Work/Life Balance

4 Tips for Setting a Personal Budget

Save Money at WorkFor many, the word “budget” is a negative term often compared to a diet in the way that you have to give up things you love. A personal budget is a plan to help you build a solid foundation of financial wellness so you can do and have the things you want without hurting your financial future. At the core of budgeting, there is one common principle—track all of your expenses to see where your money is going.

After tracking your expenses, you may realize that you are spending more than you’re making. Draw a line between your wants and needs. Remember living within your means can keep you from drowning in debt.

Keep it simple

1.  Outline your financial goals.

Are you saving to purchase a car or house, pay off debt, or save for a vacation? Be specific on how much you need to save and how long it will take to achieve your overall goal. This should help you plan how much to save monthly. Make sure your goals are achievable.

2.  Track Your Income and Spending

The main idea of a budget is help you spend less than you’re bringing in. To get started, list your income and monthly expenses. Keep track of all your expenses, everything from your morning cup of coffee to property taxes to see where the money is going. Remember, expenses like your mortgage or car payment likely won’t change over time, however expenses like your electric bill can vary depending on the time of year.

3.  Identify Ways to Save

Develop a wants-and-needs list to help identify where to start trimming your spending. Most financial experts recommend earmarking 40% of your earnings for necessities such as housing and utilities and 10% in an interest-bearing account or a tax-favored 401(K) plan. Look for creative ways to save, for example make coffee at home instead of spending $4 a day; $20 a week, or $80 a month. Remember small savings can add up to a huge surplus.

4.  Stick To It

  • Review your budget on a regular basis.
  • Stay focused on your goals.
  • Be sure that the budget accurately reflects your spending and be prepared to make additional adjustments.

A surplus in your monthly budget is right around the corner and puts you one step closer to achieving your overall goal.

Do you have tips for setting and sticking to a personal budget? Let us know in the comment section!

A Guide to Declaring Freedom From Your Job

break_free_quit_job_webOf course, we all want to find that perfect job that makes us happy, pays the bills, and offers a lifetime’s worth of job security. Unfortunately, those jobs are often hard to find. Author Seth Godin explains that there is a difference between a “dip” and a “cul-de-sac” when it comes to your job. Dips are really difficult periods of time that are full of opportunity to be the best. Cul-de-sacs, on the other hand, are periods where repeated effort and time only lead you back to the same spot.

If you’re struggling with your current job and it doesn’t seem like anything you try is going to make it better, consider the following tips on recognizing when it’s time to move on and break free from your job.

Assess your on-the-job happiness.
It’s important to find enjoyment out of what you do. Feeling accomplished when you complete a project or knowing that your work is benefiting someone else can help you stay happy on the job. But, if you’re not experiencing those feelings, it may be time to cut ties. If you absolutely dread going to work, so much so that you’re sick or find yourself depressed, do what’s best for you and try to find a job that will make you much happier.

Recognize your worth.
When it comes to proper recognition at work, there are a few ways you may be getting the short end of the stick. If you find out your employer is paying you far less than the market rate for your job, and professional discussions about raises and promotions aren’t resulting in any adjustments to your pay, there’s a good chance your current employer isn’t going to offer you more pay any time soon. If that’s important to you, you may want to shop around for other work.

Determine your supervisor’s level of support.
Likewise, feeling recognized by your supervisor is important to your overall job satisfaction. If you run into challenges at work, does your supervisor support you? Do you feel comfortable telling them about your challenges? According to Dale Austin, director of the Career Development Center at Hope College, “If you’re constantly experiencing problems with your manager, it might be a signal to look elsewhere.”

Evaluate your career path.
Do you have a set path for your career? Is advancement in a company a high priority for your work life? If you have big plans to move up in the company but there is little chance of advancement, it may be time to reconsider your position. Even if you love where you work, you may be missing opportunities to grow your skills if you’re stuck in the same role. “After you’ve learned all you can in your position, it is best to move on to a place that offers a clear path to work your way up,” said Chaz Pitts-Kyser, author of Careeranista: The Woman’s Guide to Success After College.

