Entrepreneur CliffsNotes from a Penny-Pinching, Pajama-Clad, Self-Made Millionaire

Aim, Ready, Fire!

Entrepreneur CliffsNotes from a Penny-Pinching, Pajama-Clad, Self-Made Millionaire

Japanese Archery(photo by Okinawa Soba)

This is a lengthy post (2500+ words) as it contains nearly everything I know about how to be your own boss, in an abbreviated 3-phase format. If you’ve ever dreamed of making money doing something you love to do, I think you’ll find it well worth your time to read. First, a little about me and my entrepreneurial background to provide context for this filled-to-the-brim resource…

I’ve bootstrapped half a dozen small businesses including a couple of dog training schools, home and pet care services, a construction company and most recently, a coaching business. I started each business with less than $1,500 in capital investment. Because I hate alarm clocks, rigid working hours and panty hose, I choose to operate businesses that honor my personal preferences. I wake when I am rested, eager to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. More often than not, I work from home in my pajamas.

My entrepreneurial success didn’t require a diploma. Impatient with seemingly pointless prerequisites and eager to start making my own money, I dropped out of college. I now consider myself a lifelong learner and return to school whenever I want to learn a specific new skill.

“Most self-made millionaires possess average intelligence. What sets them apart is their openness to new knowledge and their willingness to learn whatever it takes to succeed.” (The Seven Pitfalls of Business Failure and How to Avoid Them by Patricia Schaefer)

Unfortunately, I was a drop out with no vision for my future. I began my adult working life as a graveyard shift donut and coffee waitress. Fortunately, I realized that I was too good to settle for minimum wage. I quit pushing donuts and took a job that would allow me to explore my interests. Because I’d always loved animals, I applied for a job with a veterinary hospital and during this same time, I also negotiated an unpaid apprenticeship with a professional dog trainer to learn marketable new skills.

Don’t tell me what to do! I am the boss of me. As an employee, I resisted standard operating procedures — particularly when I could see a more effective process for said procedures. Recognizing that I found it difficult to do business someone else’s way, I took what I learned as an employee and apprentice and moonlighted with my own business. Once my own business income matched my employment income, I quit my job. I’ve been self-employed since my early twenties.

How much is enough? Unlike the typical American, I have resisted the temptation to inflate my lifestyle to match my income. Rather than make more and spend more to keep up with the Joneses, I enjoy a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity. I value my time, hobbies, recreation and personal relationships more than I do money. Therefore, my moneymaking ambition has always been to make just a little more than enough. Because I pay myself first, I am 100% debt-free and have accumulated over a million dollars. I can afford the luxury of free time. Here’s a wonderful story, written by an unknown author, that aptly illustrates the concept of ‘enough’:

Story of The Mexican Fisherman

(photo by CaptPiper)

Mexican Fisherman StoryAn American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

The American then asked him why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish. The Mexican replied that he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich; you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what, senor?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Author Unknown

What drives YOU to want to be your own boss?

Aim…   (Step One: Zero In On The Right Business)


(photo by AjDele Photography)

What do you love to do? Do you make money doing this? If not, why not? What are your unique talents? What are your personal priorities and values? Your quirks? Your passion will be evident to your customers and will prove value. Put aside all judgement as you brainstorm ideas. Need inspiration? Try these exercises:

Is there a need for what you offer? Next time you can’t find what you are looking for, realize you just identified a business opportunity.

What is your risk tolerance? If your tolerance for risk is low, avoid reinventing the wheel. Pick a known moneymaker.

Example: While plumbing isn’t a romantic business, it has been in steady demand for as long as humans have enjoyed running water.

Is the money worth your time? Calculate how much you anticipate making and how many hours you’ll need to work to earn the revenue. Then calculate the dollar value of your time.

Ask many questions:

  • Talk to people in your chosen niche: vendors, sales reps, technicians, consumers, your future competition.
  • Ask for feedback from those who are supportive, optimistic and successful. Avoid naysayers.
  • Interview those who have been-there-done-that.

Try it before you buy into it:

  • Find a mentor.
  • Be a shadow.
  • Volunteer.
  • Work to learn, not to earn. Negotiate an apprenticeship.
  • Work for your future competition.

Would you be better off buying an existing business or starting from scratch?

