September 29th, 2009

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  • BusinessWeek – Startup Jump Starters
  • Entrepreneur – Mompreneur defined
  • StartUpNation – The 8 Things You Need to Make a Home-Based Business Work!
  • Wall Street Journal – Freedom, Not Money, Drives Start Ups
  • Entrepreneur – Top Resources for Mompreneurs
  • Entrepreneur – It’s a Mom’s World
  • SmartMoney.com – Becoming a Mompreneur
  • Central Valley Business Times – Working mothers have it all
  • Parents – Home Office Essentials
  • DrLaura.com – So You Want to Work from Home?
  • iVillage Live TV Show
  • Entrepreneur – The New June Cleavers
  • Nashville Parent – Shhh Mom’s Got to Work
  • Working Mother – Working Mother Group Directory
  • OC Metro – Home-Based Business Scams
  • Entrepreneur – Wanna Be a Mompreneur?
  • CBS News
  • More.com – Working at Home: Tips for Success
  • CSM - Mom’s New Ballgame: Career at Home
  • Also featured in Forbes, USA Today, Home Office Computing, Parenting, Business Start-Ups, Baby Magazine, Family PC, Mothering, American Baby and many others!

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May 16th, 2017

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Today, the average American owes 11 percent more in household debt than a decade ago, Federal Reserve data shows. If that statistic isn’t shocking, perhaps these next two will make you gasp: The average household has accumulated massive credit card debt to the tune of more than $16,000. Meanwhile, the number of Americans who could pass a basic financial literacy quiz fell from 42 percent in 2009 to 37 percent in 2015, according to the FINRA Foundation.

Indeed, these disturbing numbers reflect poor financial management skills, underpinned by individuals’ and couples’ inability to distinguish wants from needs. Here are some guidelines you can follow to achieve more effective budget management skills.

Handsome man comparing two receipts and talking on a mobile

Budgeting Principles

One simple budgeting guideline many financial experts recommend is the 50/20/30 rule. Under this rule, you’ll need to budget 50 percent of your monthly income toward any fixed expenses, including rent and utility bills. Another 20 percent of your income should go toward variable expenses, such as family entertainment and eating out. Finally, the remaining 30 percent of your income should be set aside for savings and repaying any outstanding debt.

Fixed Expenses

However, the key to making the 50/20/30 rule work is your ability to identify which of your expenses should be counted as fixed expenses. You and your family’s health and well-being is second to none, and if you’ve racked up bills at your dentist or physician’s office, paying off these sums should be one of your top priorities.

Understanding you have to put a roof over yourself and your family, budgeting to pay your monthly mortgage or rent should also be a top priority. Additionally, setting aside enough money for monthly utilities is also essential; after all, who wants to freeze during winter and sweat it out in the summer?

Finally, if you drive to work, you’ll need a vehicle to get there and back, so car payments and gas expenses should also be considered a necessity. The same rule applies when budgeting for grocery expenses. These are costs that should remain fairly stable from month to month.

Variable Expenses

While eating is a necessity, dining out surely is not. Last year’s U.S. Census Bureau data revealed that, for the first time in history, Americans now spend more on eating out than they do on groceries. If you find you’re running a tight budget each month — and eat out a lot — then this is probably one of the first areas in which you can make cutbacks. Going forward, make sure your restaurant budget is part of your variable expenses — and not your fixed expenses.

This same rule applies for other non-essential spending, including going to the movies. However, not all variable expenses are created equal. For instance, no one needs to buy new tires every month. But, when you get a flat or your tread is worn, you hope you’ve saved enough money to buy some replacements. Remember to factor occasional necessary items — such as new tires — into your variable expenses, so you’re not scrounging for money when an emergency pops up.

Debt Repayment and Savings

When it comes to managing the remainder of your budget, repaying debt should normally take priority over savings. As you’ve learned by now, monthly interest is compounded to your debt, so your best option is to pay off any outstanding sums in a timely manner. Prioritize paying off student loans and credit card balances before you start investing your savings in the stock market.

There are, however, some exceptions to these general rules. First, you should save at least $1,000 for emergencies before pursuing other debt repayment obligations, according to personal financial expert Dave Ramsey. Additionally, while mortgage debt should be handled under fixed expenses, you shouldn’t ever attempt to pay off more than your minimum balance until you’ve:

  • Paid off smaller debts, like credit card bills
  • Saved up enough emergency funds to live on for at least a year
  • Started building your retirement savings

Finally, if your employer has a matching 401(k) fund, you should normally take advantage of putting part of your monthly income into this retirement savings plan, even if you have not yet fully paid off any credit card or student loan debt.

Mistakes to Avoid

To apply these guidelines successfully, avoid making some common financial management mistakes that can run up your debt. To maintain a good credit rating, always pay your bills on time, and don’t let your credit balances run up beyond 10 percent to 20 percent of your limit. If you find you’ve exceeded these balance limits, increase the portion of your income that you budget toward repaying debt in order to bring your balances back down.