Go out on a positive note.
If you decide that breaking free from your job is the best step for your career, there are right and wrong ways to quit. Offering your workplace a two-week notice is customary, so try to give your supervisor advance notice that you plan to leave. You may need to train your replacement or tidy up loose ends on projects. Also, make sure you tell your supervisor that you’ve decided to resign before you tell anyone else. You don’t want your boss hearing the news from a gossip chain instead of directly from you. Remember to be thankful for the job and express gratitude to your employer, even if you’re excited to be leaving. You may have gained skills, experience, or friendships that will last far beyond the job, so be grateful for the things that did go well.

Before you decide it’s time to quit, try resolving your issues with your supervisor first. If pay is an issue, talk about your salary openly with your boss. If you feel stressed about your workload or a particular project, co-worker, or other workplace issue, go to your supervisor or the Human Resources department to let them know. If you can’t reach a resolution, or if you find the job just isn’t the right fit for your career path, it may be time to move on.

How did you know it was time to break free from a job? Let us know in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Mother’s Day: A Salute to Working Moms

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10, in the United States, and it’s a great day to honor the moms and motherly figures in our lives. We’d like to recognize all working moms by sharing interesting facts, gift ideas, and an in-depth look at the women who make both Mother’s Day and the workplace something to celebrate.

Moms In the Workforce
Finding a job and maintaining a positive work-life balance can be tough. For working moms, it can be even more difficult. Fifty years ago, it wasn’t very common for mothers to be a part of the workforce, but that’s a trend that has changed today. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that 70% of women with children under 18 participate in the labor force. This equates to roughly 31 million working American mothers.

When comparing the years 1961-1965 with years 2006-2008, this change in the labor force becomes even clearer. In the 1960s, only 44% of first-time mothers worked during their pregnancy, while 66% of first-time moms worked during their pregnancies in the 2000s. Additionally, only 17% of women returned to work within a year of their first baby’s birth in the 1960s, compared to 64% who returned to work in the 2000s.

Furthermore, in the 1960s, only 11% of working mothers were the sole or primary breadwinner for their families, compared to 40% of women today.

The Value of Mom’s Time
Many mothers take care of household tasks while also maintaining full- or part-time jobs. These tasks include cooking, cleaning, managing family finances, chauffeuring, and shopping. According to the Insure.com 2014 Mother’s Day Index, tasks that moms perform at home would be worth nearly $63,000 a year in the professional world.

Saying Thank You
According to CNN, 141 million Mother’s Day cards are exchanged every year in the United States, and more people purchase fresh flowers and plants on this day than any other holiday, except for Christmas. In fact, Mother’s Day accounts for one-fourth of all holiday sales of flowers and plants.

According to Insure.com, a card or flowers will be appreciated on Mother’s Day. But, what do moms really want? A 2014 survey of mothers revealed that the top picks for Mother’s Day gifts include a day at the spa, a family getaway, a nice dinner, chocolates, breakfast in bed, and handmade gifts from their children.

Here at Movin’ On Up, we salute our associates who are working mothers and wish all of them a happy Mother’s Day!

Are you a working mother? How do you find a balance between your work and home life? Share your tips in the comments section below!

MothersDay_Graphic

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

5 Reasons to Start a Side Gig

200451597-001Are you a crafty person, a talented photographer, or someone who loves pets? If you have a professional skill or passion, you may want to consider launching a side gig. Side gigs, or side jobs, are commonplace for many of today’s workers. In fact, according to The Millennial Survey 2014 by Deloitte, 70% of Millennials – those ages 18-34 – want to start their own business. And, in a recent Movin’ On Up poll, 46% of respondents said they’d like to own a business but didn’t know where to begin. Whether it’s hosting a show at a local comedy club, operating a lawn mowing business, or selling handmade products, second jobs can be beneficial in many ways. So, here are five reasons why starting a side gig might be right for you.

