5 New Year’s Resolutions for Busy Families

It somehow seems that modern life is busier than it has ever been. As well as our work and family commitments, there are now so many ways to spend our leisure time; it often feels like 24 hours is simply not long enough to get everything you wanted done in the day.

The problem of being busy all of the time (even though it is a good problem to have) hits those of us who have time-consuming jobs and are also raising a family the hardest. If you fall into this category, you may find it helpful to read the following list of five potential New Year’s resolutions you could make to ensure your 2017 is less stressful than this year may have been!

1) Leave the office on time – Even if it’s only on one or two days a week, it is important that you sometimes put your foot down and leave your place of work as soon as your day is meant to finish. You’ll find that you get much more done in the evenings!

2) Invest in a 2017 calendar – It may sound like a simple step, but that’s sort of the point. Having your work and leisure commitments mapped out for the weeks and months ahead in an easy to view format will allow you to see at a glance just how busy you are and whether you are taking on too much.

3) Spend 10 minutes doing nothing – Again, this is more productive than it sounds! Set your alarm ten minutes earlier every day so that, before you get up, you can spend this extra time in completely undisturbed silence, thinking about what your priorities should be for the day to come.

4) What are your two most important tasks? – Speaking of priorities, it is also a good idea to take a step back from time to time and decide which the two most important jobs are that you wish to accomplish on any given day. This is a great way of clearing your head when you feel overwhelmed.

5) Consider hiring household staff – You may have thought that hiring a nanny or other household staff might be the ‘easy way out’, but this is not the case. Those who have invested in professional assistance of this kind know that hiring a caring and responsible person to help run your busy home is a fantastic way of relieving domestic pressures.

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A Colour Forecast For Spring 2017

Forget the monochrome look, forget restraint. One of the strong trends that we can look forward to in spring 2017 is vibrant colour. Think wacky, age of Aquarius style psychedelia. Many of the looks that will come to the fore in spring of next year are going to be a riot of colour. This is great for those of us who love vibrant shades and are not afraid to stand out from the crowd, though perhaps not so good for shrinking violets or those with a more muted aesthetic.

Tie dye is back and there is something of a resurgence of the hippie fashion aesthetic. For Resort, designers showed a range of tie-dye clothing. Both inner and outerwear items were shown and there was plenty of colour on display, much of it in bold, rich tones that are all about the character and the playful wackiness. Spring summer 2017 could be the time to revisit the Summer of Love. But this psychedelia has a sort of contemporary edge, with bold shapes, geometric designs and a strong line in global multiculturalism that reflects our more connected modern age. The way to wear this multi-coloured extravaganza is definitely to give it some gusto, but also a bit of an edge. Think whimsy but with a slightly harder urban slant.

The key to looking up to date and not like you have been lost and wandering on the hippie trail since the 60s is to choose pieces with a more modern shape when going for rainbow coloured clothes. Mismatched patterns and quirky combos will edge this look into another spring summer 2017 look – the chic geek. The idea is that pretty much anything goes and you should let your freak flag fly, showing your own unusual and unique personality through the way you dress.

This colour extravaganza borrows not only from the pschedelia of the 1960s but also from the colourful aesthetic of Tibet, its woven fabrics, strong patterns and bright colours, all with a slightly spiritual bent. There is also a large dose of inspiration taken from Cuba, a nation opening to the US for the first time in over fifty years and one with a strong culture and tropical aesthetic. Colour inspiration is also taken from the northern Californian coast, rich mid-tone blues and beachy hues mingle in with brighter tropical colours. No matter where you look, the spring summer 2017 trends are all about colour. Developing a really good colour sense and knowing which colours will suit you is the key to looking good and finding your own perfect look for the coming seasons.

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The Last Chance for Gold

Growing up in my corner of Florida, there used to be an old gas station on the edge of the Everglades. The proprietor did a lot of business with his oversized, hand-painted warning sign:

Last Chance for Gas.

