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4 Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs Working Full Time

4 Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs Working Full Time

One of my favorite things to do is create vision boards – it’s like permission to daydream. And while that’s a great way to find out what your heart wants, a lot of us need something more solid, a plan to get to our dreams. After all, that house in the French Mediterranean probably won’t buy itself, right?

When I decided to branch out as a freelancer, there were so many things to do before I even got down to the business of starting my business. It was mind-boggling.

And honestly, if I’d been better prepared, I would’ve done a lot more of that work before I quit my full-time job. So if becoming an entrepreneur is on your vision board, take it from me: Start early on your dream, because there’s plenty you can do while you work your 9-to-5.

4 Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs Working Full Time

1. Write Your Business Plan

Maybe when you hear this you think (as I did) boooooooring! Who wants to do all those nitty-gritty details? Who’s even gonna read it? Well, if you’re looking for financial backing, the bank will be interested, for starters. And maybe your significant other or anyone else relying on your income.

But even if you’re not financing your business with a loan, a business plan is something that every entrepreneur, solopreneur or freelancer can benefit from. Why? Because it gets you looking at your business from angles you hadn’t thought of before.

You’ll find the answers to questions like:

  • Who are your competitors and why are you different?
  • What your salary will be?
  • How much do you plan to spend on advertising?
  • What will you outsource?

  • Some of the best insight I’ve heard was that most people who start a business are not business people. They are folks who are good at making a product or providing a service and think they can do it better than others.

    Most of us aren’t really skilled in business sense, and writing your business plan can give you a better sense of where your strengths and weaknesses are as well.

    2. Take a Class

    After you have an idea of where you excel and where you could use some help, look into taking classes on running a business. A lot of community colleges and learning centers have night classes on accounting, marketing, HTML and many other business skills. Small business centers often have weekend seminars.

    Just a few hours a week over several months can get you to a place that will help exponentially in the future of your business. Plus the skills you learn while you’re juggling classes with work – time management and prioritizing to name a few – will get you prepped for being your own boss as well.

    3. Create Your Financial Action Plan

    A lot of us don’t have a timeline for when we’ll be able to start our business because we don’t know when we’ll have the cash to do it. Using your business plan as a guide, look at what you’ll need to invest initially and open a savings account for your business.

    Start contributing to it monthly, even if it’s only $10. Add any extra cash you make (tax returns, gifts, etc.) to the pot as well. Create a fund-raiser-type thermometer to tell you how you’re doing and update it quarterly. This will help you get in the habit of reviewing your business finances, and it can encourage you to save even more.

    4. Find a Mentor

    Unless you went to college for business, you probably don’t have a lot of people in your life who are successful business owners. Most of the folks you know probably work for someone else, and while that’s fine most of the time, you need someone in your life that understands your drive and desire. Because entrepreneurs are special people – they like to take risks, they value their freedom.

    Finding someone who has already done what you want to do is invaluable, not just for honing your business acumen and improving your network, but also for camaraderie and encouragement. Check with your local Chamber Of Commerce, Small Business Development Centers or Service Corps Of Retired Executives for names of people who might be able to help you.

    Ideally you want someone within your industry, but more importantly, you want a person who has good business sense and time to mentor you. Reach out to a few of these people in a respectful and formal way, almost like you would approach a prospective employer.

    Know that most of them are busy, so be sure to stay on point and assure them that their help would not be wasted on you. Then slowly get to know them over coffee, lunch or some other industry-specific activity. Come armed with questions, and be sure to always follow up with thank-you notes with specific insights you’ve gleaned from your visits with them.

    Remember that so much of being a successful entrepreneur is keeping the back-end of your business running smoothly – not just providing goods and services. Starting early, while you’re still getting a paycheck from someone else, will help put you in the position to make more money later because the business of running your business will already be handled.

    5 Qualities Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Hone

    5 Qualities Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Hone

    I’d always wanted to be a freelancer, but I had to wait years while I got my finances straight. I realized later I could have been doing a ton to get ready for my business while my cash settled. Because it takes more than just money to run a business.

    If you’re like the many folks who are still saving your money, there’s still plenty you can be doing now to make your business thrive. Here are five skills I’d wish I’d honed before I started my business.

    1. Time Management

    It should come as no surprise to you that once you start a business, you will have very little time for anything else, particularly at first. Something few people know is that often the business of your business takes up a lot more of your time than creating the products or services you provide.