  • An existing business with a successful history is more likely to succeed.
  • A start up is attractive due to a lower beginning investment.

Ready…  (Step Two: Set Yourself Up for Success)

Missed the target(photo by andreasnilsson1976)

Do your research:

  • Be an ethical mole and work for your future competition. Learn how to navigate the maze on someone else’s dollar.
  • Analyze your competition: supply, demand, prices, strengths, weaknesses. What can YOU offer that your competition doesn’t?
  • What are the demographics of your targeted customer? How will you reach them?
  • Clarify your business identity by carefully selecting your niche and business name. Be sticky! (ex: Jen Smith versus Millionaire Mommy Next Door)

Spin your web (create a support system):

  • Don’t try to wear all the hats. Reports on business failures cite poor management as the number one reason for failure. New business owners frequently lack business and management expertise in areas such as finance, purchasing, selling, production, and hiring and managing employees. Build your team of players and seek help from a bookkeeper, CPA, attorney, manager, sales and marketing specialist, etc. Weigh the advantages of hiring subcontractors versus employees.
  • Participate in networking, professional and business support groups.
  • Limit your exposure to toxic people. Don’t allow negativity to bring you down. Surround yourself with those who are happy and successful.
  • Be mindful of your own internal dialog. Eliminate the words ‘but’, ‘try’, and ‘can’t’ from your personal vocabulary.

Get your dollars in a row:

  • Starting a business is risky. As a rule of thumb, new businesses have a 50/50 chance of surviving for five years or more (source: Small Business Association). Don’t let statistics discourage you; just be properly prepared for success.
  • Plan for the best AND have an exit plan in place.
  • Start with sufficient capital and operating expenses. Establish an emergency savings account equal to at least one year of operating and living expenses.
  • Cover your ass(ets). Obtain appropriate insurance policies to protect you from catastrophic events: medical, disability, liability.
  • If money is tight, moonlight. Keep your day job and work your business between working hours. Cut back on your employed hours incrementally. Once your part-time business is earning enough money to replace your day job, quit.

Establish yourself as an authority in your niche:

  • Volunteer
  • Blog
  • Write a book
  • Teach
  • Speak

Eliminate the need for costly advertising expenses. I’ve never spent a dime on advertising. Referrals and word of mouth come free.

  • Seek symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships with existing, complementary businesses. For example, I offered on-location dog training classes for the clientele of participating veterinary hospitals.
  • Allow potential referral sources to experience the value you provide firsthand by offering them free or discounted services. Example: I offered free dog training classes to veterinarians, groomers, kennel owners and their staff.
  • Find relevant ways to help your community. Submit public service announcements to your local newspapers, radio and TV stations.

Fire!  (Step Three: Become the Boss of You)

Bullseye(photo by – POD –)

First impressions can be a matter of life and death for your new business. Now that you know what you want to do and what you need to do, it is time to launch!

Focus. Keep your commitments. Don’t branch out in too many directions.

Prevent burnout. Assuming you plan to be your own boss for the long haul, it is imperative to keep your work and personal lives balanced:

  • Take time off to play.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Hug your family.
  • Be there for your friends.
  • Eat your vegetables.
  • Express your gratitude. Psychologists say that establishing a habit of gratitude plays a significant role in a person’s sense of well-being:

“The study required several hundred people in three different groups to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day, while the second group recorded their unpleasant experiences. The last group made a daily list of things for which they were grateful.

The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Additionally, the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, was more likely to help others, exercised more regularly and made more progress toward personal goals. According to the findings, people who feel grateful are also more likely to feel loved. McCollough and Emmons also noted that gratitude encouraged a positive cycle of reciprocal kindness among people since one act of gratitude encourages another.”  (source)

  • Be happy! Happy people make more money. Newsweek reports:

“although money doesn’t buy happiness, happiness can buy money. Young people who describe themselves as happy typically earn higher incomes, years later, than those who said they were unhappy. It seems that a sense of well-being can make you more productive and more likely to show initiative and other traits that lead to a higher income.”

Measure and evaluate your progress. Regular evaluations using analytical measures are important for keeping on track and staying in alignment with your vision. Identify what works, what doesn’t and what you want to accomplish next:

  • Keep a journal.
  • Maintain an accurate bookkeeping system and chart your financial progress.
  • Track the ratio of repeat customers versus new ones.
  • Ask for feedback from your customers, employees and referral sources.