Beyond the fuel pumps were a thin two-lane ribbon of asphalt and 90 miles of swampy wilderness. No smartphones. No “emergency call boxes.” And, in most places along the highway, no guardrails either.

You were on your own – much like the economic wilderness we’re all forced to navigate today.

Which is why the sharp decline in gold prices and mining stocks is much like that warning sign… and a monetary gift…

In short, if you were waiting on the sidelines after this year’s monster rally, this is your second chance – and, in my view, your last chance – to buy gold at these prices. And it comes at just the right time. Typical Moves for Gold

Gold’s done a full round trip in buyer sentiment during the past 12 months: from being the world’s “most hated commodity” at its lows near $1,050 an ounce 12 months ago to “gotta buy it” status at $1,350 an ounce this summer.

With gold now fallen from those lofty heights, an investor is more likely to ask: “Gold, what have you done for me lately?”

In all, gold’s given back about 60% of its 2017 rally. Yet such sharp declines followed by a resumption of a broader trend higher is a typical early bull market move for this volatile metal. Most famous of these pullbacks was gold’s run to all-time highs in the 1970s.

Starting out at $35 an ounce in the early ’70s, as gold became legal for Americans to own once again, bullion prices soared to almost $190 an ounce in 1975. That’s quite a run all on its own. During the next 18 months, gold prices dropped back nearly 60%, falling to $100 before running to a then-record $800 an ounce in the next three and a half years.

The Song Remains the Same

Most important, when it comes to the companies that dig this stuff out of the ground… nothing has changed.

As I have pointed out in past months, gold mining firms have done a great job getting their costs down and making money to boot.

We noted as early as February that the elite companies in this group were making an average of $215 for every ounce of gold they were digging out of the ground and said, in no uncertain terms, to anyone who’d listen: “Stop panic selling gold mining stocks. Likewise, after cutting dividends in 2014 and 2015 as gold prices plummeted, many of the same companies have not only reinstituted payouts, they’ve started raising them again. In the meantime, mining firms have cleared away much of their old cost structures. That’s why Newmont Mining, as one example, has been able to drop its “AISC” – all-in sustaining costs – from $1,170 in 2012 to $910 so far in 2016.

The point is that there are many reasons to own gold: for speculative profits, as discussed above; for insurance; and for wealth preservation. But you can’t benefit from any of those strategies without taking advantage of the gift that is low gold prices and low expectations put on our table by Wall Street’s hair-trigger traders.

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Stay Healthy and Wealthy

When you make those New Year’s resolutions, you’re thinking about fresh starts and the year ahead. What you might not realize is that some resolutions also could save money. Here are some popular resolutions that could help get you and your finances in shape in 2017.

Quit smoking: You can save money by stopping a pack-a-day habit, which can cost between $1,825 and $3,650 per year, depending on the cost of cigarettes in your area. Nationally, a pack-a-day smoker is going to spend an average of $2,000 annually on cigarette costs.

Set up and stick to a realistic budget: If you want to resolve to stick to a budget in 2017, you must start with a realistic plan. People tend to make financial resolutions the same way they do a weight loss plan. If you start with lofty goals they will be unachievable within a month. List your priorities for spending rather than restricting your spending. Focus on necessary expenses then include a certain amount for retirement savings. Then with the remaining money you have each month, set aside a little for enjoyment. It’s critical you have rewards in your budget.

Exercise regularly: You’ll save money in several ways with regular exercise. On average, Americans are spending $7,800 annually on health care, according to the National Association of Health Underwriters. But exercise brings real savings. “If people are eating right and exercising three times a week for 20 minutes a day, they see prescription costs decrease by 70 percent and medical costs decrease by 30 percent,” says Ric Edelman of Edelman Financial Services. Stop spending money recklessly: One of the best ways to stop spending your money recklessly is to track where it is going each month. Check with your credit union and download their free mobile budgeting app that shows expenditures by category so you can monitor your spending. A great way to get your spending under control is quit trying to “keep up with the Joneses”. If you want to fix your bad spending habits in 2017 start hanging out with other spendthrifts because you will likely become one yourself.

