3 Simple Savings Ideas

saving-money-coins-graph-stock-market-go-up-43705180

Learning how to get myself from broke to having a few thousand dollars in the bank at all times hasn’t been easy, and there are still times when my savings account depletes faster than I want it to, but

1. Control your spending. This really is easier than it sounds. (I know that blouse is really cute, but do you need it? Your kid really likes that name brand cereal, but I can guarantee he won’t be able to tell the difference when you buy the store-brand.) Things like coupons for your normal, must-have essentials will go a long way, as well as planning your meals at home instead of eating out.

Not sure where to start with your spending habits? Fear not: begin by tracking your expenses every day, every penny. (Sounds tedious? Stick with me, it’ll be worth it.)

I personally keep a four-column ledger of our household finances, along with a running balance of our bank and investment accounts, cash on hand, gift cards, etc:

1) Income

2) Expense

3) Refund

4) Balance.

A weekly run-down of these expenses with your spouse can help you both decide what is necessary, what’s fun/okay to spend occasionally, and what spending habits you both need to stop. You’ll be suprised at the ease with which poor spending habits are curbed by simply doing this.

Also, consider using online bill-pay through your bank. It’s an easy way to control when the money goes out, and it keeps your creditors and utilities from billing your account or credit card too early or too late. It will also give you the peace of mind

2. Automate your savings. This is so very easy to do. Most employers will let you use direct deposit a set percentage or dollar amount into a separate account from your savings account. If this isn’t available or you’re unsure of it, set up automatic transfers.

I strongly recommend using different banks for spending and savings. For savings, an online bank that doesn’t have a physical banking location is ideal for this. I personally use Digit, which takes minimal withdrawals and sets them aside for me in a separate account. If I need my money, I simply deposit it back into my checking, and it’s available the next business day. This keeps me from making stupid impulse purchases with my savings.

3. Get a side hustle. Simple moonlighting work can be great to bring in extra income. If you feel you don’t have the right skills, you can learn something simple like computer coding. Other ideas include using Amazon, Etsy, or Ebay to sell items you acquire or make yourself, allowing ads on your personal blog. AirBNB is also a really great way to get some extra cash, especially if you live in the city or near a tourist attraction.

Off the internet, tutoring, a cleaning or handyman business, or (if you’re brave) medical studies are just a few of the ways you can get some extra money in the door to help you toward your savings goals.

BONUS: Try the “52 week money challenge” saving strategy, but do it separately from your normal savings plan. This is really simple. Save $1 the first week, $2 the next, $3 the third week, and so forth. After 52 weeks (one year), you’ll have an extra $1378 in the bank. There are many variations to this plan, too, and a quick Google search will pull these up.

Standard

10 Simple Ways to Get that 2nd Date

A simple Google search of “how do I get a second date?” brings up a myriad of dating sites and advice. Clearly, this is not an uncommon question. The advice is as varied as it could be, but you can notice common themes in these advice columns.

Below are the ones that I personally found worked well. Now, as a married man, I can look back on all the first dates I had, both good and bad, and realize what went well and what I could have done better. You can’t control what the other person does, but if you put yourself out there, make sure you’re doing your best to make them feel like it was worth their time.

1. Be your best self. Guys, open her door. Ladies, say thank you when he goes out of his way to make you feel special. We’re culturally expected to be on our best behavior on the first date, so make sure that this really is the case.

If you’ve got spotty things in your past, remember that this person has probably Googled you. Have an explanation ready, but don’t obsess or worry too much.

Also, some things are always a no-no: don’t get drunk, don’t share your conspiracy theory on aliens taking over the world, and so forth. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Am I seeming over the top in any way?” If you can answer yes- at all – cool it and change the subject.

2. Be real. Nothing will make the other person comfortable more quickly than seeing that you’re being yourself. While you should still be at your best, being relaxed and easy-going will help the other party also feel at ease.

Speaking your mind is definitely okay, especially if the person is willing to push back a little bit in the conversation. Strong dialogue is a good indicator that you can balance each other out.

3. Stay off your phone. No one likes wondering if their date is texting the person they met from Tinder last night. Do yourself a favor and stay off your phone unless it’s an emergency, and this includes checking your smartwatch. Being 100% present will tell your date that they’re a worthwhile person and you are enjoying spending time with them.

4. Ask questions, but don’t interrogate. When I was working on my undergrad, I once had a really fun date to the circus with a great girl. She had run for student body president the year before, was pretty, funny, smart and could hold her own. However, on the drive home, she began firing questions at me like a police officer trying to get a confession out of her suspect. It made me rather uncomfortable, and I was leery about going out with her again.

Ask questions about who they are, such as their family, what growing up was like, what they do in their career. It may seem mundane, but this is basic information that’s vital to moving forward in any realationship.

5. Keep the first date simple, but have a plan. This will help you avoid the awkward, “So…. what do you want to do?” conversation. Something like ice cream or a free concert could be a ton of fun without dominating their entire evening. There’s nothing wrong with calling it a night after an hour or two.