Stay connected. Nurture professional relationships with people who have the potential to help you with contacts, information, referrals and advice. In turn, be authentic and mindful of how you can add value to their lives. Your professional community is a rewarding place to practice good karma.

  • Send a periodic email that reads, “I’ve been thinking about you. We haven’t talked in a while — I’d love to meet up for coffee or tea sometime next week to catch up.”
  • Build ‘virtual’ relationships via e-mail, conference calls, online courses, blogs, forums, chat rooms, and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Consider expansion carefully. Remember your priorities and do the math. For example, my husband and I considered expanding our small construction business to include a staff of workers. Here are the two options we considered:

Option A = Continue to manage a small in-home business:

1 full-time tradesman (my husband; 35 hours per week)
1 part-time apprentice (20 hours per week)
1 part-time bookkeeper (me; 15 hours per week)
Total employees = 3 (1 full-time, 2 part-time)
Total labor hours per week = 70

Gross annual revenue = $250,000

Net profit = 50%
Low overhead expenses (work from home, one truck, one set of tools) means a higher percentage of revenue remains as profit.


Option B = Expand our business to include 5 tradesmen:

5 full-time tradesmen (5 x 40 hours = 200 hours per week)
5 part-time apprentices (5 x 20 hours = 100 hours per week)
2 full-time bookkeepers (5 x 15 hours = 75 hours per week)
1 full-time manager (40 hours per week)
Total employees = 13 (8 full-time, 5 part-time)
Total labor hours per week = 415

Gross annual revenue = $1,250,000

Net profit = 10%
Higher overhead expenses (leased storefront location, five trucks, five sets of tools, increased salaries and administration costs) means a lower percentage of revenue remains as profit.

Which business would you rather operate? At first glance, many would likely say, “I’ll take Option B and make one-and-a-quarter million dollars each year!”

Whoa now, let’s slow down and finish the math:

Option A = $250,000 gross annual revenue x 50% net profit = $125,000.

Option B = $1,250,000 gross annual revenue x 10% net profit = $125,000.

That’s right — both options provide $125,000 in annual net profit. Now that we’ve completed the math, which would you choose?

Option A comes with less expenditures of time, energy and capital.
Option A reduces risk.
Option A requires very little initial capital investment.
Option A allows us to work from home.
Option A puts the same amount of dollars in our pocket as Option B.

We chose Option A. Every business is different, of course, so run your own numbers.

Pay yourself first and invest for a lifetime of freedom:

  • Be a tightwad. Thomas Stanley, coauthor of the bestseller, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy, found that the prototypical millionaire told him, “I am my favorite charity.”
  • As your profits grow, be watchful of lifestyle inflation.
  • As a rule of thumb, put at least 15% of your net profits into a diversified retirement account.

Once you achieve financial independence, give back and help other get started:


Note: All told, this post took me more than 8 hours to put together (and over twenty years to learn!). If you found it useful, please share it with your friends, bookmark it, Stumble it, Tweet it, link to it from your blog, etc. For your convenience, there is a “Share This Post” link in the footer of this post. Thanks!

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Get Real About the Difference Between Needs and Wants: Enjoy the Life You Really Want to Live!

Sally wants Mark to work more so she can quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom for their two young children.  Mark wants Sally to continue working so they can pay down debt and build some savings. Despite earning a higher than average combined annual income, they often argue about money. Worse, they feel stuck, unable to do anything about their current financial situation.

Too Many Toys

This typical family lives in a four bedroom suburban home.  Kids’ toys multiply like horny rabbits, spilling into the gigantic playroom. Two newer cars and a pickup truck occupy the three-car garage. The RV attempts camouflage behind a tall privacy fence that surrounds the expansive green lawn.

The children’s toys gather dust all week long because the kids are away at daycare, 50 hours a week, while Sally and Mark work. The big toys gather dust, too — the RV rarely leaves the yard because once the weekend arrives, the family feels too wiped out to go anywhere. At least the big screen HDTV LCD surround sound system sees some love while everyone veges out…

Mom and Dad tell me their number one priority is spending quality time with their two young children. But the children spend the majority of their awake hours with daycare providers because Mom and Dad have to work overtime to pay for and maintain their grand accumulation of Stuff.

