A young earner’s guide to saving

A young earner’s guide to saving

Picture this. You land the perfect-fit job straight out of University with good benefits and a great workplace culture. You plan to save a portion of your monthly earnings to buy your first car but you lose control because Jimmy Choo is having a 50% sale and it happens to be on payday.  

Before then you can’t help but do the payday countdown like the rest of your colleagues. No doubt, earning your own money and holding down a job is an exciting time for any young worker in his or her work life.

Shopping, eating out and painting the town red are on the to-do list of every young earner as youngsters are known to want to have fun.
However, spending unwisely and lavishly can mean you can soon run out of money – and that just washes out the colour in your life. Nobody wants to feel left out when his or her friends go out to celebrate a birthday or promotion, but when your car refuses to move or you are faced with exorbitant mechanical charges but you are short of funds, it’s a sad reality.

Saving for rainy days and future plans should be paramount for all young workers. We all have days of going a little above the budget margin and splurge on stuff we don’t really need at a particular time from time to time, but it does not have to be that way and saving now will benefit you in the long run.
Here’s a guideline on how first-time earners can channel their monthly surpluses effectively

1. Draw up a budget and stick to it
You need to draw a budget. This will help you get a clear idea of your income versus your expenditure for the month. It will guide you on how much you must save. It will help you to track where and on what your money is spent on.
It will draw your attention to unnecessary spending and will help you to eliminate it. When you budget, be honest with yourself and examine your “real” spending habits. Forcing yourself to see the realities of your spending habits should make it easier for you to avoid daily and month-end temptations.

2. Adopt a savings mindset
According to Old Mutual, the majority of its customers find that they are spenders as opposed to savers. This can be changed by making small changes and better choices.
You can correct this by making small changes to your habits. You can open a fixe deposit account and transfer money into it. One of the best ways to help you save money is to never “see” it via debit or stop orders. Withdrawing money from this account means you will have to give the bank 30 day’s notice, making it harder to access for wants. However, do note that each bank may have its own notice period.

3. Avoid credit cards
The freedom a credit card can give you can be tempting. Paying it back feels like you are a prisoner of debt. Most people prefer using a paying method that does not involve having cash on hand. The allure of the credit card can draw you into a world of debt if you cannot make payments on time or at all. Cash is best and safe when you are trying to keep a clean financial record.

Talent360’s basic steps to help you clear debt:

• Pay off the most expensive account first. This could be debts that attract the highest interest rates, such as your credit cards and shopping cards;
• Once you have cleared off your most expensive debts, move on to settling the next most expensive debt by paying more than the minimum instalment amount.

4. Set goals
Set saving goals that you know you will definitely follow.

Talent360 shares some tips.

• Start small and set achievable goals that will keep you motivated;
• Pay your utility bill before spending money on anything else;
• Create a list of things that need to be paid for or bought on payday and stick to it;
• Before you buy things, shop around and compare prices. Bargains will make you feel good and your pockets look healthy;
• Put some money away for unexpected or emergency expenses;
• Learn to say “no” to yourself.
Assess the situation – ask yourself do I really need it or do I crave it? If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it;
• Include some money as a reward to keep you motivated.

5. Pack your own work lunch

Taking lunch from home will ensure that you save money.
If you know you have a sweet tooth or can’t resist munchies at your work canteen, bring your own sweets from a cheaper supermarket or make your own munchies instead of buying them from the canteen.
Buying food daily will burn holes in your pockets when you tally your monthly spending in your budget.

6. Make lifestyle adjustments

If you smoke three packs of cigarettes a week or visit the beautician twice a week, cut down. Make lifestyle choices that can have a positive impact on your savings. If you have clothes or accessories that you don’t use, sell them online or at a car boot sale. Be wise in your lifestyle choices. You shouldn’t take it as an inconvenience, rather it should help you make informed decisions.

A women’s guide to success at home and in the workplace

A women’s guide to success at home and in the workplace

Being a successful career-driven woman and a doting new mother is a wonderful and fulfilling experience. However, its flipside is that it can be overwhelming. Both occupations are demanding full-time jobs. 

As a working mother, you will feel that there are not enough hours in a day. However, strategic time management and prioritisation can make things a little easier.

According to work-life experts, such as author and keynote speaker Samantha Ettus, and founder and CEO of JoJo Maman Bébé Laura Tenison, you should mark your boundaries clearly and guard against your work life encroaching on family work.

Ettus said: “In the old days we worked for the same company for 30 years and our daily hours were 9 to 5. But times have changed and you should, too. Don’t expect your company to protect your personal life, that’s your job. Decide a reasonable time to arrive and leave the office each day, given your workload and responsibilities, and barring a work deadline or emergency, stick to it. Daily train commuters are slave to the schedule; behave like one of them.”

