Money Matters

Growing up, my parents did not discuss money with their children. They saw themselves as responsible for their five children, to be certain. They worked hard to ensure that they met their obligations to us, for sure. But, they did not have conversations with us about how money was earned, budgeted, or dispersed.

We understand why parents do this. Most parents want their children to be children. They want their children to grow up without the anxiety of knowing how the adult world operates. But, by doing this, parents fail their children. We miss out on providing their children with the most important education piece of their lives. The education about how money matters.

After all, not everyone will need to understand the complexity of the pythagorean theorem or how to play the violin. But, everyone needs to know how to manage their money and plan for their financial future. The lessons we teach our children about money will help improve their chances of success and happiness in the world. Here are a few lessons that are helpful for our children to learn…

The Importance of Money

In my opinion, the first and most crucial lesson our children need about money is its importance. We must educate our children that MONEY IS IMPORTANT because it is required in order to live in this world. But, we must also inform them that MONEY IS NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD.

There is a crucial balance in this lesson. We want children to learn that they must work hard to achieve their goals. But, we must also help them learn that simply earning money is not the goal itself. We need to teach them balance. We need them to learn that ambition can become greed.

What’s more, we must teach them that not everyone has had the same education about money as they have. We must teach them that others will value their money more than they value them. We must educate them to be generous but not someone else’s ATM.

The Importance of Budgeting

Children are insatiable. They want everything and they want it now. We must teach them to balance their immediate desires for things with the needs that they will need in the future.

There are several ways we can teach them about budgeting. Some parents provide children with some money that they must then budget. But, without teaching them the valuable lesson of earning money, they do not learn the importance of working for what they have.

Another difficulty of this lesson is that we do not really know what our future needs are. We assume that things will always be as they now are. But, there is just no guarantee of that. Children have that same difficulty. To them, the idea of growing up is not equated with the idea of growing old. They do not envision themselves as older and incapable of earning money. Truth be told, there are some adults who fail to grasp this concept. For that reason, many fail to plan for things like retirement or disability. But, giving a child some education on this will increase their likelihood of successful long-term planning.

The Importance of Charity

Finally, an important lesson that we are failing to teach our children is the need for charity in the world.

While I do think that it is crucial to teach children that others should not use them (I’m thinking gold-digging significant others), I nonetheless believe that for our planet to improve we must push for a spirit of charity in our children. One way that you can do this is by forcing your children to filter through their clothes and toys for the purpose of giving items away. An important component is to resist letting them sell items. As they get older, teach children to give their time to a cause and finally teach them to set aside a percentage of their income to give to charity.

By inculcating children on the importance of budgeting, charity, and money, we can further enhance their education to create the type of society that this world needs and deserves.

WHAT ARE IMPORTANT LESSONS YOU THINK CHILDREN NEED ABOUT MONEY?

Are You An Entrepreneur?

There are people who believe that it would be luxurious to never have to work. They dream of spending days free of responsibilities.

Then there is a different type of person. They recognize that their key to happiness is not to be free from obligation. Instead, their happiness is derived from creation, nurturing, and growth. This is the person who wants to see a vision come to fruition.

This is the entrepreneur!

But beyond being the person who takes on the financial risks and legal responsibilities of starting and running a business, entrepreneurs are people who have a vision for a different future. But, bringing a vision to fruition can be taxing and time-consuming. It requires understanding several things about yourself and your business. If you want to become an entrepreneur, there are five things you need to consider.

Ideas Matter

An entrepreneur without ideas is not an entrepreneur. After all, before you can start a business, you must have an idea of the type of business you wish to have. If you are interested in being an entrepreneur but you are not clear on the type of business you want, use the following list to help you get started:

  • What am I good at? (To have a business, you must have a basis of understanding in the business, ergo, you must have some competence in the area of business.)
  • What do I enjoy doing? (It is not enough to be good at something, you have to enjoy doing it.)
  • How much time will I need to take this concept from idea to executable concept?
  • Who do I know in this field that can serve as a mentor? (Remember, questions are going to come up that you will need to ask someone.)

The idea you have does not have to be revolutionary. You can take a simple idea and turn it into a very successful business. But you have to start developing your idea.

Execution Matters

Entrepreneurship requires starting with a big concept and making it a reality. It means not stopping until you have achieved your desired outcome. Many people get overwhelmed by this. I know I did. At the end of 2020, my husband and I created a retail CBD and smoke shop. When we first got into the building we rented, I was overwhelmed. The space was previously leased by a head shop and the entire space was painted in black!

We renovated it using the colors white and lavender (Party Hat by Behr.) Have you ever tried to paint over black? It was not easy. It took significant time and money. We had no choice but to do the work, one paint stroke at a time. If we had failed at this critical point then we would have not gotten it off the ground. We would not have been able to open the doors on December 12th; so we hustled until the work was done and then celebrated with a grand opening party.