Clearly Sally and Mark’s financial obligations are out of whack with their personal priorities.

The truth is they haven’t discovered the difference between their needs and wants. Once they do, they will find it IS possible to enjoy the life they want to live, together, with their children.

How to find the difference between needs and wants:

1.   Imagine that you and your family are currently camped out in a homeless shelter, eating at the soup kitchen and receiving government assistance. Now imagine that you landed a job that earns just enough money to pay rent on a small apartment and to buy your own food.  Add bus fare for your work commute. Write down your bare bones monthly costs. Here’s an example based on data collected for an average family in the lowest income bracket:

Food = $254
Shelter = $627
Clothing = $71
Transportation (public) = $12

Total Bare Bones BASIC NEEDS = $964 a month

2.    Write down your actual expenses. Place these numbers next to the column you created in step number one above. Here’s an example using Sally and Mark’s actual expenses:

Food =  $1,027 actual
Shelter = $2,400 actual
Clothing =  $457 actual
Transportation (public) = $1,613 actual

Total ACTUAL EXPENSES = $5,497 a month

3.    Subtract your bare bones needs from your actual expenses. The results are your basic wants.

Food = 1,027 – 254 need = $773 want
Shelter = 2,400 – 627 = $1,773 want
Clothing = 457 – 71 = $386 want
Transportation (public) = 1,613 – 12 = $1,601 want

Total BASIC WANTS = $4,533 a month

4.    Similarly, separate the rest of your expenditures into needs and wants.  Be brutally honest with yourself. Sally and Mark’s looks like this:

Kids Toys = $200 actual minus $15 need = $185 want
Gym Membership = $125 actual minus $0 need = $125 want
Tobacco/Alcohol = $123 actual minus $0 need = $123 want
RV = $250 actual minus $0 need = $250 want
Cable TV = $70 actual minus $0 need = $70 want
Day Care = $1,400 actual minus $0 need = $1,400 want

Total EXTRA WANTS = $2,153 a month

Results: If Sally and Mark reduce their material wants, they could save up to $6,686 a month — $80,232 annually — easily enough to afford one parent the option to quit their job, pull the kids out of daycare and raise them themselves. If their top priority is to spend more time with their children, clearly they can afford to do so.

I’m not advocating that you should get rid of all your wants, nor am I saying that every parent should quit their job to raise their children. That’s not what this post is about. I simply find it important to uncover the role needs and wants play in our financial life. My intention is that you realize your life is full of choices. Once you decide what is truly important to you and make a conscious choice, reaching your goal is simply a matter of putting your money where your mouth is.

BONUS! I’ve created a very unique tool that calculates the difference between your needs and wants. It also uses dollars, the value of your time, AND your personal values and priorities as currency! This is the spreadsheet I use to create my own spending plan (aka budget). You can click here to download the Excel (.xls) file I created directly to your computer for immediate use. This spreadsheet works on my Mac in Numbers, too. You are welcome to share this spending plan tool with your friends or post it to your own blog.

I have a favor to ask: This post and the spreadsheet I designed took me considerable time to put together. If you like them, please share this post and/or spreadsheet with your friends, Digg, Twitter, Stumble Upon, Facebook, and other social media applications. Thanks!

Relevant Posts:

How To Revolutionize Your Spending Habits

How To Increase Your Financial Bliss

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photo credit: by Robert S. Donovan

How to Make a Million Dollars While Eating Lunch

In response to my last post, Would You Ditch A Car For $1,000,000?, a reader made the comment: “As a grad student in an urban area, I don’t have a car (nor could I afford one) and I use public transit. … I wish there was a “big ticket” item like that that I could easily cut out of my life, but there just isn’t. Instead I try to cut back on small things and aggressively invest for cashflow.”

While savings do accumulate faster when you cut back on the biggest budget-buster categories (housing, transportation, insurance and taxes), the little things do add up. Take for instance:

My Million Dollar Lunch Recipe

  1. Replace your $9.50 restaurant lunches (sandwich, fries, soft drink, sales tax, tip and mileage) with a nutritious $3.00 lunch brought from home.
  2. Deposit your $143 monthly savings ($6.50 daily, 22 working days a month) into a Roth IRA retirement account.
  3. Invest in equities (stocks, mutual funds) at a 10%* annual long-term average rate of return.
  4. Let your account simmer for 41 years.