    And if you’re anything like me, you will want to get every detail right, which means you’ll probably spend way too much time on way too many things, leaving you little time for friends, family or even lunch. What’s a girl to do?

    Start practicing your time management skills now. Set timers for tasks. Put your appointments on a calendar. Research and find the systems that work for you and put them into effect now. That way, when you’re meeting with graphic designers, interviewing prospective employees and reviewing lease contracts, you’ll still be setting aside time for haircuts, grocery shopping and getting your actual work done.

    2. Discipline

    You’ve got an afternoon blessedly free, and you’ve planned to spend it being creative — coming up with your next big product or project. But come 6:30 p.m. you haven’t done much besides answer your emails, check Facebook and clean your fridge (which, to be fair, needed to be done).

    The problem is, if you set aside time to do one thing, you probably had a pretty good reason. Discipline involves following through even when you’re feeling distracted or less-than-motivated.

    A good way to work on this now is to practice discipline with something you’re already committed to, like going to the gym, playing an instrument or learning a language. Set aside a time and follow through, even if it means rolling into the gym, throwing on your sweats and slowly walking on the treadmill. Show yourself you can count on you.


    3. Prioritizing

    Remember that fridge you got cleaned when you were supposed to be brainstorming your next big business move? That’s a clear issue of prioritizing, and it’s something most of us struggle with, which is why our to-do lists often become prisons or sources of shame.

    There is no need to feel this way. The first thing to understand is this: It is never all going to get done. What you must do, instead, is answer the question: What needs to get done today?

    There are plenty of ways to practice this, but one I like is choosing three chores or things on my to-do list that must get done. This keeps me focused and feeling less overwhelmed. While there will probably be many more things to get done when you run your business, knowing that you’ve been consistently getting those three things done every day will give you confidence and keep you moving.

    4. Delegating

    When I started my business, I didn’t trust anyone to do what I could do, even if it was something I would have to learn from scratch, like coding or business taxes. But the amount of time I spent learning those things cut drastically into the amount of time I could have spent providing services that make me actual money.

    It’s a balancing act, delegation. Part of it is knowing your worth and part of it is trusting someone else to do what you could probably do. An easy way to practice this is asking friends and family for help with projects and chores you think no one can handle but you.

    Another thing to do before you start a business is get quotes from other professionals and compare that to how much time you’d have to spend doing it. For instance: Would you spend $300 on a website or would you do it yourself in 80 hours? Because at that rate, you’re making $3.75 an hour. This part of practicing delegation will get you to understand more clearly that time is money.

    5. Self-awareness

    If there is something that can improve every area of your business, it’s the ability to be honest with yourself and understand the person you are. Not the person you want to be, who codes and creates beautiful graphic design; not the person you should be, who always shows up on time and gets every job she bids; but who you are this minute.

    Knowing your strengths and weaknesses makes it easier to choose employees, contractors and even vendors. Knowing that you often get exhausted in the afternoon will stop you from scheduling important meetings then. There are so many benefits to understanding yourself, both in life and in business.

    Start now by spending time with yourself, listening to your heart and asking trusted friends for insight on the person you are. Read self-improvement blogs and peruse the self-help section, talk to a therapist, journal — whatever it is that helps you be more honest and understanding of the you that you are.

    There are so many things you can do today to start a business even five years from now. Don’t wait until the day your bank account says you’re ready. Start now and you’ll be a business superstar when you finally take the plunge.

    4 Ways to Reduce Obligations & Free Up Time

    4 Ways to Reduce Obligations & Free Up Time

    A while ago I felt overwhelmed as I looked at everything on my to-do list. I needed to plan for a writing group, the refrigerator was empty, my house was a disaster and I had a party to host that weekend.

    And that was just what I felt I had to do. There were plenty of other commitments I’d made that I somehow hoped to fit in the mix as well.

    I’m pretty sure my story isn’t an unfamiliar one to you. It would seem that between our good intentions in January and the weather turning, we’ve piled on more than we can handle.

    It’s time to do something about it. Just like it’s helpful to clear out your closets a few times a year, it’s good to tidy up your obligations every so often.

    How to reduce obligations
    Here’s how:

    1. Take Inventory with Honesty

    Before you can clean things up, you need to know what you’re working with, both in terms of what obligations you currently have and how much time you have during your week. I’ve written before about documenting your time. Like any resource, you need to know how much time you have before you start using it.