6. Don’t let your eyes wander. Seriously. Going back to being 100% present in the moment, this helps your date feel important. Don’t flirt with the waitress, don’t mention that the person on the corner is hot, and certainly don’t be caught checking out the guy who just walked by.

7. Don’t show off, but don’t be cheap, either. This is a fine balance to achieve. Going to that pricey steakhouse downtown probably isn’t a way to make the lady feel comfortable, but don’t take her to a burger joint, either. This falls back to number 5: have a plan, and make sure she’s going to be comfortable with it.

8. Give a kiss on the cheek. Only do this if you want a second date. This lets the other person know you’re definitely interested, but that you’re not expecting anything. If they want to kiss you back, great, but if they don’t reciprocate, say goodnight and call it good.

9. Ask what they’d like to do on the next date, or even just ask what some of their favorite activities are. This gives a segway into tying down a place and time for the next time you want to see this person.

10. GUYS: Call her back – quickly. One of the biggest errors I’ve heard from single guys is “Wait at least a week.” This is absolutely a terrible idea. Send a text that evening saying you had fun, and then dial her number within 24-48 hours and ask her out again, if haven’t done so already. This will let her know you’re interested and willing to do what it takes to spend time with her.

Standard

15 Reasons Why You’re Losing Friends on Facebook

While social media etiquette is still a very abstract and ambiguous concept at best, and preferences most certainly vary by demographic and from even person to person, there are some pretty standard things that are terrifically annoying and just typically aren’t a good idea on social media.

I’ll admit, I’ve been on social media since it was born with Myspace in 2004, and I got on Facebook in 2005, so I’ve been guilty of these missteps myself from time to time. However, having worked with social media as part of my job and business ventures these past few years, I’ve learned exactly what’s okay and what’s not.

My advice should be taken at face-value; the items on this list simply reflect my opinions and experiences.

1. You over-post. Facebook can be used to express our feelings and opinions, for sure. If it’s not overly-personal, post away. But limit yourself to a few times a day. If you have pictures to upload, do it all at once, not one at a time through your Instagram.

And for heaven’s sake: please don’t sync your twitter to your Facebook (especially if you’re a big tweeter/retweeter), because it causes what I refer to as “Newsfeed noise” that no one enjoys really enjoys seeing.

2. You like and comment on literally everything you see. I can’t tell you how much this makes me want to un-friend someone. If you have solid feedback or a great comment, please leave it on the post, but every time I log in or pick up my phone, I really don’t want to see that you’ve commented for the 30th post in a row.

The same goes for liking. If it resonates with you, you’re genuinely glad for the person, or you think it’s actually funny, like away. But chances are if you’re liking everything that’s in your newsfeed posted by your friends, it’s reflecting your own inability to think and act for yourself.

3. You don’t post anything original. Incessant memes, Some E-cards, a celebrity’s good deed, news stories and other shared posts all have their own place, but if you don’t have any of your own ideas going up with all the rest of that, it again appears that you’re not able to think for yourself.

4. You’re obsessive over your significant other. When I see frequent kissing selfies, mushy “I love you more than grilled cheese sandwiches” and consistent “My husband is the best!” posts, it gets old.

Even worse is the couple who is all-too-frequently “on again, off again” and updates their relationship status every time they get back together, only to break up again the following week, swearing up and down that they’re “Never, ever, ever getting back together. Whether or not you choose to put your relationship status on Facebook is entirely up to you, but don’t use it to get attention that your not getting from your relationship.

5. You post cryptic, attention-seeking updates. We’ve all seen it:

“I’m just done!”

“So happy!”

“I can’t even anymore.”

“Fake people make me so angry. Goodbye, $%*&!!!”

This is not adult communication. Especially if you’re talking about something or someone who’s caused you heartache, “Vaguebooking” is not the right way express this. If you want sympathy and it’s not overly-personal or bullying, post what the actual issue is and solicit feedback.

6. You try to turn Facebook into your therapist. However, airing your dirty laundry is not adult communication, either. If you’re currently struggling coping with something serious, pick up the phone and call someone you know cares or who at least will listen. They’ll likely respond in a caring way, rather than rolling their eyes and moving on.

Moreover, if you’re posting things like “I wish I was dead,” if you’re actually struggling with suicidal thoughts, it could be dismissed by those on your facebook as an attention ploy. Things like this are serious and should be dealt with in tight family circles and by professionals who can help.

7. You sign your name on your posts and comments. This one goes to all you baby boomers out there. We know it’s you: you have a profile with your name and picture. This isn’t an email; think of this as a conversation.

Equally as horrifying is commenting on a status or post with no regard to the subject matter. “Hi Billy, Hope you’re doing well! Just wanted to check in and see what time you’ll be by on Saturday? Love, Aunt Jo.” Think of this as butting into a conversation without regard to what the people around you are saying.

Just, no.