Recipe Yield = $1,000,837

Serve: During retirement with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

Total deposits = $70,356
Total interest earned = $930,481
Total taxes paid = $0
Total Saved= $1,000,837

Optional Garnishes:

  • Combine with a 20 minute walk to the park for lunch.

    Yield: 1,277,232 calories— enough to keep off (or lose) 365 pounds! (Calculated for a person weighing 140 pounds walking 4mph for 20 minutes (1.33 miles) 5 days a week for 41 years.)

  • Pack a lunch for your spouse.

    Yield: An additional $1,000,837

  • Add a group of supportive friends for lunch to work on the Baby Steps to Financial Freedom together. Yield: Financial freedom – with friends who will have the resources to enjoy it with you!

Isn’t it amazing how much money you can amass by investing small amounts over long periods of time?

Once you think in terms of investing instead of spending, look for ways to duplicate this process in other ways. Consider the following actions:

  • buy staples in bulk and invest your savings

  • invest your employee bonuses

  • invest unexpected financial gifts and inheritances

  • invest your tax refunds

  • buy a term life insurance policy instead of a whole life one and invest your monthly premium savings

  • buy a used car instead of new and invest the difference in price

  • borrow books, movies and music from your local public library and invest your savings

  • save and invest your pocket change

Imagine this: Starting with $0 and depositing $5,000 annually in a Roth IRA account over 41 years (at a 10%* annual rate of return compounded monthly), you will have $3,081,554.

Total deposits = $210,000
Total interest earned = $2,871,554
Total taxes paid = $0
Total Saved= $3,081,554

Choose affordable and cost-effective options and rather than feel deprived, feel excited that you get to invest the difference in yourself and your future.

~ Bon Appetit!


*The actual rate of return is largely dependent on the type of investments you select. From January 1970 to December 2008, the average annual compounded rate of return for the S&P 500, including reinvestment of dividends, was approximately 9.7% (source: www.standardandpoors.com).

Total savings are calculated in actual dollars (not inflation-adjusted). A common measure of inflation in the U.S. is the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which has a long-term average of 3.1% annually, from 1925 through 2008.

How To Get Rich: The Devil Must Be In The Details

Recently, I wrote the “The World’s Shortest Guide On How To Be Thin and Rich“. Here’s the how-to-be-rich part, in it’s entirety:

  1. Spend less money than you earn (or to put it another way, make more money than you spend)
  2. Invest in your future

That’s it! Truly, this is all it takes to achieve financial freedom.

Since the principles are certainly very short and sweet, the devil must be in the details. So today, let’s take a closer look at the first step. Within step #1 above (spend less money than you earn / make more money than you spend), you have three choices:

a)  Spend less money. Fortunately in today’s economic climate, decadence is passe and frugality is the new cool. Still, I find that most people I talk to through my coach business are deeply in debt because they are living an unsustainable lifestyle. Those with a negative net worth often drive new(er) cars and live in big houses. If you are serious about spending less money, recognize that housing, cars and taxes dominate most budgets. Rather than focusing on the small stuff like your cable bill and Starbucks treats, make dramatic cuts to your big budget busters first. Sell your late-model car and replace it with a less expensive used one. Now take your newly found cash — plus the monthly savings from eliminating or reducing your car payments — and throw it at your debt. If you are debt-free, throw it at your retirement and savings accounts instead. Do the same with your other big ticket items, including your house. Once you’ve tackled the biggies, you can whittle away at the little stuff (cable, Starbucks, etc).

~ OR ~

b)  Make more money. Within this option you have two basic choices: work more, or get paid more for the work you already do. Personally, I prefer to get paid more for the work I’m already doing. Ask for a raise or a promotion; cut out the middleman (your employer) and work for yourself; increase your rates; hire subcontractors and delegate extra work for a share of the profits.

~ OR ~

c)  Do both.

Which option do YOU prefer?

How to Make Money Management a Family Affair

We are raised to believe that talking about money is rude, embarrassing or boastful. But where has this belief gotten us? Without open discussion, money management often becomes a mysterious and difficult task, causing strife in our lives and relationships.