    The other piece is inventorying your obligations. You can do this with a spreadsheet or with a blank piece of paper. Create four columns:

  • The commitment
  • Time it generally takes
  • Who the obligation is to and what they get out of it
  • What you get out of it

  • This may take some time — I suggest doing it while you’re documenting your time. Carry the paper in your wallet or use something like Google Drive so you have access to your spreadsheet from all your devices.
    The other key part of this is honesty. No white lies about how much time you’re watching TV or playing games every night. No one sees this but you. If your volunteering is supposed to take up two hours of your evening but you always run more toward three, mark it that way.

    2. Evaluate

    Now that you have an idea of how much time you have and what you’re currently committing to, I’m going to guess that you’re impressed with yourself for fitting so much into so little time.

    While this is a great skill that is for handling short-term, busy situations, it isn’t sustainable. It’s time to figure out how you can make some changes and spend some time on yourself.

    How much time are you spending doing things you don’t want to do? How much energy goes to obligations you only do because you think you should?

    Where are your time vacuums? By this I mean things like mindless internet browsing or watching TV just because it’s on. While there’s nothing wrong with this occasionally, it can take over an evening if you’re not careful.

    This is also a good time to ask if your standards are a little too high. If you’re anything like me, they’re bordering on perfectionism. Maybe it’s OK to let the house get a little messy.

    3. Reduce & Reuse

    While no one really wants to run errands, they’re kind of a given in life. Can you group them together so they take less time? I often bring my grocery list, reusable bags and a little snack along with me to the gym so I can shop afterward. Can you delegate, whether it’s work-, volunteer- or home-related to reduce what you’ve committed to?

    In terms of reusing, what can do double-duty in your life? I’ll often combine my workout with my dog’s walk, hiking up the side of the mountain.

    Have you created something for one part of your life that might work for another? I sent writing prompts to my blog followers, and now I’m reusing them with my writing group. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Comedians and musicians reuse material in almost every set. Why can’t you?

    4. Have the Hard Conversations

    This is both for talking to yourself and with others. Do you still enjoy a commitment you’ve had for years, or is it time to move on? Are things that once nourished you now draining you? These are questions you need to answer, and they can require introspection and some tough realizations.

    Tidying up your obligations means some people could feel let down as you move on and take care of yourself. It’s part of the process and one that you have to be prepared for. Part of having integrity is acting in a way that matches your feelings, and the right thing and the hard thing are often times synonymous.

    But don’t be surprised if people welcome your change. We all need a little push and people can be grateful for the catalyst you’ve provided. Who knows? Maybe all the people in your book club are as stressed about each meeting as you are. When was the last time you all finished a book anyway?

    5 Ways to Say No

    5 Ways to Say No

    Last week I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to get more done than was probably possible. A friend of mine asked if I would like to go for a hike, and my initial reaction was to say yes.

    I didn’t want to make her feel bad, after all. Plus I was always talking about how I loved to wander in the forest. Wouldn’t she think I was a big jerk if I said no? Or worse, would she think I didn’t like her?

    Luckily logic kicked in and asked, How can you possibly fit in a hike in the middle of this week? So I told her no. She told me later she was happy because she realized after she asked that she had an errand that needed to be dealt with. Saying no can be tough, but if you think of it as a skill, you can learn to hone it. Here are a few tips.

    1. Practice with small things.

    Say you decide you’re going to start running. You don’t plan to run a marathon the first time you go out, do you? Nope, you start with a few miles at most so you don’t hurt yourself. You work up to a bigger run over weeks and months.

    The same concept can be applied to mental habits like saying no. You can’t be expected to be good at it right away – you need practice. You can do this with small things like a water refill at a restaurant. It might sound silly, but I used to allow waiters to refill my soda just to be polite, even though I had no intention of drinking it.

    This is where I started, by saying no to people and things that had little consequence on my conscience. It helped me exercise my no-muscles with the least amount of pain possible. Just the act of saying no can feel foreign to some of us, so getting used to the word in your mouth and saying it out loud helps. Pretend you’re a two year old. Work out that no-muscle like they do when they first learn they have it.

    2. Use your calendar to say no.

    I know that an unevolved way of thinking is looking for someone to blame. I try hard to stay out of the blame game normally, but if I must, I look for something inanimate to shoulder the burden. And in this case, my calendar can handle it.