Supplement Your Income
It can sometimes be difficult, especially if you’re unemployed and looking for a job, to make ends meet every month. Starting a side job can bring in extra income and offer new ways to make money. If you have a knack for knitting, painting, or crafting, for example, opening an Etsy site may help you earn additional income selling products you already enjoy making. Or, if you like pets, offering your services as a dog walker or pet sitter can also bring in additional income.

Good for Your Resume
Any time you can add experience to your resume, you should. And, when you add phrases like “Owned and operated a childcare business,” or “Tutored students in English,” potential employers will notice your drive, independence, and entrepreneurial spirit. It’s not always easy to run your own side job, and hiring managers will likely recognize the effort you put into your business as well as your flexibility.

Impress Your Boss
A side job can also impress your current employer. According to Kimberly Palmer, author of The Economy of You, “What I found is that increasingly, employers welcome and even encourage their employees’ side-gigs … they see their employees learning new skills, including valuable entrepreneurial, e-commerce, marketing, and social media skills, on their own time, and then bringing those abilities back to their main employer.”

But, if you’re currently employed, don’t let a side job get in the way of work. While your side job might be exciting, don’t ignore your primary job. And, don’t use your employer’s time or resources to work on your side gig. Follow your company’s guidelines for outside activities and remain respectful to your employer.

Creative Expression and Gratification
The initial motivation for starting a side job is often money. But, it may become something more as you realize the things you’re making or doing are allowing you the freedom of creative expression. If you’re a talented photographer, consider opening your own business. Start by offering your friends free or discounted photography sessions to build your portfolio, and soon you’ll enjoy the personal and financial rewards your new side business brings.

And, when your services or products help improve the lives of others, your side job may become a very gratifying part of your life. If you love teaching, find a subject you’re particularly knowledgeable in and help others learn it. For example, if you’re really good at a foreign language, you might look for tutoring opportunities at local schools. Tutoring students can bring in extra income, and you’ll also feel gratification for helping others succeed.

Learn New Skills
You don’t need to have a talent or skill in mind before starting your side gig. In fact, launching a side job may help you learn new skills. You may not be a great blogger, but if you start your own blog and research, educate yourself, and gain knowledge on the topic, your writing may grow stronger. If you like to design websites, but don’t know everything about the business, learn all that you can and gain hands-on experience. Study successful people in the industry, join community forums or groups, and watch what others are doing to be successful. Learning new skills can make you more employable. So, be willing to try new things. According to Palmer, “It’s so easy to launch a side gig today. If you have an inkling for something you might want to do, just get started.”

Don’t Give Up
Remember, not every side job will be the next big thing. But, don’t give up if setbacks occur. With every new business venture, there will be speed bumps along the way. The key to success is not letting those speed bumps stop you on your journey.

Have you started your own side gig? Do you have any tips for running a successful side business? Share with us in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Brand It Blue Day Provided More Than 55,000 Meals

On Saturday, June 14, in communities across North America, Express Employment Professionals offices came together to serve and give back as part of the second annual Brand It Blue Day.

More than 200 Express offices, from California to North Carolina to Canada joined with 1,000 volunteers to provide more than 55,000 meals for those in need. If you were able to be a part of this amazing effort in any way, thank you for your support and hard work.

As we recently shared, volunteering and serving with a local nonprofit or charity can help you find your next job. But giving back to your community doesn’t just impact your job search. Research shows volunteering is connected to an increase in well-being and lowered depression, both of which are often impacted by the loss of a job.

Helping others, whether it’s through serving alongside a group of volunteers on a Saturday morning, or by doing pro-bono work from your home for a nonprofit, has a positive impact on your attitude on life and hopes for your future. The London School of Economics conducted a study that found the more people volunteered, the happier they felt.

We hope that Brand It Blue Day gave you an opportunity to serve in your community,  increase your happiness, and possibly, make some new connections that will help you soon find a new job. If you didn’t have a chance to join Express for this year’s event, make sure to check back with your local office for information about Brand It Blue Day 2015 and how you can be involved.

