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4 Financial Goals to Achieve Before the End of the Year

Finance

The year is over. At this point, many of us put off any changes we might be thinking of making until after the New Year. But why wait when you can start now? There's still time left to achieve some reasonable but meaningful financial goals before the calendar flips to 2019.


Check Your Credit Report

If you haven't checked your credit report yet this year, you may want to before the year ends. All three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – offer free credit reports annually. Even if you have checked your credit report at some point during the year through one credit bureau, it's not a bad idea to check another before the year is over.

Checking your credit report is an important habit to get into. It will allow you to get a better grasp on your financial habits and what is affecting your credit score. It will also help you spot any errors. If there is a mistake on your credit report, your credit score may be getting unfairly docked. When you spot a mistake, you should first approach the credit card company to see if it can be resolved. If it can't be resolved, you may want to consider filing a dispute. Checking your credit score at the end of the year is also an excellent way to decide what financial goals you may want to set for yourself in the New Year.

Review Your Budget

You certainly don't need to wait until January to take a look at your budget. Realistically, you'll only need to set aside a few hours to go through it, if that. Again, even if this is something you've done at another point during the year, it's wise to revisit it to ensure you're on track. Spending tends to vary by season, so you may have strayed from your budget since the last time you checked.

First, gather all the materials you will need to track what's coming in and going out each month. Then, decide how you're going to record everything. Go with what you're most comfortable with, whether that's writing things down by hand, keeping digital records, or using an app. Be sure to include everything. If you have supplemental income outside of your primary employment, add that. And on the other hand, be sure to keep track of every bill and expense that's going out. Once you see the numbers, you'll be able to see what your situation looks like and whether there are areas where you can cut back.

Give Your Debt Some TLC

At this time of year, a lot of us are adding to our debt rather than subtracting from it. Instead, take the end of the year to review where you are with debt. How much do you owe? How many different accounts do you have? Are you making progress the way you want to be? By answering these questions, you'll have a better idea of what your situation is heading into the New Year. Then, you'll be able to create an actionable plan going forward.

If you've already had a plan in place, take a look at whether you need to make any adjustments. Additionally, ask yourself if you had a solid plan set and didn't stick to it. How will you hold yourself more accountable in the future? Does the method need to be altered to suit your situation better? Carefully examining and asking yourself questions about your debt will allow you to have a clearer vision heading into the New Year.

Check-In On Your Retirement Savings

If you've been having retirement contributions automatically deducted from your paycheck all year, you may have neglected to check in on how your retirement is actually doing. The end of the year is the perfect time to take a look. Gauge whether you've saved as much as you'd hoped by this point. Ask yourself if you're contributing as much as you can afford. Also, consider whether you're contributing the maximum amount your company will match. If you can manage to up your contribution, that may be an excellent goal to set for yourself for the New Year. The sooner you start saving for retirement – and the more you save early on – the better off you'll be. Because of compound interest, you'll need to contribute less the earlier you begin to save. If you haven't begun saving at all yet, look into the steps you'll need to take to start saving before the end of the year.

We're in the home stretch of 2018. And by nature, the end of the year is a great time to recap how things have gone for the past 12 months – in every aspect of life. When it comes to your finances, you don't need to wait until the calendar flips to start accomplishing things. Many tasks that can improve your financial health don't take much time at all. By taking the time to achieve these goals before the year is over, you can position yourself for a strong start to the New Year. You'll know what your financial situation looks like, and you'll have an idea of what your resolutions for next year should look like.

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Business

My Untold Story Of Inventing the Sports Bra And How it Changed the World (And Me)

Following are excerpts from "Unleash the Girls, The Untold Story of the Invention of the Sports Bra and How It Changed the World (And Me)" By Lisa Z. Lindahl


There is an idea that has popped up everywhere from Chaos Theory to Science Fiction and New Age memes known popularly as the "Butterfly Effect." Simply put, it is the notion that one very small thing—the movement of a butterfly's wing say, or the ripple in a lake caused by a pebble being thrown into it—can cause tremendous effect far away: the butterfly's wing a tornado, the ripple a large wave on a distant shore. Cause and effect, does it have limits? The field of physics is telling us that it takes only observation to bring a thing into being. We cannot consider these areas of investigation and not acknowledge that everything—everything—is in relationship in some way or another with everything else.

So, it is evident to me that commerce of any kind is, also, just about relationships. It all boils down, on every level to this simplicity. While we usually think of relationships as occurring between people—it is far more than that.

I used to teach a course in entrepreneurship specifically for women in The Women's Small Business Program at Trinity College in Burlington, Vermont. I made this concept of relationship and its importance central in how I taught the marketing thought process. I would stress that for a product or service to be successful, it had to meet a perceived need. There is a need, and it wants to be met; or it may be thought of as a problem to be solved. Or there may be an existing solution that is less than adequate.

For example: In my universe as a runner there already were a plethora of bras available, but they were inadequate for my purpose. The relationship between my breasts, my running body, and my bra was creating discomfort and distraction. A new solution had to be found, the relationship occurring when all these things came together had to be fixed. Utilizing this point of view, one sees a set of issues that need to be addressed—they are in relationship with each other and their environment in a way that needs to be changed, adjusted.