    If I’m asked to attend an event that I would rather not, I’ll often pull out my phone (which has my calendar on it) and look through it. Then I’ll say something like, “It looks like my calendar is full that day,” or “Wow, my day is really booked up then.” It’s an easy segue to saying no in a way that can take some of the pressure off you. And speaking of your calendar…

    Ways to Say No

    3. Delay answering until you can in a more comfortable way.

    Sometimes the easiest way to say no isn’t face-to-face. While not everyone likes this idea, it can be fantastic when you want to say no but are struggling for a way to do it. Postpone your response.

    I’ll say something like, “I need to talk with my husband,” or “I need to check my calendar, and I’ll get back to you.” That gives you time to feel good about your no and formulate a response on your own terms.

    4. Practice the soft no.

    Life is all about the language we use. You’re not ordering a small coffee at Starbucks – it’s a tall. You can extend that same notion to the way you say no. Some people, including myself, feel rude saying the word “no.” I’ve been told that I should be able to say no to something and stop right there, with no explanation needed.

    While that may be what I’m supposed to do, it’s not easy for me, so I’ve found a work-around and that is the soft no. Instead of the abrupt short sentence, I say something like, “No,” pause, “I don’t think so.”

    I make sure to say it firmly, but that pause in the middle followed by a little more no makes me feel like I’m offering something else. It’s my compromise to no explanation. It’s a soft no.

    If you’re like me and find the quick no to be too curt, this trick can really help. Of course, other people find that the shortness of no is like ripping off a bandage, so find what works for you.

    5. Saying no means saying yes to something else.

    This is a great mantra and something to remind yourself of whenever you feel like you want to say no, but you shouldn’t. Should is the enemy of saying no. There are very few things that you should do and even fewer that you need to do.

    When you say no, it means saying yes to yourself. To time for yourself. To a more enjoyable lifestyle. To a more sustainable way of living.

    When you start making your no’s more intentional, your choices become more powerful. You live a life on purpose, not just to fill up space. Remind yourself of that often, and you can change the belief that saying no is rude or unfair. Instead it’s a choice that honors you and those around you.

    What will you say no to this week? Share with me in the comments.

    Dress Your Tech

    Dress Your Tech

    Dress your tech - free wallpaper for your phone, tablet and computer

    Last year I stumbled across Barbra Ignatiev‘s Instagram feed. I instantly fell in love with her watercolors and have been updating my phone’s wallpaper with her art ever since.

    It was only natural that when I decided to commission an artist to create some tech artwork, Barbra was the gal I contacted.

    Inspired by the colors of our spring photo shoot of Lavender Cora, these beautifully vibrant wallpapers will spruce up your tech.

    Select a format to download:

    Dress your tech - free wallpaper for your phone, tablet and computer

    Download for Tablet Download for Computer Download for Phone

    Copyright Barbra Ignatiev. All rights reserved.

    3 Reasons to Carry a Water Bottle (that aren’t money or the environment)

    3 Reasons to Carry a Water Bottle (that aren’t money or the environment)

    Some of the first people I met in Germany commented that all the Americans they knew carried water bottles. They wondered what the big deal was.

    Now I’m certainly all about sustainability and saving cash, but this wasn’t what this guy wanted to hear. Germans after all, are world leaders in both.

    So why would you carry a water bottle, adding extra weight and talking up space you could be using for other things? I’ll give you three good reasons.


    1. More Energy

    I’m pretty sure very few of us can go through an entire day without feeling groggy at some point, even after the best night’s sleep. The morning people among us still hit a wall around 3 p.m., and just because night owls might sleep late doesn’t mean they don’t need a power boost.

    Water helps you make the most of the rest you’re already getting. Most of us walk around perpetually dehydrated, our muscles thirsty and by extension, fatigued.

    So if you carry around a water bottle (and maybe keep one at your desk) you’ll be cashing in on easy energy our bodies already have stored. You might not even need your afternoon coffee break.

    2. Healthier Looking Skin & Hair

    Dehydration makes skin look drier and wrinkled, which is not good news for those of us in the cold, dry areas of the world. Although I’d venture to say that shriveled, sapped skin isn’t on anyone’s list of physical qualities regardless of geography.