Our children learn from our example. If we behave as though money management is painful, secretive or confusing, we thwart our child’s financial future. Is this what we want for our kid? Of course not. We all want our children to acquire the tools necessary to power their own future financial independence. Few high school students graduate with any formal personal finance instruction — children receive the majority of their financial literacy from their parents. Modeling healthy personal finance behaviors is THE key to raising money-savvy children. What are you teaching YOUR kids?

Involving the entire family in financial discussions has many benefits:

  • Money is a sore topic for many families. Open discussion benefits our family relationships.
  • When the entire family is on board, keeping to a budget becomes easy. The family shares a creative, problem-solving energy and everyone feels empowered.
  • Kids think “outside of the box” better than adults do. They will surprise you with their remarkable insights and ideas.
  • Teach your child to save and invest now and you’ll take full advantage of the astounding magic of compounding. To accumulate $1 million by age 65, a 5 year old child only needs a one time contribution of $9875 OR a monthly contribution of only $57! Click here to learn the details.
  • Learning about money can be fun when it’s a family project. Spend some of your family financial meetings playing educational money games. See my list of suggested games below.

So grab your family calendar and schedule a “Money Monday” or “Finance Friday” or whatever works for you and your family. Block out an hour each month. Choose a time that everyone is likely to be relaxed, well-fed and free from other distractions. Consider making this a festive occasion — serve homemade cookies, offer a contest with prizes, or hold your meeting in a tent pitched in your backyard.

What can you do during your family finance meetings? Here are a few suggestions:

1)   Make and review your Treasure Map.
2)   Review your values and priorities, particularly as they relate to money.
3)   Delegate financial tasks to each family member as appropriate: have your youngest sort receipts; one can pay bills; another can reconcile bank statements.
4)   Brainstorm ways to spend less. Avoid blame and guilt trips! Instead, have fun with the challenge: offer incentives and prizes.
5)   Play games that increase financial knowledge and skills. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

6)   Employ your kids. Give them a wage and valuable work experience for doing extra work around the house. Discuss budgeting and assignment of income into various categories such as: 10% invest / 10% save / 10% charity / 70% spend.
7)   Brainstorm ways to increase your family income with an in-home business. I started my first business at age 12 — a petsitting and dog walking service. I learned valuable entrepreneurial skills, earned money and had fun.
8 )  Invite your child to shadow (observe) you at work.
9)   Invite a mentor or entrepreneur to dinner and conduct an interview. Learn from those you’d like to emulate.
10)  Discuss ways your family can give back to your community. Volunteering not only serves others, it offers your children valuable work experience.
11)  Read age-appropriate books together:

Related books about raising happy, money-savvy kids:
Kids and Money: Giving Them the Savvy to Succeed Financially
How to Raise Millionaire Children

How do you feel about sharing your personal income with your children? Do you have any other family-friendly books or games relating to personal finance that you’d recommend? Do your kids receive an allowance and if so, do they work to earn it?

How To Find A Job, Despite The Recession!

With 13.2 million people currently unemployed in the United States, ABC’s television program, The View, aired a themed show this week on jobs: where to find one, how to get one, what to do if you become unemployed, job ideas for stay-at-home moms, and how to start a “job club”.

Because this is such a timely topic (everyone knows at least one person who has lost a job during this recession), I took notes to share with you. Please share this post with the people in your life who are needing some encouraging, constructive support right now. This post is LOADED with helpful links and resources!

Andrew Serwer, managing editor of Fortune magazine, reports that the lowest unemployment rates are in the farming and ranching industries, ranking states like Wyoming and South Dakota lowest in unemployment.

Ah, but you’re not a farmer or a cowboy? Serwer reports that the following industries are also fairing relatively well right now:

  • retail trade
  • health care
  • finance, insurance
  • professional and business services
  • state and local government
  • accommodations and food services

Jobs that should grow with the President’s stimulus programs include:

  • technology
  • education

What industries are NOT likely to be hiring now?

  • construction
  • manufacturing
  • mining
  • real estate
  • arts, entertainment
  • transportation
  • warehousing
  • utilities

Here are two specific companies that ARE hiring today:

  • Wal-Mart is opening 150 new stores across the country and is hiring store managers, human resource personnel, sales clerks, and more. They are willing to train people who have a strong work ethic.
  • HCA Healthcare reports 9,000 available job openings for nursing, x-ray technicians, physical therapists, secretaries, administrative and more.