You should also remember to factor holiday and birthday gift costs into your variable spending. Most Americans spend more than $900 per year on Christmas gifts. If you don’t include these costs in your budget, your debt will certainly creep up each year. Avoiding these mistakes — and following the 50/20/30 rule — will help you keep down your debt. Put these financial literacy principles into practice and you should gradually see your debt shrink and your savings grow over time.

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May 10th, 2017

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Being a work-from-home-Mom is the embodiment of a jack of all trades; a mother, a doctor, an arbiter, a cook, and a working professional. Sometimes, in favor of more pressing matters, one’s own professional development and goals can fall by the wayside.

This Mother’s Day, to complement the breakfast in bed and bouquet of your favorite flowers, do something to stay professionally “tuned up” and connected by implementing the following tips.

African American Woman Businesswoman Cell Phone Child

1. Study Online: Enrolling in an online class or certification to update and validate your credentials is a perfect way to stay “fresh” and “current” with what is in demand in the market today. You can tailor classes to fit your schedule, loading up your schedule for slower months or taking one class in busier seasons, all without the commute to a campus. You’ll be able to work on your own time, without having to be distracted waiting for the Comcast guy who never comes, or having to interrupt a lecture to go pick up your kids from soccer practice. Check out the following free online course websites below to get started:
Khan Academy: With over 3,000 videos on subjects ranging from welding, to SAT prep, to advanced physics, Khan Academy offers a platform where courses are broken into smaller and shorter videos or text, in order to fit your busy schedule. Coursera: Coursera offers classes ranging from Introduction to Guitar, to Employment Law from some of the top law schools in the U.S. Unlike some other “go at your own pace” sites, the courses are monitored by a professor, so you’ll have to complete your online coursework in a certain amount of time.nMIT Open Courseware: If you’ve always wanted to attend a big-name school with some of the world’s best professors, check out MIT Open Courseware to access the online lectures, readings, course calendar, assignments and study materials.

2. Spruce Up Your Resume: Dust off that outdated resume of yours and spruce it up with an up to date, concise resume, that addresses a past employment gap, and stresses your qualifications and skills relevant to the job you are applying to. An updated and “focused” resume can help leverage your worth and salary, and increase your chances of landing a work-from-home job that fits your schedule. If you are looking for a guide on how to structure your resume and hide unemployment gaps, consider using what is know as a functional resume. There are also work-from-home-Mom resume templates, covering professionals with little to no work experience and those with years of experience.

3. Reach Out to Coworkers: It can be easy to fall into a social and professional rut while working at home, due to loneliness and the lack of interaction in the traditional sense with coworkers. Make an effort to get out there and be an extrovert, as the organic building of work relationships and opportunities is more limited, but not completely out the window. Forego an informidable email or text to your boss or coworkers in favor of a phone call or coffee.

4. Establish Work Boundaries and a Schedule to Remove Distractions: For professional success and efficiency, you need to mentally separate between mom and businesswoman. The issue: most of the time, you never know which role you are playing. Try designating an area of your house or apartment to be used as a work station. Implementing a system with your children to let them know when “Mommy means business” can also be extremely effective. Try using a red-light, green-light system, where a green light posted on your office door means your children can be loud and interrupt, while a yellow light allows for mild interruption, and red allowing interruption only in case of emergencies.

5. Dress for Success: Professional dress and attire can serve as a catalyst for a productive day by establishing a professional aura and mindset. You don’t need to throw on heels or pantsuit, but ditching the flip flops and bathrobe in favor of business casual is a step in the right direction. A good rule of thumb is to be in something that could withstand a surprise visit from a neighbor or even a colleague. If you are physically prepared for the day, your mental state will follow, leading to a more productive day. Unsure of what to wear? CorporetteMoms.com – dubbed as fashion for the “overachieving moms and moms-to-be,” addresses everything from makeup to budget outfits, and even get-ups for your children.

6. Keep It Legal: When searching for work-from-home job opportunities, you’ll likely be working as an independent contractor rather than as an employee. Use an Independent Contractor Agreement to outline your duties under the employer, liabilities, and expenses. Doing so will give you a clear and structured understanding of what is expected and the specific deadlines you will need to meet. Understandably, working as an independent contract can be a daunting thought, as employees enjoy predetermined, set benefits, including; paid vacation, health insurance, paid sick days, and clear tax deductions. However, independent contractors benefit from an array of incentives, including unfettered freedom to choose jobs and opportunities that appeal to them the most, tax deductions for maintaining a home office, and rights in their intellectual property. Don’t dismiss a great opportunity due to apprehension or confusion over minor legalities and tax deductions.

This Mother’s Day, take a proactive step towards “tuning” yourself up professionally in order to stay in demand in the market while working from home. Afterall, it’s time you did something for you.

 

Author Bio
Rachel Ryan a legal writer for LegalTemplates.net. Rachel specializes in providing professional, diverse and creative articles, equipping individuals with the perfect tools for a variety of legal issues. When she’s not writing awe-inspiring content, she can be found trying to become the next Martha Stewart.