But, that was not the only challenge we encountered. From the moment we conceived the idea, it was a series of moments where execution was critical. Have the concept? Decide on a name for your business. Have a name? Secure the website. Have a website? Decide on marketing ideas.

It keeps going and going. The execution never stops.

Money Matters

A sad reality of entrepreneurship is that money does matter. The old adage that states that you “need money to make money” is an old adage for a reason. You will need to have some seed money to start the business you endeavor. Here are some places where money will need to be spent as you start your business:

  • Business formation (registering your business with your state, trademarking a logo, etc.);
  • Business marketing (purchasing a domain, doing your own website or hiring someone to do your website, preparing and creating signage, flyers, loyalty cards, etc.)
  • Business basics (leasing or buying a location, purchasing products, hiring employees, basic hardware, and point of sale software); and,
  • Business management (employee training, bookkeeping services, and general tax issues.)

There are a large number of places where you can spend money on your business. But, by determining what things you can and do enjoy doing, you may be able to save yourself some money.

Planning Matters

You will notice that in this article, planning comes after execution. But, this is the only time that it will. Planning is what helps you take your idea to full concept. Planning will help you ensure you have a roadmap for your idea’s success. It will help you create reasonable timelines and it will help you budget correctly. In fact, planning is the piece that ties all of the others together.

While it is true that not everyone is great at planning, there are some things that you can do to help you in the planning phase.

Time Matters

Of all of the things that you need as an entrepreneur, the most important is time. After all, you cannot start and grow a business unless you are willing to put time into your business. You must nurture your business every step of the way.

An important caveat, you should not be the only one working your business. For example, if your entrepreneurial concept is a restaurant, you cannot be chef, waiter, dishwasher, and front of house all at once.

If you try to be the jack of all trades, you will end up being the master of none. But, if you select one piece of the business that you can do exceptionally well and hire others to do the other things, you can success. For that reason, I recommend that you devote your time to the things that you a)enjoy and are good at, and b) will help you level up your business. The other things should be delegated.

What words of advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

2020: Made to See

20/20 was previously associated in my mind with perfect vision. Prior to 2019, I longed for the clarity that the number brought.

But after the year that was last year, I know see 2020 as the Christmas Carol of years. The ghosts of America’s Christmas past (slavery/racism), present (pandemic), and future (climate change), came into the forefront.

And, much like Ebenezer in the well-known tale, we have an opportunity to turn this shit around. The forewarning should be heeded. This is the impetus for us engage in best practices.

Anti-racism

I am not trying to pretend that I am an expert in anything. So please do not take my tips as anything more than well-meaning suggestions. To work on your own thinking the best thing you can do is look for content from various mediums.

One of the things that I do to break my own stereotyped or unbalanced thinking is to read. So try it. Read books about how to combat racism or that re-educate prior thinking. I also seek out documentaries and positive films. Watch movies that highlight the potential of people of races other than your own. And most importantly, think before you speak. Force yourself to think differently. Be kind. Be sensitive. Don’t joke about people’s differences. Look at others as fully realized people. Don’t make assumptions about other people.

Pandemic

I don’t foresee my life returning to the “pre-pandemic” normal. No. I have learned too much. Instead, I see myself adopting new practices that were learned in 2020 to maintain my health. First, masks. It goes without saying that I will continue to wear masks and socially distance until I complete the round of vaccines. I encourage all to do so. But, even after that I will continue to incorporate them into daily life. I intend to wear masks out in public anytime I feel under the weather. I do not intend to return to the practice of shaking hands. Most importantly, I intend to maintain the practice of being grateful and kind to all front line workers.

Climate Change

Although climate change always feels monumentally large, remember that everyone must make changes in their behavior to improve our planet’s health. During the lockdown that started in March, the planet saw small improvements to the carbon emissions. This was a surprising benefit of the pandemic. But, it did encourage me to think more about the planet’s nonhuman inhabitants. I placed food receptacles out for squirrels and birds in my backyard. I have continued that practice into the winter. I have had the benefit of seeing bluejays and cardinals even into December.

Of course, feeding a few small creatures is not enough. Other things that I am trying to do are using my vehicle less and being less wasteful. Other opportunities that we can all take include: buying local products to reduce your carbon footprint, donating to worthwhile causes, and participating in waterway or roadside cleanups. Plus, the most important thing we can all do is encourage corporations whose products we buy to make more environmentally conscious choices. After all, it is corporations that are the biggest contributors to climate change.

Invest In You

2020 has been a year fraught with stress and surprises. One thing that has been helpful to me has been to focus inward.

