Taking a Look at Your Finances

Have you ever sat down and taken a good hard look at your finances? I’m not just talking balancing the checkbook. I mean every single part of your finances. If you’ve never thought about it before – you should now. Think of it as a way to see where you are and where you are going. You could be surprised.Start by simply writing down what your financial goals are. Do this without looking at your checkbook or savings accounts. Simply list what is important to you financially. This could be saving for retirement, paying off your debt or even working on a college savings fund for your children.Now look at you checkbook, savings, budgeting (or lack of) and other financial accounts to see if you are on the right track. See how much debt you have paid off in the last year. If you haven’t been paying more than the minimum payments, you aren’t getting anywhere. You can really see this if you compare this monthly statement to last year’s monthly statement for your credit cards.Or perhaps you do see that your investment accounts have grown appropriately. But maybe you’ve been putting too much into your children’s college funds and not enough into your retirement savings. Calculate how much you will need at retirement and assess whether or not you are on the right track.Take the time to sit down and look over all of your insurance policies. Over time, many personal insurance needs change. It may be that you no longer need maternity coverage on your health insurance. Or perhaps you need to increase your term life insurance policy. Look at your homeowner’s insurance to see if you need to increase the personal property coverage or even the coverage amount on the home itself. Having the correct coverage can save you a lot of heartache and money in the case of an emergency or disaster.Look at the changes in your life. Perhaps you’ve had a child or changed jobs. How do these events affect your money? You may need to change your budget, your savings or your investments.Make sure that your finances are well protected. Everyone, whether or not they have children, should have a will. Review it regularly and update it as you have children or purchase long-term, big-ticket items.Review your investments and make sure that they are performing as you need them and expect them to. As you grow older, you need to adjust the diversification of your investments to reflect a more conservative tactic. When reaching retirement, you don’t want to take any unnecessary risks with your money.You should give your finances a complete checkup once or twice a year. The more you do it, the more you will see. Regular reviews of your finances also reinforce the importance of your goals. You will be less tempted to spend and motivated to save more for those things you want.

Beginning Photography Tips – A Few Basic Tips For Taking Digital Photography

My first tip for taking digital photography for anyone whether they are beginning, or have some degree of experience is “don’t be frightened of your camera”. Get used to handling your camera so that you feel comfortable with it. Make sure you know where all the controls are, and familiarise yourself with their functions. This is one of the basic beginning photography tips that often gets overlooked as it is such an obvious one.Once you are comfortable handling your digital camera and have learned how to use all the controls and functions, my next tip for taking digital photography is to take lots and lots of pictures. The beauty of digital photography is that you do not need to keep every picture that you take. You are not paying for a long processing sequence like you would be if you were using a camera that uses rolls of film, so you can be a lot more extravagant when it comes to taking pictures. Plus you may just take a prize winning photo purely by chance, and any photos you don’t want you can simply delete.Another of the basic beginning photography tips that people often forget is to hold the camera steady. Again this may sound pretty obvious but it’s surprising just how many of us forget this simple little tip when we rush to get a good photo. It is important to actually practice holding the camera so that you automatically steady it for every picture that you take. How often have you seen the chance of a great picture only to rush it and ruin the shot? It’s far better to get one or two great pictures than dozens of blurred or poor quality ones.My next tip is to always make sure that you have enough memory capacity on your digital camera. There is nothing worse than coming across something that would make a great picture only to find that you have no more room on your camera. Get into the habit of going through the photos stored on your camera on a regular basis, and deleting the ones you don’t want, and downloading and storing the ones you do want onto your computer, or have them printed off. Also buy a second card for your camera so that you always have a spare one with you just in case you need it.Once you have got this far you should have loads of photos that you have taken, now is the time to study these and see if there is room for improvement. Maybe some of them are still coming out slightly blurred, so you will need to pay attention to your focusing. Remember that a digital camera has a tendency to take a little longer to focus when compared to a camera that uses roll film.Maybe you are not happy with the lighting on some of your pictures, so try practising using the flash. The flash on a camera is not only designed to be used when taking photos indoors, it is also great for getting good sharp pictures outside as well, especially if the subject is in shade or if the natural light is low, like in the late evening.I suppose that one of the most important beginning photography tips that I can give you is to “get out there and have some fun with your camera”. Take loads of photos and practice as you go. Use your camera as often and as much as you can. My last little tip would to be to get hold of a good book on digital photography, this way you will get all the tips for taking digital photography and learn all the usual mistakes to avoid right from the start.

