishing anything greater. This is especially true if you suffer from anxiety or depression. These mental health conditions zap the energy, happiness and sheer will from from your core. You may find yourself unable to accomplish even the basics of day to day living, let alone going above and beyond.

If you have been diagnosed with these issues, or feel that you may be dealing with them, the most important aspect of overcoming their toxic effects is to seek help. Therapy and medication have shown to be effective in treating anxiety and depression, but even these powerful components may not be enough to move you toward your goals.

However, there are some strategies you can take to increase your motivation even when anxious or depressed. Continue reading for some tangible ways to help you move past survival mode.

Do It for Someone Else

While personal goals generally need to come from within in order to be meaningful, anxiety and depression can make generating any kind of internal feeling beyond despair difficult. Intrinsic motivation, or the kind that comes from inside you, simply may not be something you can muster right now. One way to “trick” yourself into becoming motivated is to think of ways your goal may benefit others.

For example, if you’re having trouble just getting out of bed, it may help to think of those who depend on you for their care. Whether it’s a child or even a pet, the desire to complete the basic necessities for those you love may be enough motivation for now. This approach can be applied other aspects of your life also. While it shouldn’t be a long-term solution, it can sometimes be enough to get you moving and lead to fueling further motivation.

Outsource Dreaded Tasks

Deferring your most-dreaded tasks onto someone else may be especially effective for those dealing with anxiety. Many anxiety sufferers fear talking on the phone. If possible, request that a significant other or friend make important phone calls on your behalf. You don’t have to put yourself through unnecessary stress in every situation.

Some things can be outsourced in order to make everything else more manageable. If finances allow, you can pay professionals to bear certain loads for you. Otherwise, some creativity may be in order. The relief you’ll experience is worth the initial expenditure of energy required to generate creative outsourcing solutions.

Do the Fun Stuff First

Many life coaches or other experts will recommend that you tackle the tough or boring items on your list first in order to get them out of the way. The theory is that you’ll feel more accomplished, and finishing the rest of your project or goal will be easier. When you have depression or anxiety, this approach is unrealistic.

Depending on the severity of your condition, simply making any forward movement on a task is asking a lot of you. Therefore, turn the advice upside down and start with the easiest part first. Another way to look at things is to do the absolute bare minimum or smallest part first. Once you’ve summoned the motivation to just get started in some way, continuing on will be a more likely prospect.

Be Gentle With Yourself

If you were helping a friend in your situation, you’d likely have all the compassion in the world for them. You’d probably offer words of encouragement for the small achievements your pal made and be there to take up some slack when they’re feeling unable. In order to foster motivation, you absolutely must show yourself this same level of compassion. Reward or praise yourself for every small accomplishment.

This can be taking a break to watch your favorite show or purchasing a simple indulgence like a bottle of perfume. Even praising yourself for your efforts can be effective. Along that same vein, be sure not to chastise yourself for perceived faults. Instead, focus on what you were able to get done or remind yourself that you are currently facing some tough obstacles and you’re doing your best. Negative self-talk is self-sabotage and kills motivation.

Incorporating these steps into your daily routine can significantly increase your motivation, despite anxiety and depression. Your mental health issues are a challenge, but they don’t need to be the end of your dreams.

The Benefits of Meditation for Motivation

Waning motivation is a problem for many of us. The stress and strain of a busy life can overwhelm you, making even the most basic of tasks seem difficult. The downward spiral of low motivation can seem like an impossible cycle to break.

Once you lose your spark, productivity and accomplishment can seem like unattainable goals. There is one simple tool you may not have considered before that can get you back on track, and that’s meditation.

This exercise of the mind goes well beyond providing just relaxation. You can gain a host of good things through its practice. Continue reading to discover the benefits of meditation for motivation.

Strengthened Focus and Concentration

Focus and concentration are essential elements of motivation. If you can’t force your mind to center on the things you need to do, your motivation will also go out the window. Meditation is all about focus and concentration.

No matter which of its many forms you practice, chances are you will be engaging in focusing your mind in some way. Engaging in regular meditation will naturally strengthen your ability to concentrate and focus in your everyday life.

Increased Happiness

We all get down now and again. More and more individuals are being diagnosed with depression in modern times. Regardless of your mental starting point, it’s a known fact that happy people often have more energy and higher self-confidence.

Fortunately, motivation has been shown to increase happiness by stimulating the release of the brain’s “happiness hormones.” When you’re feeling more positive, you’re likely to have more internal desire to get things done.

Less Stress

Meditation leads to a more relaxed state due to the way in which it allows the brain to slow down as it receives sensory input. This relaxation and improved processing leads to reduced feelings of stress and overwhelm. With less stress comes a feeling of more control, which then fuels your motivation.

Positive Thinking

One of the biggest killers of motivation is negative thinking. A pessimistic view can come from many sources such as depression, poor habits or general life difficulties. The beauty of meditation is that it “rewires” brain patterns that naturally elicit more positive thought patterns, giving you the reset you need to be more motivated.

Clarified Goals and Purpose

Taking time each day for meditation gives you a great deal of person insight. This self-reflection can be the catalyst for reassessing what’s truly important in your life. When you have a better picture of your priorities, your goals and life’s purpose become clearer.

