Saturday, November 20, 2010

Working From Home in Any Weather

I was going to title this post "I’m Dreaming of a White . . . Thanksgiving?" but changed my mind. After all, a white Thanksgiving isn’t all that unusual here – we always get our first real snow around turkey time. But waking up to a rising blanket of white (and with Thanksgiving just around the corner) set me to thinking about how thankful I am to work at home. I sure wouldn’t want to be out commuting to a job in this weather, although I did for a lot of years. Just one of the many joys of being a self-employed early retiree! Now if our power stays on, I’m all set for whatever work I choose to do. If the power goes out, I guess it’s hot chocolate by the wood stove.

Actually, as a writer and quilter, I can do several things without power. I enjoy composing with pen and paper part of the time. Although it’s slower and less neat, I often think best with a pen in my hand. Quilt design can be also an electricity-free activity. So while I’d rather the power stay on, if it doesn’t and I’m so inclined, I can still be productive.

Working from Home has Many Advantages

The ability to get to work safely and comfortably despite inclement weather is just one of the advantages of working from home. Setting your own hours, wearing the clothing of your choice and attending to other issues as they arise are others. Whether you need to support your family or just supplement other income, there are a variety of viable work at home options available, my favorite being writing.

Some Work-at-Home Ideas

If you’re interested in pursuing freelance writing but don’t know where to start, check out No Job For Mom – that’s where I found out most of what I know. If other avenues appeal to you, such as online selling, do a ton of research online first. Always type the site, company, or whatever into a search engine with the word "complaint" or "scam" or "review" afterward. And always beware of any offer that sounds too good to be true or requires you to buy something first – for the most part, making money shouldn’t cost you money. Your goal is to be on the paid end of the equation rather than the paying end, right?

In addition to writing online, my other at-home moneymaking ventures include editing for other writers and creating custom memorial quilts, examples of which can be seen on my Custom Memorial Quilts website. These income-producers all grew from my hobbies so think about what it is you like to do and find a way to turn those very things into a work-at-home job.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Time Management is the Key to Accomplishing Goals

When it comes to time management, the advantages and disadvantages of being retired are often the same. A set schedule fosters productivity while lack of a schedule may lead to wasting time. I know when I have lots to do, I generally get it all done but when I don’t have time pressure, I get less accomplished. So for me, developing (and following!) a daily schedule is critical to accomplishing my goals.

Time to Focus!
I’m on a quest to get really focused lately. I’ve been spinning my wheels too long! I recently read a really good eBook which I will review as soon as it’s officially launched. As a result of my reading and the workbook exercises, I’ve clarified what it is that I really want to accomplish in four main areas and am now developing a plan of attack.

To move steadily toward my goals, I plan to get something done in each of four focus areas every day. Currently my four chosen areas are health, organizing, writing and creating. The way I plan to make progress is to schedule at least one small task that moves me toward my goals in each area each day.

Tools for Success
My first tool for success is a printable daily schedule sheet. I made a table with hourly time slots and space to fill in the applicable focus area and specific tasks. Each morning I’ve set aside a half-hour in which to plan my day. I may switch over to evening planning, or a combination of the two as time goes on. Rather than a rigid schedule, what I’m after is a flexible framework to provide structure to my day so that I don’t mindlessly let time slip away.

Olympus Digital Voice Recorder (VN 6200PC)My second tool for success is a digital voice recorder. For me, physical activity inspires random thoughts and I usually get some of my best ideas while stretching or walking. To capture those fleeting thoughts when writing down notes isn’t practical, I keep my voice recorder handy. Interested in trying a digital voice recorder? I recommend Olympus and have provided an Amazon link.

Monday, November 8, 2010

How to Keep Your Unused Credit Cards

Do you have credit cards that you never use? On the one hand, this is good – it means you’re not racking up debt. On the other hand, a significant portion of your credit score is based on how much credit you have available in comparison to how much you’re using. So if you have an unused credit card, the available credit on that account is helping you. If the issuer cancels the unused card, your credit score will suffer.

Does This Apply to Me?
But wait a minute – I have no credit card debt as I use my cards as a convenience only and pay each in full each month. If you're like me, does having an unused credit card cancelled really matter? Actually, it could. Remember – the higher the amount of unused credit you have the better your credit score.

I’ve actually been worrying about this periodically as I have a VISA card that hasn’t been used in many years. It’s through a credit union so I don’t know that I’m in danger of being cancelled but the credit limit on that card is close to one-third of my available credit. Should the card be cancelled, that’s a big hit on my credit-to-debt ratio!

A Simple Solution
Suze Orman addressed this very issue in the November Costco Connection. A gal wrote in about receiving notification that one of her credit cards would be cancelled at the end of the year due to lack of use. Suze’s solution? Contact the card issuer and ask if they’ll keep the card active if it gets used once or twice a month. If so, pay one or two recurring expenses with the card such as the cable bill.

So why don’t I use my credit union issued card currently? Because years ago, every time I got the bill it looked like junk mail and I was afraid I’d toss it accidentally. So I just quit using the card. Fast forward to the present – I’m totally into paperless billing and don't get bills in the mail anymore. I guess it’s time to rethink my credit card usage and maybe use that card for some recurring expense as Suze recommends.