    Carrying a water bottle is more likely to keep you hydrated — it’s a visual reminder to drink water — which means more supple skin as well as a healthier head of hair.

    Staying hydrated keeps your mane hydrated as it grows, meaning less flyaways and frizziness and more shine. You can’t get a cheaper and more accessible beauty tool than that.

    3. Better Mood

    People who drink more water tend to experience more balanced, happy moods; the reverse is true as well. Those of us who don’t get enough tend to be more crabby, irritable and impatient.

    Even mild dehydration can make a task seem too difficult, making our bad mood even worse. Carrying a bottle keeps water nearby, making it easier for us to drink up, alleviate frustration and feel better.

    Mental health is hardly something you can put a price on, which is why it’s one of the biggest reasons I carry a water bottle everywhere I go.

    Wondering how much water you need? Check out this water consumption calculator. Also water bottles don’t have to be giant ugly plastic things either. You can find some stylish looking, colorful ones. There’s even bottles that fold up to fit in the tiniest spaces.

    Staying hydrated isn’t rocket science and if you want to get serious about taking care of your body and your health, carrying a water bottle is an easy first step in the right direction.

    Cora Gets Knitting

    Cora as a Knitting Bag

    Cora was designed as a woman’s handbag…

    but she can carry knitting too!

    So says our customer:

    Hi there! Last fall I emailed asking for a smaller bag, and you responded that you had read my mind and were coming out with the Cora bag and helped with color choices. Flash forward a month or so, and my wonderful rose/brown Cora bag was under the Christmas tree! A few months later — is it really already March? — and I am still loving it deeply.

    I had thought that I needed a bag designed for knitters, as I almost always have some project along with me, but it appears that a bag designed BY a knitter is just as good! There is plenty of room in the large interior space for a 100g project and the related tools AND my phone AND my Kindle AND lipsticks and wallet and other necessities. Best of all, when I want to leave the heavy stuff behind, I can zip off the front clutch and go! Some fans of your knitting bags will probably be disappointed by your move into the general public, but I hope they give the Cora a chance it deserves. It works beautifully for this knitter with a life.

    And I am expecting an anniversary present soon of a gray one. (If you were ever to come out with a blue one, I have a birthday coming up in a few months. Just saying.)

    Thanks again for the Cora!

    Jen M.

    Cora as a Knitting Bag

    Cora as a Knitting Bag

    Cora as a Knitting Bag

    Cora as a Knitting Bag

    Shop Cora

    Six Easy Tips for an Organized Vanity

    Six Easy Tips for an Organized Vanity

    Kaitlyn is an inspirational blogger at Day Jobs & Dreams. She believes in learning by doing and is a gal with a positive mindset. Kaitlyn has popped over here to share with use her tips for organzing a vanity.

    Regardless of whether you primp at a dresser, a mirrored vanity or simply your bathroom counter, the vanity space is notorious hub for clutter. The typical morning rush combined with all the makeup, hair products, and other tools we use to doll up can make it challenging to keep this space tidy. Let’s face it, as ladies we spend a good portion of our time in front of these vanities. Today I am sharing a few easy and budget-friendly ways to streamline this daily process by creating a vanity space that is neat, organized and pretty to look at.

    1. Clean out

    Before you start to organize, it’s important to go through the products you have accumulated and toss those that have expired, will soon run out or you simply do not like or use. Please don’t disregard this step! I’ve skipped it before and the results were not pretty. Trust.

    Six Easy Tips for an Organized Vanity

    2. Trays are your new best friend

    I’m of the belief that one can never have too many trays. The little guys are so versatile, useful and a great way to quickly add style and vignette-like dimension to any space. Using multiple trays to keep your vanity organized keeps products separated and contained while remaining easily accessible. I’ve found this trick speeds up the cleaning process as well. It is much easier to move one product-filled tray than each product individually. Trays are also a great way to keep costs down. You can quickly refurbished a thrift store tray with a fresh coat of paint or make your own DIY tray. The marble and gold tray featured in these pictures is actually a DIY project I completed recently. (If you’re interested in making your own, I’ll be sharing a full tutorial on my blog in the next few weeks!)

    3. Repurpose old jars and candles as storage containers

    Speaking of cheap and easy—great news, friends! There’s finally a use for all those old candles you have accumulated around the house. Follow these tips to remove leftover wax from candles and use them as a way to store brushes, makeup pencils or countless other products.

