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Wednesday
May292019

What Not to Do When You're in Debt

The chances are that most people will end up with some form of debt in their lives. You might have a killer student loan that's lingering in the distance and waiting to strike, or you may have a personal loan that you recently acquired so you could update your kitchen or buy a new car.

In today's economy, many people simply can't afford to make high-value purchases all at once. A well-researched loan can be an excellent way to take the stress off your shoulders and balance out the cost of crucial investments. However, it's important to have a plan for getting rid of the debt that you accumulate.

If you compared your options online before taking out a loan, you'll hopefully have the lowest interest rate available right now. Take advantage of that fact and get out of debt quickly by avoiding these unhelpful financial behaviors.

Here's what not to do when you're in debt. 

1.    Charge Everything to your Credit Card

Using your credit card while you're in debt can make you feel like you have more cash in your bank account. After all, a credit card doesn't take money out of your balance, so you'll be able to see your savings gradually increasing. However, if you're not paying off the purchases you make on your credit card, you'll just be building even more debt that you need to balance out later.

If you're using your credit card so you can save aside more money to pay off your debt, you could even up owing more money than you did before, due to bigger interest fees from the credit card company.

2.    Pay only the Minimum

It isn't easy to find enough cash for everything these days. Aside from your loan repayments, you'll also need enough money for your rent or mortgage, your utilities, any car expenses, and countless other things too. It's no wonder that you might prefer to pay only the minimum for a while.

Unfortunately, your loans will only last for so long. If you reach the end of your term and you haven't made enough of a dent in the total amount owed, then you're going to end up with a hefty repayment to worry about one day in the future. Reduce your long-term stress by paying off as much as you can each month - even if that means cutting your budget elsewhere.

3.    Avoid Changing your Budget

When you first took your loan out, you might have gone through your budget and decided that everything was where it needed to be so that you could afford your repayments. However, as time has passed by, you might have noticed payments cropping up here and there that you didn't account for. This means that you'll need to go back to the drawing board and make sure that your budget still works.

You may even need to re-assess your budget if you feel as though you're not making progress with your debt quickly enough. Cutting a few extra expenses by just a couple of extra dollars could make a massive difference to your remaining loan balance in the months to come.

4.    Skip Saving

Sometimes, when people want to get out of debt as quickly as possible, they assume that the best way to make progress is to cut their budget wherever they can. If you don't want to give up on your cable subscription or stop eating out with friends, then you might decide to cut down on your savings instead.

However, your savings should be a non-negotiable part of your budget. This is the money that you can turn to if something goes wrong in your life and you need a little extra help. It's also the cash that can keep you motivated when you're stressed, and you need evidence that you're making progress towards your goals. Don't let your savings suffer when you're in debt.

5.    Jump in without a Plan

Finally, anyone can choose to tackle their debt and make a real dent in the money that they owe. However, the best results always happen when they're pursued with a plan. Rather than just jumping into your debt strategy without any prior thought, make sure that you take the time to create a solid strategy. You'll need to know exactly which debts you're going to pay off first, and where that extra money is going to come from in your budget.

Once you implement your debt repayment plan, make sure that you track your progress so you can see how effective your strategy is. If you're not making enough progress within a few months, ask yourself if you can do anything differently.

Friday
May242019

Fun In The Field: How FSM Management Tools Can Increase Employee Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction plays a huge role in productivity. The more satisfied your workers are in their jobs, the happier they are; the happier they are, the harder they work and the more they're able to get done.

 

Although there are many ways to boost this vital metric, such as through employee recognition programs (86% of companies that implemented these cited an increase in worker happiness), the field service industry faces unique challenges; when your employees are constantly off on their own, it can be difficult to keep track of their progress and stay on top of their moods. Let's take a look at a few of the ways field service management technology can help bridge the gap and boost employee satisfaction.

 

The Physical Problem

 

The biggest issue field service technicians face is physical distance. Operating on your own in the field can make you feel like you're truly on your own; you don't have a manager to back you up, or a coworker to ask for advice. Communication can be exceptionally difficult, especially if you're working in remote areas. Add on the fact that you might not have what you need (either physically or information-wise) to fix the customer's problem, and you've got a recipe for job dissatisfaction.

 

Fortunately, advanced FSM technology has been able to eradicate those issues. Mobile solutions allow field technicians to communicate quickly and effectively with large databases to find what they need, and connects workers with others in the office; the latter makes them feel more integrated into the culture of the workplace, which greatly contributes to personal satisfaction.

Tackling The Technology

 

Distance can easily be overcome thanks to modern FSM tools. Many updates or changes are made in real-time, so your techs are aware of scheduling shifts or customer requests as they're being made. Process improvements ensure the entire experience -- from the customer route to the work itself -- is streamlined. When you have one tool capable of performing every role, you'll be able to save an incredible amount of time; entering job notes, collecting customer signatures and payments, and any other necessary paperwork can be done on one FSM tool. By improving efficiency, your field workers won't feel like they're wasting time every day, contributing to a more satisfying job experience.