Adjusting your morning schedule so that you can shower and get dressed at a comfortable pace, while still making time for breakfast. It will ensure you are a step ahead of your day.

Tenison said that working mothers need to ensure that their children understand how important they are and are able to appreciate that work is also important.

“Ensure that the kids understand they come first, but work is sometimes important. They need to respect this. When my boys were a little older, we would all sit together at the table; they would do their homework and I would do mine. This gives you time together, but also helps to instil the importance of work.”
There are going to be days when you have meetings after hours, an overload of work or a crisis that needs your attention. That could mean you have to go home later than usual. 

Ettus advised that you enlist evening help from your partner or babysitter once every couple of weeks, even if you have nothing planned. “It’s great not to have to rush home sometimes or work late, so you can go for a drink or go late-night shopping. Enjoy your free time and try not to feel guilty.”

Tenison and Ettus advised mothers to hone the skill of making quick decisions. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the myriad decisions faced daily, and as a busy working mother, you don’t have time to dwell on  grey areas. So, make decisions swiftly and move on to the next task.
Most times, a superwoman will need support to keep the balance between home and work without falling apart. Reaching out for help from your partner should not be difficult or something to be uneasy about.

“To reach your potential personally and professionally, you are either single or you have a partner who supports your dreams and is willing to do his or her part to conquer at home and with the kids. If you are paired up but unequal, it is time to turn your spouse into a partner. After the kids go to sleep, take a night to have an open conversation and spend time writing down what each of you does in a given week. This is your path to a ‘partnershift’,” she said.

Once you accept that a fulfilling life is full of messy and chaotic moments, you can get through the rough patches sooner. Embrace the imperfections and move on to the next moment, which is likely to be a far better one. Take it as your journey of self-discovery, growth and development personally and professionally.

Email etiquette: the do’s and don’ts

Email etiquette: the do’s and don’ts

The electronic mail (email) is a popular and accessible form of communication in most workplaces in the world. It is regarded as an efficient way of communication.
Nowdays, you may not use emails to communicate as much as you once did, but you probably still use it in professional correspondence when applying for a job or when communicating with your colleagues or boss.

Writing an email incorrectly can result in you coming across as unprofessional or unprepared. You would not want to be perceived as incompetent or unprofessional. After all, the email is a communication tool that represents your brand and how the recipient will understand what you are trying to say. It shows your ability to express yourself in words.

The do’s:

• Make the subject line meaningful. A “Hi” or “Hello” won’t do. The recipient decides in which order to read your message or whether to read it at all based on who sent it or what it’s about. The subject line indicates the importance and topic of discussion.
• Include a heading in the subject line. With the number of emails and viruses that can land in inboxes, try to make the subject line relevant. A subject heading is essential if you want someone to read your message. 
• Personalise your message to the recipient. An email requires a personal greeting such as “Dear Ms Jones,” or “Hi Jack,”. Failure to include a greeting can make your message seem cold.
• Account for tone. When you communicate in person, some of your communication is non-verbal. Emails have no tell-tale body language. The reader cannot see your face or hear the tone of your voice, so choose your words carefully and thoughtfully. Think about how they will come across in cyberspace.
• Look at your email address and determine how it represents you. Names such as “Loose lips” are not professional. 
Students sometimes embarrass themselves by communicating with an employer using an inappropriate address.
• Include your name and/or a signature with additional details and contact information. The recipient may want to communicate by means other than the email.

The don’ts: 

• Don’t forget to check for spelling and grammar. If you think this form of communication does not have to be letter perfect, think again. It represents you.  
Poorly written messages may indicate the poor quality of work in other ways. Use proper capitalisation, punctuation, usage of words and phrases and always check spelling.
• Don’t write too much. An email should be a brief communication. Keep the message concise. Use only a few brief paragraphs. 
• Don’t forward emails without permission. Why pass on something that was addressed only to you? Often, confidential information becomes global because of someone’s lack of judgement. Unless you were asked to forward something, don’t do so without permission.
• Don’t “Reply to all”, unless you are sending a response intended for group viewing. 
• Don’t fill in the “To” or recipient’s line until you’ve written and edited and/or proofread your message. Is the information accurate, grammatically correct and in an appropriate tone? 
If you enter the “To” information first, a slip of the finger can send a message before it is time.
• Don’t think that no one but the intended recipient will see your email. After a message leaves your mailbox, you have no idea where it may end. Don’t use the internet to send anything that you wouldn’t want to see in public or hear about at the office water cooler.