8. You misspell someone’s name. This is as offensive as it is silly. Their name is RIGHT THERE, on the profile you’re interacting with. If someone can’t take time to spell my name carefully (such as Denis or Danis or Denise), then I know they clearly don’t care about me, my life, or the so-called “friendship” that we’re claiming to have.

9. You constantly post about your multi-level marketing scheme, your summer sales job or your business you own.  I will never knock someone for being able to make some extra money or especially a good income through their own efforts and sales. But if you’re always posting from your personal profile about it, messaging your friends to join you and advocating it every other post, it gets annoying and people are more likely to tune out.

Instead, make your own like page- and learn how to effectively put money behind so that the right people can see and engage with your posts and hopefully buy your product or service.

10. You post too many gym pics and statuses. Yes, you work out. Yes, we know. No, we don’t particularly enjoy knowing every time you’re “getting your grind on” or downing that protein shake.

Posts like this appear cocky, arrogant and holier-than-thou. Lay off, bro. We get it.

11. You check in too frequently at your favorite coffee shop. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional checking, especially if they require it to access the internet. We just don’t want to see it every day.

12. You troll your friends’ statuses who disagree with your political or religious views. At this point, nearly every politician and mainstream religion is using social media to make their messages heard. This is actually pretty effective, given their campaigns are designed well and they have a good following. If your views align with theirs, there is nothing wrong with simply sharing something that resonates with you (but please make sure it’s accurate and has data to back it up, if it’s making a claim).

There’s also nothing wrong with a good, healthy debate. But using this platform to inundate us all with your beliefs won’t change anyone’s views. Those kinds of changes are made in the classroom and by reading books, not memes and articles.

13. You put your private matters on blast. Spousal arguments, financial problems, and your kid’s bad grades all fall in this category, along with many others. Again, making FB your therapist is an annoying attention ploy that people don’t want to see.

14. You post way, way, way too many selfies. We all post the occasional one. But if you’re taking a zillion pictures, please, take it to Snapchat, where people are actually expecting to see that.

15. You  have a joint account with your significant other. This is perhaps the worst thing I see. It’s inconvenient for most of your friends, it looks unprofessional to employers, and we can’t even figure out whose birthday it really is!

This is what the relationship status is for! I love that my profile says that I’m married to Jessica, and for us, it shows that we’re equal but different people.

Bonus: “Copy and paste so that ____ will or won’t happen!”  scams. I have to take my hat off to whoever comes up with these silly posts that seem to circulate every several months, or so. The most popular posts are actually searched by hackers, and they will then attempt to break into your account. If your password is weak, this makes your profile a very easy target.

Standard

The Significance of Closing a Prayer

“Inthenamejeschristmen.”

I hear it a lot. I’m not here to criticize any one individual, and I’ve been guilty of this too, where I’m so anxious to get going that I shove the ending of my prayer or talk or testimony together so quickly that it sounds like one big, mashed-up word.

Lately, I’ve been noticing it a lot and making an effort not to do it myself. Here’s what I’ve learned about prayer, and particularly about closing in the name of Jesus Christ.

Prayer is there to align our will with God’s, to beseech blessings that are fit for us, to gain personal conviction and testimony of the reality of God, prophets, the Book of Mormon, and other important facets of the Restoration and our relationship with Christ.

little boy prayer

Everything we do to get to the Father, we do through Christ. Our very salvation lies on this principle. “No man cometh to the Father, but by me,” He taught us, as the Apostle John recorded (See John 14:6). This very principle governs all our communication with God. Were it not for Christ, communication with the Father would be cut

This very principle governs all our communication with God. Were it not for Christ, communication with the Father would be cut off; our unworthy souls would not be allowed into His presence. We would pray to no avail. Gratefully, there is a Savior, a Redeemer, who will intercede in our behalf and cleanse us on His conditions.

Thus, when we say, “In the name of Jesus Christ,” we are literally invoking His Atoning power to go to the Father on our behalf, and because we are sinners, and the communication with God can’t happen without Him.

When we say “amen,” and we’re the voice of the prayer, we’re noting that we are speaking on behalf of those in the room/listening/joining in prayer. It’s a powerful thing, to be asked to represent a congregation, or, more importantly, your own family, the eternal unit that moves on together after this life, which is made possible by repenting, being baptized and participating in the ordinances that take place in Holy Temples.

family prayer.jpg

When we follow with an “amen” as the congregation or family, we’re literally agreeing to what was just said. One of the best things someone taught me to do what to follow along in my head and repeat the words of the prayer as they’re being said. It has made my “amens” far more meaningful, and it’s engaged me completely in the prayer. It keeps my mind from wandering off to imagination-land during the time I ought to be joining with my brothers and sisters or my wife and other family members to speak to the Creator of us all.

So friends, let me implore all of us to not mash the ending of our prayers or even our talks and testimonies and lessons. Let’s clearly dictate “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” Let’s mean it.

And let’s rely on He who is mighty to save, as we end our prayers. After all, it’s His power by which we can pray in the first place.

Jesus in Gethsemane.jpg

Standard