Eat healthier: A healthy eating plan can be as — or more — economical than fast food. It’s a total myth that eating healthy is expensive. Buy smaller but leaner cuts of meat, eat protein-rich beans and buy produce in season when it’s freshest and least expensive. A smaller amount of a leaner cut can slice your food bill and your bad cholesterol.

Build an emergency fund: Nothing takes the stress out of financial situation like spare cash. If you are among the millions of Americans that don’t have enough money set aside to cover unexpected expenses or emergencies, then you should resolve to build one in 2017. Experts recommend putting enough money in a savings account to cover six months’ worth of expenses in case of unexpected emergencies like job loss, maternity leave or medical issues. You can always apply a small amount of your paycheck towards this account, so you make sure it is hidden from you.

Pay off high-interest debt: Paying down credit card debt is one of the most popular short-term goals in 2017. Try focusing on paying off your high-interest credit card debt before other debts because it is more expensive. And, it you are motivated by seeing those results first hand, start by paying off your card with the lowest balance first so you can feel that sense of accomplishment. Create your estate plan: An important 2017 resolution would be to tie up any financial loose ends for your loved ones so they aren’t left trying to pick up the pieces. Make sure you have a will or trust that designates who’s in control of your assets. You certainly don’t want the state court system to make that decision for you. Don’t forget to designate a guardian for your children, and someone who will make financial and healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so.

Develop common financial goals with your partner: Many times finances are the biggest source of conflict between couples. It’s important that couples sit down and create a financial plan. It doesn’t usually work to try and manage their finances separately.

Any of these resolutions can help improve your financial security in 2017. I suggest tackling one financial tip each month so you don’t get overwhelmed. Then as you get accustomed to the new approach to spending and saving, add another. By the time 2017 starts dwindling toward 2018, you will find you’ve made progress on achieving your financial goals.

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Think Outside the Marketing Box: 10 Quick, New Ideas for 2017

The holidays are upon us again. It’s the time of year for good cheer and some creative marketing ideas to end your year right.

If you’ve been in a marketing slump through the fall, try a few new and interesting ways to get a little more business for your small business:

  1. Create a personalized calendar to gift your clients. You can include inspirational quotes or advice for each month. Staying in front of them will solidify your brand in their minds for years and years to come.
  2. Give your customers a small gift of appreciation, like a customized sticky screen cleaner or promo handout. If you happen to give something that is useful and is well made, your customers won’t just thank you, they will be more interested in giving you referrals to other potential clients. Offer gift cards to give customers more flexibility for gifts. Be sure to place them near your checkout to encourage impulse buys. Starbucks or Amazon gift cards tend to be consistently well received.
  3. Take clients to a more personal lunch or brunch instead of throwing a larger, impersonal holiday party. Focus on having a good time and building rapport through not talking about business. They will take the gesture and thank you by becoming your biggest cheerleader.
  4. Host a day with Santa at your business where you provide free photos with the jolly old man. If your target market has kids, this will be a huge hit.
  5. Give holiday shoppers a free shoulder massage by hiring a masseuse for a few hours.
  6. Partner with other local businesses to give a package of coupons in each shopping bag. This is also a way to encourage sharing business ideas with your neighbors or setting up referral incentives with them.
  7. Sponsor a local event. This time of year many run clubs and other organizations hold holiday runs or New Year’s Day resolution runs or other events. Pick one you enjoy and sponsor it to get your name out. Pair with a local charity. Schedule an event where you and your staff volunteer with the organization. Offer discounts to your customers who volunteer their time with the same organization.
  8. Hold a customer appreciation sale during hours when you are normally closed to show your customers how much you appreciate their loyalty. Create a special invitation and think about giving them door prizes and small gifts for patronizing your business.
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