    4. Show off your small items, too

    I use an assortment of decorative dishes, small plates and tiny finger bowls to keep my jewelry together and organized. I’ve found the cutest dishes at thrift stores and flea markets over the years and collecting them has become somewhat of a hobby. Since they typically run around $1-2 dollars a pop, it is a purchase I don’t have trouble validating. I’ve found these to be a perfect catch-all to keep your vanity counter clutter-free. Oh, and the more mismatched, the better! The variety adds charm, in my opinion.

    Six Easy Tips for an Organized Vanity

    5. Take advantage of drawer and cabinet space

    Store the products that you don’t use daily in a drawer or under the counter to maximize the surface area of your vanity.

    6. Lastly, let your personal style shine through

    It is your space, after all, right? Add a touch of warmth with a candle in a beautiful canister. Frame one of your favorite prints for morning inspiration. Brighten up the space with a vase filled with fresh flowers. The options are limitless!

    And there you have it. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to a tidy, organized vanity that is both beautiful and functional.

    5 Easy Steps to Do (This Week) To Save for Your Dream

    5 Easy Steps to Do (This Week) To Save for Your Dream

    Six years ago I moved to California with no job and $500 in my savings account. I think it’s safe to say I was a bit fearless — fearless with my credit card, mostly. Since then I’ve made a concerted effort to spend within my means and save. Fast forward to the present and along with a fully funded emergency fund, retirement and investment accounts, I’ve traveled to 10 countries, am my own boss and have no debt.

    We all have financial goals, but one that’s pretty universal is being able to fund your dream, whether it’s a month-long vacation, your own business or even your own home. I’m here to tell you that it can be done, and the easiest way is with baby steps. Here are five simple things you can do this week — each take about 10 minutes — to get your saving for your dream:

    5 Easy Steps to Do This Week To Save for Your Dream

    Monday: Open a Free Savings Account

    I’m not talking about the savings account you’ve had for years that rises and falls as times get tough. That’s your emergency fund, and while you definitely want one, what you need if you’re going to save for your European vacation is an account that is solely dedicated to that purpose. One you’re not tempted to borrow from or use in case of emergency. One that you name “My Boutique Business” so that you think twice before you consider withdrawing from it.

    If you use a traditional bank, some charge fees for accounts and have minimum balance requirements. They also have abysmal interest rates. Forget that. Sign up for an online bank like CapitalOne360 or HSBC, where your money is FDIC insured, you get better interest (which means more money!) and aren’t charged any fees.

    Tuesday: Set up a Recurring Instant Transfer

    Almost every bank allows you to set up balance transfers on a recurring basis, which can allow you to put aside money the day you get paid, keeping it from burning a hole in your pocket. This is a fantastic tool and can usually be done with your online banking.

    Don’t wait until you evaluate your spending to do this. Get started now. I don’t care if it’s $5 a month as long as you have something moving into your account. That whole phrase Out of sight, out of mind applies here. If you don’t see it in your account, you won’t miss it. And trust me, it will add up.

    Wednesday: Set Up a Personal Finance App

    Part of learning to save involves tracking spending and budgeting, which is as appealing to most people as a dental cleaning. The nice thing is that technology has made this a whole lot easier, with software and online tools that can tell you how much you spend, on what and even pay your bills for you.

    For today, just choose one and sign up. There are several tools out there. is a favorite because it’s easy to use and relatively painless to sign up for. BillGuard and Spending Tracker are alternatives if you’re looking to compare.

    5 Easy Steps to Do This Week To Save for Your Dream

    Thursday: Add Up Checking Fees

    You know how on Monday you signed up for that online savings account? The one without fees and decent interest rates? There are banks that also have checking accounts without fees and will pay you interest on your checking account. Tell me: When the last time Wells Fargo paid you money for using its services?

    Log in to your online banking and check out your statements. You know, the ones you barely glance at when they arrive in the mail or your inbox. Are you being charged a monthly maintenance fee? What about fees for using ATMs that aren’t in their network? Can you avoid paying them somehow, whether by being more mindful of ATM use or talking with your banker?

    Often times you can end up paying $20-30 a month for this stuff. That’s more than $300 a year that could go toward your new home. Plus you’d earn interest on it.

    BONUS: Stop paying for these basic services. Consider switching to a checking account with CapitalOne360 or Charles Schwab.