Nowhere is this viewpoint truer than in business, as we enter into more and more relationships with people to address all the needs of the organization. Whether designing a product or a service or communicating with others about it—we are in relationship. And meanwhile, how about maintaining a healthy relationship with ourselves? All the issues we know about stress in the workplace can boil down to an internal balancing act around our relationships: to the work itself, to those we work with, to home life, friends and lovers. So quickly those ripples can become waves.

Because Jogbra was growing so quickly, relationships were being discovered, created, ending, expanding and changing at a pace that makes my head spin to recall. And truly challenged my spirit. Not to mention how I handled dealing with my seizure disorder.

"My Lifelong Partner"

Let me tell you a bit about my old friend, Epilepsy. Having Epilepsy does not make any sort of money-making endeavor easy or reliable, yet it is my other "partner" in life. Husbands and business partners have come and gone, but Epilepsy has always been with me. It was my first experience of having a "shadow teacher."

While a child who isn't feeling she has power over her world may have a tantrum, as we grow older, most of us find other more subtle ways to express our powerfulness or powerlessness. We adapt, learn coping mechanisms, how to persuade, manipulate, or capitulate when necessary. These tools, these learned adaptations, give a sense of control. They make us feel more in charge of our destiny. As a result, our maturing self generally feels indestructible, immortal. Life is a long, golden road of futures for the young.

This was not the case for me. I learned very early on when I started having seizures that I was not fully in charge of the world, my world, specifically of my body. There are many different types of epileptic seizures. Often a person with the illness may have more than one type. That has been the case for me. I was diagnosed with Epilepsy—with a seizure type now referred to as "Absence seizures"—when I was four years old. I have seen neurologists and taken medications ever since. As often happens, the condition worsened when I entered puberty and I started having convulsions as well—what most people think of when they think of epileptic seizures. The clinical name is generalized "Tonic-clonic" seizures.

In such a seizure the entire brain is involved, rather like an electrical circuit that has gone out as a result of a power surge. I lose consciousness, my whole body becomes rigid, the muscles start jerking uncontrollably, and I fall. Tonic-clonic seizures, also known as "grand mal" seizures, may or may not be preceded by an aura, a type of perceptual disturbance, which for me can act as a warning of what is coming. The seizure usually only lasts for a few minutes, but I feel its draining effects for a day or two afterwards. Although I would prefer to sleep all day after such a physically and emotionally taxing event, I have often just gotten up off the floor and, within hours, gone back to work. It was necessary sometimes, though definitely not medically advised. I'm fond of saying that having a grand mal seizure is rather like being struck by a Mack truck and living to tell the tale.

Having Epilepsy has forced me to be dependent on others throughout my life. While we are all dependent upon others to some degree—independent, interdependent, dependent—in my case a deep level of dependency was decreed and ingrained very early on. This enforced dependency did not sit well with my native self. I bucked and rebelled. At the same time, a part of me also feared the next fall, the next post-convulsive fugue. And so I recognized, I acquiesced to the need to depend on others.

The silver lining of having Epilepsy is that it has introduced me to and taught me a bit about the nature of being powerless—and experiencing betrayal. I could not trust that my body would always operate as it should. Routinely, it suddenly quits. I experience this as betrayal by my brain and body. It results in my complete powerlessness throughout the convulsion. Not to mention an inconvenient interruption of any activities or plans I might have made.

Hence, I am the recipient of two important life lessons—and I was blessed to have this very specific and graphic experience at a young age. It made me observant and reflective, giving me the opportunity to consider what/where/who "I" was. I knew I was not "just" my body, or even my brain.

So, who or what did that leave? Who, what am I? Much has been written about trauma, and about near-death experiences, both of which seizures have been classified or described as. I won't delve into that here except to say that experiencing recurrent seizures and the attendant altered states of consciousness that sometimes accompany an episode (the euphemism for a seizure) changes one. It deeply affects you. It is both illuminating and frightening. It opens you up in some ways and can close you way down in others. For me it made it easy to consider the possibility of other ways to perceive, of other realms. And as an adult I became interested in quantum physics, where Science is pushing and challenging our long-held perceptual assumptions. Me, who was poor in math and disinterested in Science while in school! So if not merely body and brain, who am I? Spirit. And with Epilepsy's tutelage, I was encouraged to question, seek, try to understand what lies beyond.

Living with Epilepsy has also given me great strength. In realizing the futile nature of trying to have "power over" Epilepsy, I developed a deep well of "power within"—that inner strength that comes in the acceptance of that which one cannot change—and looking beyond it.

Through my experience building the business of Jogbra with the unique lens afforded me by my Epilepsy partner, I came to understand more fully the nature of power and what it means to be truly powerful.

Specifically, that having power and exercising it is not simply a manifestation of the ego. It need not be "power-tripping." It is how I wield my power that matters, making the all-important distinction between creating a situation of power over, power with, or empowering and having and creating strength in oneself and others.

Being powerful is a big responsibility.

To put all this another way: do I choose to create situations in which I am able to wield power over others? Or do I choose to empower others, sharing my strengths with them, while nurturing their strengths as well? The first is not true power. It is control. The second I believe to be the essence of true and positive power: strength. And integral to creating a more harmonious world, oh by the way.

While this may be apparent, even basic to others, it was an "aha!" moment for me. Too often in the years ahead I would give away my power and question my own strengths,. Time and again, however, my inner strength, my shadow teacher's gift, helped me survive and thrive until I could take responsibility for and embrace more fully my own power.

© Lisa Z. Lindahl 2019