Check out some of the photos from Brand It Blue Day events from across North America!

Olive Brand Express Office
Olive Branch Express Office
Grand Rapids Express Office
Grand Rapids Express Office
El Paso Express Office
El Paso Express Office
Raleigh Express Office
Raleigh Express Office

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Poor Leadership Top Workplace Stress

StressPollResults_May2014_webApril was stress awareness month, so we checked in with our readers on the top workplace stress triggers in our monthly poll. Topping the list with 21% of the results was “lack of/poor leadership,” followed by 15% responding that “long hours/increasing workloads” are the biggest trigger of stress. Tied for the third spot with 10% of the votes were “inadequate pay/benefits” and “poor working environment/company culture.”

Here is how the remaining responses ranked:

  • Concerns about job security: 9%
  • Poor work-life balance: 9%
  • Work is uninteresting/not your chosen career: 7%
  • Poor relationships with co-workers: 7%
  • Inadequate job training: 5%
  • Lack of opportunities for advancement: 4%
  • Other: 3%

Top Causes of Stress for Leaders and Managers
Leadership challenges plague both employees and those charged with leading a company. Express Employment Professionals also asked the same questions about workplace stress to the readers of Refresh Leadership, a blog for managers and leaders, and “lack of/poor leadership” topped their list with 17% of the votes. “Long hours/increasing workloads” came in second place with 15% of the votes, ranking the same spot on the list as top causes of stress for the Movin’ On Up readers.

If you’ve thought being the boss would solve all your stress at work, this may crush your hopes of an easier life when you move up the corporate ladder. However, it can be comforting to know that you’re not alone in facing challenges with leadership. A search for leadership books on Amazon returns over 20,000 results, a testament to the true struggle leading a team and working with others can be. As a point of reference, there were only 10,000 weight-loss books on Amazon, even with the constant diet fads.

Leadership is often about communication, and your manager may be better served in helping you if you find an effective and efficient way to share your challenges and successes. It may not solve all your workplace worry, but it could be the start of less stress.

Ways to Cope
Check out these related blog posts with suggestions on managing workplace stress and improving relationships at work:

What have you found to be the most efficient way to manage workplace stress? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Reinvent Your Online Identity

online _identity_May2014Whether you’re looking for a job and want to expand your network or just wanting to freshen up your social media presence, it’s important to frequently revamp your online identity. A revamp doesn’t mean you have to overhaul your social media presence, but it’s a good way to put your best foot forward. Here are some ways you can get started on revamping your online identity today.

First Impression

Some people say first impressions last a lifetime. If that’s the case, your profile needs to be the best representation of yourself it can possibly be. Do you have pictures or posts that aren’t great representations of you? Do yourself a favor and delete things off your page that could potentially hinder or cause a hiring manager to change their mind about you. Also, be mindful that if you’ve applied for jobs, hiring managers are probably already checking out your online identity.

A new survey by CareerBuilder, nearly two in five companies use social networking sites to research job candidates and according to Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, “Employers are using all the tools available to them to assure they make the correct hiring decision,” and that includes social media.

Stay Active

Do you actively search for job opportunities through social media networks? If not, becoming active through social media groups is a great way to start. You can learn about companies and gain knowledge of different industries just by being part of a group on LinkedIn. You never know if a LinkedIn connection you made through a group can be helpful in getting a job in the future. A recent Jobvite survey shows that more people get hired from online referrals and company career pages than from job boards. So it’s important to stay active online, never stop networking, and keep everything professional.

Keep it Current

Is the information on your profile accurate and up-to-date? Sometimes we get busy and forget to update our information – especially after a move or change in job. Be sure to take a good look at your social media profiles and make sure all your information is current. Not only does your information need to be consistently updated, but it’s also important to keep an up-to-date profile picture.

It’s never too late to reinvent your online identity. You can start today by using these quick tips we’ve shared. Have you recently updated your social media profiles and got a job as a result? Let us know in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.