    Friday: Hit the (Fee Free) ATM

    It might sound counterintuitive, but people who carry cash tend to spend less money. So try spending a weekend without using your plastic. Take out what you intend to spend this weekend, whether at the movies, out to dinner or at the home improvement store.

    Remove your credit and debit cards from your wallet and put them in a safe place. If you’re planning on making a big purchase this weekend, keep some of your cash in a safe place too. That way if you hit happy hour and your purse is stolen, you’re not out $500.

    The nice thing about having a cash free weekend is that there’s no financial hangover come Monday when you check your accounts. You also make more conscious spending choices when you’re actually handing over cash. You’ll think twice about buying those cute shoes on Friday since you’d be left with $10 for the rest of the weekend with your gas tank on E.

    There are plenty of ways to save for your dreams and change your spending habits. What’s important to understand is that spending a few minutes each day can really get you far. It’s like putting a few bucks in your savings account each month. It really adds up.

    4 Quick Steps to a Cleaner Home

    4 Quick Steps to a Cleaner Home

    Of all the little things in life, one of my favorites is a clean house. Unfortunately, that means I need to clean in order to keep it that way. When I was younger this meant spending hours on the weekend sweeping, mopping and scrubbing.

    As I got older I decided to take back my weekends, and I would clean only when things looked dirty. The trouble with that was when the sinks needed scrubbing, I was usually stuck working late nights or had about 10 other obligations — cleaning had to wait. And things would get, well, gross.

    4 Quick Steps to a Cleaner Home

    In the last few years I developed a remedy for this: the weekly cleaning schedule. At first it seemed a little militant to do something like this, but after realizing that I could easily keep my house really clean only spending about 20 minutes a day, I decided I didn’t care what it seemed like. It worked, my house was usually clean and I was never embarrassed if someone dropped by uninvited.

    I thought I would share how I came up with my schedule so you can create your own and enjoy the freedom I’ve found in it.

    1. Write down and rate your chores based on time.

    I used a scale of 1 to 3, with three taking the longest. Write down what you normally do when you clean the house. The time rating is based on active time, so for instance you would only count the time you’re actually working on the laundry, not the time it’s in the machine.

    Vacuuming for me takes about 15 minutes, so that would be a three. Cleaning the mirrors take about five, so I would rate it a one. A load of laundry is a two, with sorting and folding taking about 10 minutes. I would group like chores together, so kitchen and bathroom sinks became one chore.

    2. Divide your chores into days — Monday thru Friday.

    Choose chores to do on each day using your ratings. Ideally you’d like each day to have no more than five or six points. So in my example above, I would vacuum and do a load of laundry on one day.

    Another thing to consider is how chores are ordered. Since dusting puts bits of dust on the floor, I do that on Monday and vacuum the dust up on Tuesday. And I mop the day after I vacuum. (Germans vacuum their floors, and I’ve adopted this. It works pretty well.)

    We’ll help you get started.

    3. Try out your schedule and adjust as needed.

    Nothing is certain, of course, until it’s tested. So give it a whirl and see how your days work. Are you doing too much on one day? Is your most hated chore on a day of the week you also dislike? (I would never clean the shower on a Tuesday. That would be cruel and unusual punishment.)

    Move your chores around until you find the right combination. The idea is to spend less than 30 minutes a day cleaning. Obviously this will change depending on how big your home is, if you have kids and what your definition of clean is. Make your schedule fluid until it suits your week.

    Download printable cleaning schedule

    4. Consider a monthly cleaning schedule as well.

    If this method works for you, you’ll have your weekends free from scrubbing or getting your hands dirty. Maybe you won’t miss it. Or you might get inspired to do a few bigger projects you always think about doing but you’ve been just too wiped out doing the regular maintenance cleaning. Like washing the windows. Or wiping down the doorframes and baseboards.

    If you’re feeling ambitious, I suggest making a list of your bigger tasks and putting them on your calendar on a yearly repeating basis. You can spend one weekend day a month doing that chore and know that when it comes around next year, it’ll be a little easier because it’s on a schedule.

    Cleaning doesn’t have to be something that takes up much of our time. In fact, with the right attitude and schedule, it can be a small part of our day that adds up to more comfort and ease in our life.

    Free printable cleaning schedule | 4 Quick Steps to a Cleaner Home