Knowing where you want to go kicks your motivation into high-gear, and you’ll feel a greater urgency to take the steps necessary on the path to your dreams.

The benefits of meditation for increased motivation are extensive. These are some of the main ways in which this daily mind practice can jumpstart the actions required for reaching your goals. There are many different types of meditation. You can begin to research on your own or find a skilled teacher who can help you develop a practice that works for you.

What’s most important is that you get started and maintain consistency in your meditation practice in order to see the most effective results. Soon you’ll be tackling your to-do list and pursuing the life goals that matter with renewed vigor.

It’s Time to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Grab a cold one and pull up a chair mmkay? We need to have a little chat. Or rather, I need to give you a quick pep talk. It’s time to stop comparing yourself to others.

Perhaps you don’t even realize you’re doing it. Or maybe you do, and it just adds to the misery you feel as you continue the compare game. It’s one game that as long as you play – you will always lose.

Bottom line – it sucks, and you should stop that! There is no one else like you, and that is AWESOME! Perhaps my favorite quote that helps reel me back in to prevent me from comparing myself to others is this one:

“The world needs that special gift that only you have.” – Marie Forleo

You are different from everyone else. Celebrate that. You offer a unique perspective in this game called life. We should all be thanking you. If you are constantly comparing yourself, it means you aren’t happy with who you are. Why is that?

People are brought up to conform to society. If you don’t fit within society’s norms, you are looked upon disapprovingly. However, most people aren’t normal in the truest sense of the word. Everyone has quirks and idiosyncrasies. It’s these differences that allow us to find solutions to problems. It also keeps us from getting bored. Imagine if everyone were truly the same. There would be nothing new to discover about one another.

There are some reasons to conform. For instance, you need to follow the rules and laws of your country and community. Otherwise, you will suffer consequences for not doing so. Also, you want to treat others with respect so that they will hopefully return that respect. However, if you try to act in ways in which others believe you should, you aren’t going to live your life to the fullest.

That’s why you should get out of the habit of comparing yourself to others. When you do this, you are likely setting unrealistic expectations and will lead you to be disappointed. Comparing yourself to others will result in you resenting those people. They have their reasons for being the way they are, and it has nothing to do with you.

There are qualities you admire in others. There is nothing wrong with trying to adopt some of those admirable qualities for yourself. However, it shouldn’t get to the point where you are trying to redefine who you are to be like those people you admire. You aren’t them, and you never will be.

You have but a short time on this planet. If you spend most of that time trying to be like someone else, you are in for a rough ride. If you stick to who you are and find others willing to accept you for that, you are going to be more satisfied for most of that time you live.

Others will be happier with the real you as well. You won’t be a pretender. People see right through that kind of behavior. Just think about others who are not true to themselves. How long does it take you to see through that disguise?

So from this day forward, be true to you. Go forward owning your gifts, and being authentically you. Stop comparing yourself to others because like Steve Maraboli says:

“You have a unique gift to offer this world. Be true to yourself, be kind to yourself, read and learn about everything that interest you and keep away from people who bring you down. When you treat yourself kindly and respect the uniqueness of those around you, you will be giving this world an amazing gift…YOU!”

Easy Oven Roasted Chicken

Looking for a quick and easy over roasted chicken recipe that is packed with flavor? You’ve come to the right place!

As I mentioned a couple of days ago on the blog, my husband and I are trying to save some money by committing to eat at home more than we ever have before. That is what is prompting the food recipes that you’ll likely start seeing here on my site.

One thing that is pretty inexpensive to cook is chicken. And, we have a wide variety of things that we use chicken with. Chicken and yellow rice, chicken fajitas, chicken salad… I could go on all day.

Today I want to share this recipe for easy oven roasted chicken. Once you have a base recipe, the possibilities of what you could do with it are endless. You could tweak the sauce a bajillion different ways to pair it with any number of side dishes, or just eat the stuff as is because it’s so packed with flavor, you might be tempted to…

Here’s how to make it:

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Easy Oven Roasted Chicken

What You Will Need:

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the chicken and the ingredients for the brine mixture first.
  2. Combine brine solution ingredients and mix thoroughly until all the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour over the washed up and cut chicken pieces, and let stand in the refrigerator for an hour up to overnight.
  3.  Once the chicken has spent some time in the brine solution and you are ready to roast it, gather the ingredients for the roast rub.
  4. Drain the chicken and place it in a big bowl or container. Pour the roast rub ingredients into this bowl or container.
  5. Massage the roast rub mix unto the chicken until all pieces are coated. Transfer to a roasting dish or pan, taking care to place the chicken pieces skin side down.
  6. Pour the extra roast rub mixture over the chicken and roast in a preheated oven at 400°F for 12-15 minutes.
  7.  Take out of the oven and flip the chicken pieces so that the skin side is now up. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
  8. Perfectly roasted! Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  9. Serve with mashed potatoes, rice, a salad, or just on its own! This dish is even better the following day. Just make sure to save the drippings for gravy or something to coat the chicken with if reheating. This recipe is good for 5-6 people.