Thursday, December 29, 2011

Do the Hard Thing: Budget

I've worked in Political Communications for about a decade now. For all of those 10 years, I've heard politicians use one line when they discuss unpopular budget cuts:

"The economy is rough. Every family is sitting at their kitchen table right now, making cuts to their family budget. We are called to be financially responsible, too."

I completely agree with the sentiment. Government should spend, at a minimum, what they bring in but should also really only spend what they need and return the rest to taxpayers.

However, how many families are really tightening their budget? How many have a budget?

Many conservatives like to say the debt Washington politicians have accumulated is "passing debt to our grandchildren." Personal debt may be even worse. You're mortgaging your future dreams for your current passing fancy.

Ten years from now, I may decide that my life long dream is to open a restaurant, open a business, or move to Colorado. By then, I may be able to travel to the moon. When I decide what those dreams are, I want to be in the financial situation to make them happen.

If you're struggling with personal finance, now is the time to take control. Remember, spending more than you take in is only spending your future.

Personal Finance Tools:
Mint.com
LearnVest.com (Love their boot camps!)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Is engagement all that matters?

I've worked in social media marketing at Newsblasters for about a year now. Our company focuses on political candidates and non-profits, but we have picked up some traditional business clients as well.

To be on social media, you have to have something to say. After all, your fans and followers won't visit your page often and you have to show up in their timeline. We help our clients produce daily content so they are heard.

If you keep up with social media discussion, you know there's a lot of focus on engagement. Do people "like" what you say? Do people re-tweet it? Are they leaving glowing comments about you? Yes, social media should be a conversation and should encourage familiarity with your brand.

But does that make you successful?

I use social media mainly for information. To keep up with the news or politics, to stay abreast of social media developments, the Braves and a little gossip and jokes, too. However, I don't interact with every post I see, even the ones that I find interesting or compelling.

A recent study found that Twitter accounts with more than 1,000 followers engage less than accounts with fewer followers. They have more followers, which indicates some level of success, but they're not really cultivating relationships with their followers. Their followers are interested in the information, not looking for a friend.

I'm not arguing that we should discount all forms of engagement and ignore the people that follow us. But, there is value in broadcasting your message via social media, even if you're not dedicating resources to engaging. Unfortunately, it's more difficult to measure.

Updated Cookbook

Head on over to my cookbook page for a bunch of updated recipes. Let me know what you make and how it turns out!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Education and Necessary Skills

There's a lot of debate over public education and it received a lot of media coverage. With so much at stake, it makes sense. In Georgia, school funding has been a big issue over the last few years. Georgia also made a controversial decision to change the high school math curriculum that the new superintendent has promptly undone.

Steve and I don't have kids but I've recently given a lot of thought to a subject missing from our schools. Why don't we teach kids responsible personal finance?

It's a subject that I've recently found interesting. Earlier this year, I picked up Dave Ramsey's book which convinced me that I needed to finally start budgeting. I'm glad I started when I did because I was able to save a few grand that eventually went to help a family member in need. Now, Steve and I have established financial goals, I've become coupon crazy and I devour all kinds of personal finance news and advice.

I wish I would have started earlier. I'm curious to know where I would be if I'd started at 22 instead of 27.

Our economy has suffered significantly as families collapsed under debt. It started with the housing bubble and many believe student loan debt will soon cause more problems. Wouldn't it make sense to teach our kids how to live within their means and what to do with their eventual wealth?

The Girl Scouts rolled out new badges a few weeks ago, which include Good Credit, Money Manager, Budgeting and Financing My Future. Bravo to this organization for teaching girls the skills they need to really be successful today. I hope our schools take their lead because, at the end of the day, personal finance success is a skill we all need.