 

Approximately 97% of FSM software users said that it had a beneficial impact on business operations. Because FSM tools give field techs the support and information they need to effectively do their jobs, they can create a more positive customer interaction; when you have happy workers, you have happy customers.

Thursday
May232019

Why Didn't My Campaign Work?

Marketing is without a doubt one of the most challenging aspects of a business, and being able to create a successful campaign and gain a great conversion rate for your business can be hard. A lot of the time even if you think you have done everything right for your campaign it might not show in the results you get back. Today we are going to take a look at these failed marketing campaigns and see if we can identify the possible reason why they failed.

1. You didn’t research enough

The most important thing you can do when studying failed advertising campaigns is look back and start from the beginning. When you were planning a winning campaign, what kind of research did you do for it? It is easy for us to take a quick skim through our competition and take a look at cheap ways to market and think that this is enough, but actually we need to delve deeper and really understand what we want to gain from a marketing campaign in the first place. 

2. You don’t know your audience

If you want to create the most successful campaigns for marketing, you need to know exactly who you are marketing to and how they will respond to a campaign. Of course, this can sound a little crazy when you think of trying to read the minds of people around you, but it is important for you to be able to identify who you are targeting in order to make content that they will enjoy. The way you will create content for a group of business people is very different to creating content for homeowners and this is something you need to ensure you can get right when it comes to making the campaign.

3. You didn’t target the right stage of the journey

The customer journey has many steps on it and it is not simply a case of a customer buys a product and that’s the end. There are a lot of stages to your customer journey and in order for you to effectively create a campaign you need to make sure you identify a stage and exploit it to the right people. A simple example of this would be if you were to create a promotional offer for existing customers, but target it at new people who want to join your membership and get to grips with your services. It is important to segregate your audience into categories and reach out to them in a more direct way because this will allow you to generate a better conversion rate afterwards.

4. Your content was too automated

One of the things which can be helpful for marketing is to have an automated system where you send out email newsletters, flyers and other marketing automatically each month. However when you create automated content you need to be aware of the points we have mentioned above and be sure not to send content which is too automated to your customers. For example if you have customers who have already bought their first product and want to buy more in the future, you need to send them content which reflects this and don’t send them the same as you would to a new set of customers. There’s no point creating a newsletter outlining your company and what you do to people who already know. Make sure that when you automate emails that you create 3-4 different ones for different people.

5. You set an unrealistic deadline

One of the things that you really need to be aware of when creating a campaign for your audience is the goal you set and the deadline you choose for it. When it comes to setting up a successful campaign for your followers you need to be able to gain the right results without rushing into things. The way that you can do this is to think about your goal and decide upon a REALISTIC deadline. For example if you are a new business who has just opened their first social media account, there is no sense in you trying to aim for 1000 new likes or followers within a week because this is not realistic and you are doomed to fail from the beginning. Make sure that any deadline you create makes sense and if you exceed expectations you can always increase your goal next time around.

6. Your campaign was budget restricted

There’s nothing wrong with being on a budget when you want to create a marketing campaign. In fact, marketing campaigns which are free can work well if you create it carefully. However if you have the budget for a good campaign and don’t utilise it, this is what will likely wreck your chances of a success. If you are more focussed on saving money than your campaign, you are not going to find the same success as you want. Make sure when you take a look at your campaign that you invest in the right audience, location and duration to get as many click throughs to your website as possible.

7. Your calls to action were vague

The most important thing to make sure you do when creating a marketing campaign is to set a call to action. A call to action is usually a button or an instruction which you add onto your advert which tells people what to do next. This can something such as ‘BUY NOW’, ‘CALL US’ or ‘VISIT OUR SITE’ and it will get people to click through and learn more. It is important to create a clear call to action which is simple to understand and use, so be sure that this is the case when you create a campaign.

8. Your database is outdated

If you have a database of old email addresses and inactive users for your campaign, you won’t get a great conversion rate. Think of it this way: if you send an email to 2000 people in the hopes of gaining 10% conversion; and 200 of those email addresses no longer work; you will lose out on your target. Make sure to sweep through now and again and make sure that you can email real people.

 

Thursday
May232019

Eliminating your High Interest Debt

As a business owner, you know the true cost of debt. Interest charges add up quickly and take money away from other areas where it would be better spent. Hopefully, you have your business debt in order, but what about your personal debt?

Make this year the one that you finally tackle your personal debt, namely credit cards. The three biggest debts people will carry are mortgage debt, student loan debt and credit card debt. Of those, the first two are generally considered good debt with credit cards being considered bad debt. Let's get rid of it.

Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt can quickly get out of hand and the credit card companies thrive on this. According to NerdWallet, the average household with credit card debt in 2018 had a balance of $15,561. Everything the card companies do is designed to get you to put more money on your credit cards. Cash back bonuses, introductory interest rates, airline miles, all of these credit card traps have the same goal. Getting consumers to charge more.

Sure, you can just take advantage of these bonuses and then pay off your balance monthly, but will you? The true answer is no, and credit card companies bank on this. How do you think they can afford to give these extras to you. It's kind of like casinos. Everyone thinks they can beat the house, but Caesar's Palace wasn't built by people winning.

Luckily, you can get out of this debt with a little discipline and a couple of time proven techniques. Let's take a look.

Debt Snowballing

Debt Snowballing is more of a motivational tool than anything else, but this is important when going through the drudgery of getting out of credit card debt.

With this technique, you need to lay out all of your credit card debts. List them in order of smallest to largest debts. You will then pay the minimum payment on all of your cards, except the smallest debt.

Take the smallest debt and pay as much as you can, each and every month. Do this until it is paid off and then move on to the next smallest debt. Continue this process until you are out of debt.

The benefit to Debt Snowballing is motivation. You pay the smallest debt first and then you get the satisfaction of seeing that zero balance. It helps motivate you to keep on paying the debt down.

Debt Snowballing can sometimes fly in the face of good financial sense, but it works. For example, the most productive thing to do would be to pay off the highest interest cards first but these might not be the smallest balance cards. Paying down a high balance card is demoralizing. You make big payments every month but the balance never seems to go down much. You never get the reward, so you give up.

If you are like most Americans, you need instant gratification, which is why Debt Snowballing works.

Debt Consolidation

If you have the credit rating to secure a good interest rate on a consolidation loan. this is a great way to go. The average credit card interest rate is 14.41% for existing accounts so anything that you can do to drop this will greatly help

Consolidating your debt will do two things for you.

Obviously, it will lower the interest that you pay every month. If you are carrying $15,000 in debt at the national average of 14%, you are paying $175 a month in interest. Get a consolidation loan at 5% and your monthly interest would drop to just $62.50. That is a savings of $112.50, money that could be used to further pay down your debt.

Another benefit to consolidation is that you will now, suddenly have a lot of paid off credit cards. As long as there is no annual fee, don't close them. The increase in your available credit should give you a nice boost to your credit score in a few months. If you close all those cards, the exact opposite will happen, your credit score will go down.

Now, let's be super clever and use that great new credit score. Use that increase in credit rating to look for an even better rate on a consolidation loan. Maybe you were not able to get a rate under 5% because of your credit card debt. Maybe you had to settle for a 10% loan rate. A huge improvement over credit card interest but you can do better now. So let's go out and secure a new, better consolidation loan.

This Is Your Year

Credit card debt is the worst kind of debt that a consumer can carry. Interest rates are a huge burden on your budget and high debt ratios can wreak havoc on your credit score. Take some action and make this the year that you join the 40% of Americans unburdened by high interest debt.

Wednesday
May152019

How Efficient Is Your Small Business?

Between filing taxes on time and hiring the right people, you are going to be running a business, bringing in more clients and managing customer expectations. There are plenty of ways to make your small business as easy as possible to run, and you need to strategize to make that happen.

Efficiency is critical in a business, and

whether you want to be more efficient by managing the way that you handle your customer's data, or you want to be more active in your IT department, you need to learn how you can make your company more productive. Let's take a look at how you can improve the efficiency of your small business.

Delegate Where You Can

Your business can only run for a finite amount of time in the day, which means you need to let go of some of the tasks that you want to get done and allow someone else to handle it. You can click here to learn more about the types of services that you can pay for to take a load off your plate. Small business owners often find it hard to let go of tasks, but by doing so, you can ensure that you are playing to your strengths while someone else plays to your weaknesses.

Go For Automation

Repetition is a thief of time. From typing up the same emails to performing the same marketing tasks, you need to cut the time that's being wasted. Automating the tasks that are on repeat in your business is going to change the way that you work. With automated programs working for you, you can make your business far more efficient than it is right now. Plus, you can free up some time for the tasks that you actually want to do rather than the ones that you have to do.

Focus Is Key

Did you know that flitting from task to task is going to be harder on your efficiency levels than focusing on one task at a time? Take the time to delegate tasks to yourself and make sure you block out the time in your calendar so that you can focus on these things one by one.

Embrace Changes

The worst thing that you can have in your workplace is complacency. You are the central point of the culture of your company, and part of this will mean embracing the ideas of others. Without change, your business will stagnate, and you end up being the type of business owner that digs their heels in and remains in the past. Being willing to make changes as time goes on is how you stay efficient because the ability to adapt is going to ensure you are stable.

Being able to run a business successfully requires you to be as efficient in your processes as possible. You have to pile your energy and your resources into making sure that your business is productive and focused.