The Simple Way To Market Any Business

You’ve no doubt heard about the K.I.S.S. principle – “Keep it simple, Stupid.” Or as I like to say… “keep it simple, silly.”K.I.S.S. has been around the block a few times. In fact, it was a design principle noted by the US Navy in the 1960s.The phrase was coined by aircraft engineer Kelly Johnson. It’s nice to note that Johnson was the lead engineer at the Lockheed Skunk Works (creators of the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 spy planes).Though the acronym has been used mostly by the US military, namely the U.S. Navy and United States Air Force, civilians, businesses and lots of other groups use it too.Heck, I bet you’ve used it a few times yourself.We all tend to over complicate things, including myself.But I prefer simple any day and twice on Sunday. When tackling any problem, my number one rule is to start with the simple basics first (is the power on? Is the lamp is plugged into the electrical outlet?)And you’d be amazed at how effective the simple way of doing things can be. After all, you can always complicate the hell out of things later, if you like.You’ll be pleased to learn “simple” also works in marketing your biz too! Truth be told, simple has taken me a long, long way in the marketing of my business.Let me explain… The Three Pillars Of Good MarketingOK. Let’s break this down into, you know, simple terms. You can easily and simply market any product or service if you examine the 3 pillars of marketing.But before I go into details, I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. While, I’d love to think that I’m a marketing and advertising whizz, truth be told, I’m scratching the surface here.What I have learned came from the true geniuses of the game. The guys who figured it out and have been in the marketing trenches for decades.With that said, what you’re about to learn came from marketing top-gun Dan Kennedy. I recommend that you get your hands on any books, programs or live events he puts on. It’s nothing less than pure gold.OK. On with the show. The pillars of good marketing are:MessageMarketMediaLet’s talk briefly about each one.Pillar 1. Message. This is the “what” you say to your prospects or clients. It’s the communication part of the equation of good marketing. If you get this wrong, then your efforts won’t necessarily fail but will suffer greatly in terms of results and sales.Keep in mind, even if you have a great message and you shoot it to the wrong market, it’s going to land upon deaf ears. And you’re wasting marketing bullets… time, money and other resources.Pillar 2. Market. The is the “who” you want to sell to. It’s the group of people most likely to be interested and willing buy your stuff. These are the prospects you are communicating with and who will receive your sales messages (sales letters, print ads, landing pages etc.)So, your mission is to match your message to the correct market using the correct media.As you know privacy is essentially dead these days. So, getting the names and addresses for nearly any target market is a fairly simple process.Mailing lists comes in all shapes and sizes today. If you know what market you want to go after, you’re likely to find a list. It’s just a matter of contacting a list broker and describing who you’re looking for.For example, If you are looking for people who are at least 7 feet tall, drive a BMW, live in South Carolina and subscribe to Psychology Today, you can get that list. It may not be a very large list, but nevertheless it still exists.Pillar 3. Media. This the delivery system. It’s the vehicle that your message rides in. Think: magazines, newspapers, newsletters, social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and list goes on forever it seems.The best way to select which media to use, starts with the market. Are you targeting folks over the age of 65? There’s a good chance they do not use social media as a primary medium.Yes, they very well may have a Facebook account, but this is not their main means of communicating or staying in touch with others.They do read the local paper and use their cell phone regularly. They probably listen to the radio and watch TV.But the only way to truly know is to ask your clients and prospects.How To Target Your MarketOne popular way that business owners use to target their market is by geographic.Using geographic marketing you choose your market based on a specific location, for example, businesses within a 10-mile radius. This is a very simple way to choose your targets but it’s like dropping flyers out of a plane and hoping one lands with the right person.Yes, a bit of an exaggeration but with a few simple tweaks, you can make your geographic marketing more effective. And you can do this by using…… Demographic targeting. Demographic targeting is selecting people by age, gender, how much money they have, whether they are conservative or liberal, or what religion they are, single or married and so on.Next, you have psychographics. Psychographics deals customer behavior, attitudes, interests and lifestyles. It’s useful when segmenting your market. This can be very powerful (and effective). Plus, it allows you to customize your marketing messages based on whatever market segment you are going after.Hey, you could combine all three. And many of the cloud based programs, such as Adobe Marketing Cloud, Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketing 360 and more do just that. You could also check some of the open source solutions.Again, you don’t have to get all “techie” just be sure you have details such as their contact info, and carefully track how much they spend, what they buy and how often. Simple with Excel.Of course, I could go way deep into this topic, but staying the “simple” approach, suffice to say keep good customer lists, learn what your prospects and clients want and become the “go-to” company that fills their needs.So, the next time you start a new marketing campaign, consider the ideas presented here. If you are tired of dumping big bucks down the advertising toilet and you’d like more profitable results, then I encourage you to give me a shout. Do you have questions about this article or would like to see a subject covered? Again, just shoot me a line. I’m always happy to help.Yours for higher response,Emette E. Massey