For years, I promised myself that I would become fluent in four languages before I die. It is a bucket list goal that I have nurtured since youth. In high school, I studied French. I learned a great deal from my one year of study. In years later, I maintained my knowledge through different techniques. But, I was far from fluent.

A few years ago, my husband and I traveled to the Dominican Republic. There, we met and connected with a couple from Brazil. Although neither of them knew English, I was able to communicate with them by speaking in Spanish. And, my Spanish speaking skills somehow facilitated my ability to understand their Portuguese.

Fast forward to the pandemic lockdown in March and April; I decided to pursue an item from my bucket list. I began to learn a foreign language, Portuguese, with Duolingo.

My language practice became very important to me. I appreciated the consistency that this program has given me during these last few months. And, I am happy to finally be working towards a long-time goal. I do believe that my Portuguese-speaking skills have been aided by my prior knowledge of Spanish. Nonetheless, my progress has been substantial. I am able to comprehend a large amount of Portuguese. More importantly, I am finding great joy in my studies.

If you are interested in investing in yourself, consider the following:

Invest Money

I have paid for a Duolingo membership. I practice 10-30 minutes each day. This program gives me a solid base on which I am building daily. But, there are applications that I have already been paying for that I can now use to enhance my language skills. I am watching Portuguese movies on Netflix and other streaming services.

Invest time

As stated above, I work on my language skills about 10 to 30 minutes daily. However, there are other ways that I invest time on my new language skills. I have enjoyed watching Brazilian programs on streaming networks. When I do use a TV show or movie to “study” I do two things. I watch the same movie twice. I read it with Portuguese subtitles and English language. Then, I watch with Portugues dubbing and English subtitles.

I listen to podcasts on Apple. The programs run between nine to twenty minutes. They are great commuting material. However, it is a good idea to go back and listen to the podcast one more time. I like to stop the podcast to practice with the podcaster. It gives me another opportunity to improve.

Another way in which I invest a little time is by reading Portuguese magazines, newspapers, and websites. Even 5 to 10 minutes daily of this type of reading, once or twice per week improves my language comprehension.

Invest in People

Of course, no language skill can be complete without investing in speaking and social opportunities. After all, the purpose of acquiring a new language is to increase your ability to connect with other humans. I have had it a little easier than most in this department. One of my co-workers speaks Portuguese. As such, I am able to engage in light conversation with him.

In time, I will need to actively create more speaking opportunities for myself. At that point, I foresee scheduling coffee talks with my colleague in person. Additionally, I have a Brazilian friend that I want to engage with remotely via Zoom.

I hope you will excuse my language-laden post. But, I promise you can apply the ideas that I shared here to any goal you may have. Once you decide to invest in yourself, your next step is to decide how you will invest your time and money into this goal. And, if you need someone to brainstorm, hit me up in the comments. I would love to help you create a plan.

The truth is that you are worth investing time, money and attention. You can start today by asking yourself…

How will you invest in you?

Power of the Pocketbook

I am not someone who loves to shop. But, I will shop for good causes. I will buy items from friends who are in direct sales. I will stop at a roadside stand to support a local business person. I shop the small businesses in my town whenever I can. And… I am the person who will not go to a place if that business does not align with my belief system.

Case in point…

For years, I have avoided places like Hobby Lobby and Chick Fil A because I do not like the causes that they support. I do not hate on them. But, I will never volunteer to go to these places. In fact, if others suggest I will politely decline. I simply say, “I do not patronize that business.” I just do not make a big showing of it.

Now, I want to make a big showing of it.

On July 8th, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Trump administration regulation that allows businesses to opt out of providing their employees (through health insurance) free birth control. Businesses are permitted to do this if they have “religious and moral objections.”

Prior to this administration’s regulation update, an Obamacare mandate required company health insurance policies to cover birth control. As a result, millions of Americans had access to free contraceptives. Now, thanks to this SCOTUS decision, those same people will now incur out of pocket costs for their contraceptive care.

When I heard about this case, I was disappointed. This is just one of many cases where I see companies putting their needs above their employees. I am tired of seeing companies litigate against their employees best interests. It seems as though companies only want to look at their bottom line.

But, I think consumers have tremendous power to make companies reconsider how they treat their employees. I ask each of you to recognize the incredible power of your pocketbook. By publicly voicing our dissatisfaction and committing to avoiding businesses that litigate against their employees’ best interest, we use our power.

This is not a new idea. Delores Huerta and the farm workers union used such a similar technique by encouraging Americans to boycott grapes. This technique has proven successful. Additionally, thanks to social media and corporate presence on those same website, consumers have more voice now than ever with American businesses. So now the piece remaining is you. Start using the power of your pocketbook at businesses that promote their employees’ best interests.

How do you use the power of your pocketbook?