Marcus Buckingham, career expert and author of The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success, reports that it is taking 120 days on average to land a job. He offers his top ten things to do if you become unemployed:

1) Financial assessment: Do a thorough review of your current financial situation. What costs can you eliminate or reduce starting today? Cancel your cable package, eat at home, stop buying things — or buy them used. Hoard your cash.

2) Self-assessment: Re-evaluate what your strengths, interests and passions are and how you can best contribute to a company. Discuss your ideas with someone who is objective, such as an open-minded friend, a coach, or a counselor.

3) Update your resume: Customize it for each specific job that you are applying for. Keep it simple — filling your resume with irrelevant details is distracting. Highlight relevant experiences and describe your strengths using quantifiable verbs (“organized, saved”). Be specific about the results you have achieved and the contributions you have made to the business. Contact the people you intend to use as references. Only include those references you are confident will give you a favorable review.

4) Hire yourself as a headhunter: Treat FINDING a job AS a job, with a 9 to 5 structure. Establish daily and weekly goals. If you are rejected for a job position, ask the interviewer for feedback. Their feedback can help you improve your job hunting skills.

5) Network: Tell the people you know that you are looking for a new job. But phrase it in a positive way like, “I am looking for a career that will allow me to use my strengths to improve a business” rather than whining, “I lost my job. Do you know anyone who is hiring?” Stay in touch with colleagues (especially your previous manager) so you are on their mind if re-hire opportunities come up.

6) Get your mindset right: It isn’t just about thinking positively, it’s about acting positively. Tackle the things you’ve been putting off in other areas of your life. Act, feel productive, and your stress will be reduced.

7) Expand your skills: Finish your degree, apprentice, hone your strengths. This will make you more appealing to future employers.

8 ) Take a platform job: Go ahead a take a job that you are over-qualified for. Do what it takes to feed you and your family. Look at it not as a step down, but as an opportunity to network with new people while you continue to search for your ultimate job. Or wow your employer so much that they promote you.

9) Volunteer: Show future employers concrete activities you’ve performed during your lay-off that demonstrate initiative and skill-building. Be an awesome volunteer and you might impress someone at the organization so much that they will offer you a paying job. (Note: if you are receiving unemployment benefits, check to see whether volunteering impacts your eligibility.)

10) Start your business: Now that you have the time to investigate this option, utilize the many free resources available for those who are interested in starting a business.

Tory Johnson, CEO for Women For Hire and author of Will Work from Home: Earn the Cash–Without the Commute, shared her “job club” tips. A job club is a group that motivates one another, networks, supports, and helps each other keep accountable. Click here to learn more about forming a job club.

Johnson also suggests:

  • expand your search – create different resumes targeting your different skills
  • create a LinkedIn profile and ask people to write recommendations for you
  • update your resume and make it look like you are doing things rather than waiting around for a job to come to you
  • freelance

Resume Mistakes:

  • One size fits all – you should customize for each job application
  • rehashes your experience – highlight your successes instead
  • outdated and overblown – your resume needs to be current and concise
  • unexplained gaps – address employment gaps using volunteerism, education, etc.
  • submit and wait – you need to submit and HUSTLE!

Johnson also discussed stay-at-home mom jobs that allow women to take care of their kids while earning an income. Here are some of the online resources she suggested:

Direct sales (through established companies, like Tupperware parties):

Promote your expertise:

Soft Skills / Care giving:

Hard Skills:

Online Selling (convert your clutter like designer clothing, old cell phones, and movies into cash):

Craft sales:

  • Creative Etsy.com users sell $12 million dollars worth of their hand-crafted products!

I hope you find my notes and these resources helpful. Please leave additional ideas in the comment section below. For more money making and saving ideas, please head on over to the recent Carnival of Personal Finance!

The World’s Shortest Guide On How To Be Thin and Rich

Much has been written about how to lose weight, but it all boils down to just two things:

  1. Eat less
  2. Exercise more

Similarly, much has been written about getting wealthy, and again, the “secret” boils down to only two things:

  1. Spend less money than you earn (or to put it another way, make more money than you spend)
  2. Invest in your future

Imagine, if you do these four things, you’ll be thin and rich!

But if it’s this simple, why isn’t everyone svelte and wealthy? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Please visit the Carnival of Pecuniary Delights 2, Saving Money Edition hosted by Wisebread.