Mastering good time management at work

Mastering good time management at work

Keeping time and managing it well within your day’s workload can prove beneficial to your productivity and health. Time management is a useful skill to possess as a professional. Companies appreciate it when employees are prompt, effective and efficient. Time management plays a role in promotion and performance.

In a two-part series, Talent360 will guide readers on how to manage their working hours productively.

According to Time-success.com, three crucial yardsticks can be used to define good time management in the workplace, namely:
• Productivity – how much you do;
• Performance – how well you do;
• Perception – how you and others feel about what you do.

A better time management plan at work means you continually strive to improve your effectiveness (what you do) and your efficiency (how you do it), both of which are important to determining your career direction.
Improving your time management isn’t as hard as you may think. And the resulting benefits can be huge. Below are a few guidelines to help you manage your time better.

Know your duties
You ought to be clear about what is expected of you. This is crucial because it defines what you decide to spend your time on and how long you should spend your time on it. That is the cornerstone of better time management and crucial if you want to be productive at work.

Know your goals
You need to know what you are aiming for, and when and how you will be able to get there.
Know what you want to be, want to do and want to have, because, as the saying goes, “If you don’t plant the seeds, you’ll end up with weeds”.
List your major work goals, and you’ll know what to spend your time on when you’re there.

Start your day well
Start your day the moment you wake up. Plan a realistic “pre-work routine” that ensures you get to work as early as possible. Your routine may start the night before.
Your pre-work routine can be continually refined. You may even get to a point where you park your car to face the right way.

Be organised
When you are organised, you find it much easier to prepare yourself and work diligently. If it is important and you have to do it, put it on your to-do list. It doesn’t matter how long you do it for, just do it every day until you get to the point where you know what goes where. Eventually, you will no longer have a messy desk.

Work to limits
According to Time-success.com, writing a to-do list is an essential habit if you want to practise good time management.
Collect all work for one day, for example Monday. As the day goes on, put everything that doesn’t have to be done today in a single “next day” tray.
At the end of Monday, write down each task you have to do the following day. Use an action diary to do this.
Transfer the paper, reports, memos and etc from your “next day” tray to a “today” tray.

8 tips on working from home productively

8 tips on working from home productively

WORKING from home may seem like a dream come true for the modern employee, especially when you work irregular hours, public holidays or overtime. It can also be the ultimate personal productivity test, as many may feel that they lack self-discipline and focus required to be productive for home-based work.
When deciding to work from home, you should keep in mind that your work still deserves the same attention and dedication as your office-based work.
According to Jeff Haden of online website Inc, the key to being productive from a home office isn’t only willpower or determination, but also it’s following a few simple tips that will help you to be efficient and effective.
To ensure that you are productive working from home, career expert Haden and Lifehack, the life inspiration online source, advise how to become a productive home-based worker.

Set up your personal workspace 

Setting up a functional workspace is critical to the success of a work-from-home employee. Organise your space so that it contains all the necessary equipment you need. You may decorate your workspace so that it is aesthetically appealing, but try to keep distractions to a minimum.

Inform people of your schedule, then ‘enforce’ it
Interruptions are productivity killers. When you work from home, your family and friends can be the most frequent sources of interruption.
Be proactive by sharing your schedule with them. Explain when you’ll be working. Describe whether it’s “interrupt me at will” (probably not) or “only interrupt me if it’s an emergency” (more likely).

Get a comfortable chair

Working from home implicitly means you’re a knowledge worker, meaning you spend a lot of time working on a computer.
No matter what else you do, invest in a good computer, phone and the most comfortable and ergonomic chair you can find. If you aren’t comfortable, you can’t stay focused to be productive.

Set limits 

Divide your day into 90-minute windows. Instead of thinking about an eight- or 10-hour workday, split your day into four or five 90-minute windows. That way, you will have four tasks that you will get done a lot more

Include breaks in your schedule

Your diary or planner will be full of tasks, calls, meetings and deadlines, but it should also include scheduled breaks. Set break times including lunch. Otherwise your day will get away from you, and so will your opportunities to recharge.

Turn off your notifications

Turning off your computer and phone alerts will improve your ability to focus. If you need to get things done, turn off any digital elements that might interrupt you. When you have finished, lift up your head to see what you might have missed.

Hire a childminder

People who have young children may find it difficult to attend to the needs of their young ones while trying to meet their work obligations. For this reason, it is
advisable to employ a childminder during your working hours.

Avoid volunteering for many activities

Many people will assume that because you work from home, you are free to help them run errands, pick up their children from school
or be an emergency
babysitter if their child catches a cold.
While you may want to help your friends and family, it is important to clarify that your work is just as important as theirs and that you have obligations to meet every working day.

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