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April 26th, 2017

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When you desire to align your life with God, you first need to hear from Him. I’ve had seasons where I did not feel like I was hearing from God often, and it troubled me. I missed Him, and I wanted to know what I could do.

I went through the usual steps to make sure I wasn’t harboring sin or unforgiveness and was regularly confessing areas of known sin.  I was in my quiet place, but I still struggled to hear from God. I felt like my thoughts would not be quiet long enough for me to hear from God at times. Perhaps you’ve experienced something similar.

stressedout

Two books have made a major impact in my ability to hear from God. The first is John Eldredge’s “Moving Mountains” and especially the “Listening Prayer” chapter. One of the most powerful things I learned was simply asking Jesus what I should pray. Normally I would start right in with giving thanks and praise followed by all of my prayer requests. I would try to hear from God but a lot of times, it was one-way communication.

The other book that has been transformational for me is “4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice” by Mark Virkler. I also watched a YouTube of his teaching, which was very helpful. His book will thrill the intellectuals of the group. For me, it is a bit of overkill, but I still gleaned a lot from the parts I read.

The biggest thing these books helped me discover was two-way dialogue. So when I begin my prayer time now, I find a quiet place. I still my mind and ask God to allow me to only hear His voice – the voice of the Uncreated.  I sometimes try to picture myself with Jesus in a calming setting like near a river in the mountains. Then I ask Him, “Lord what do you have for me today?” or “What should I be praying in regards to this person or this issue?”  I then begin writing what comes to mind and the words start to flow. I don’t analyze or try to figure it out as I’m writing. I just write until there’s no more to write. If God is speaking to you, what you write will align with Scripture.

I feel like I have regular two-way communication now with my King. He has given me reluctance where I was ready to plow forward and told me to close a door at least for now. I’m learning to obey and trust He has a purpose in all things even when I don’t understand. His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8) but He promises to bring good out of all things. (Romans 8:28)

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April 19th, 2017

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Perhaps the most difficult time in a believer’s life is when circumstances and events of extreme nature occur creating crisis moments of wondering, “Where is God in all of this?”  Why is it that God sometimes miraculously answers prayers in certain situations yet seems to be non-existent in others?  Why do bad things happen to good people?

Trees in fog

The answer to these most difficult questions are not easily explained but found in the life of one who has learned to trust the Creator who is supremely sovereign over all. Could it be as simple as God desires us, His creation, to be ever so dependent on Him in all circumstances?  Could it be more about the journey through life and the strengthening of our relationship with God that matters more than what this world has to offer?  Could it be about deepening and strengthening our relationship with family and other believers?  Could it be about directing our focus on things of eternal Significance?  Could it truly be about what Jesus Christ himself said in Matthew 6, “Store up for yourself treasures in Heaven for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

When believers choose to trust God through valleys of crisis when things just don’t make sense, they shift the unknown, fear and burden onto a God who can do immeasurably more than we can even imagine (Eph 31:6).  We put the outcome of our situation in God’s hands who promises He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Deut 31:6)  By putting our hope and faith in God, it pleases God, for the scriptures say “It is impossible to please God without faith and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Heb 11:6)  This unnatural decision by a believer will brings God’s promised Peace.  When we willfully empty ourselves of stress and control, God has room to pour His abundant peace and presence into us and our situation.

Perhaps the most notable display of this faith and trust in God was when 3 Israelites in the Old Testament were ordered to bow down and worship King Nebuchandnezzar or be thrown into a blazing fire. Before being thrown into the fire they said, “The God we serve is able to save us from the fire and He will rescue us from your hand, but even if he does not, we want you to know oh King, we will not serve your Gods or worship you.” (Daniel 3)

Though faith in Jesus Christ, we are assured of eternal life in heaven.  Have you trusted Him as your Savior? Will you?

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April 13th, 2017

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Parenting is full of fears you never knew you had. Diaper rash. Car seat safety. Weird snuffly noises. And chief among them? Your baby’s sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends room-sharing to prevent SIDS and promote parent-child bonding. But the next step — transitioning baby to his own room — can be challenging and full of new fears. Here’s how to pull it off so baby feels safe and you feel like a human again:

mother and child daughter with a book and a flashlight before going to bed

How to Smooth the Transition for Baby

1. Start Small

Going cold turkey on sleeping with mom and dad can be difficult for a toddler. Instead, start with nap time. As baby gradually gets used to sleeping in his own room during the day, you can start introducing the idea of sleeping there at night, too. Explain the plan to him beforehand. Try feeding and rocking him to sleep in his room. If he wakes up and fusses, you can bring him back to your room for part of the night. Then, gradually increase the amount of time he spends in his own room each night.

2. Share Baby’s Room

If the transition proves too difficult, try sleeping in baby’s room for a little while. With parents nearby, baby may become more comfortable with his new surroundings and gradually come to accept his room as a safe place to sleep. Then, once good sleeping is established, you can move back to your room.

3. Wait for a Happy Time

Ease baby’s transition by attempting the move during a happy and healthy time. If baby is sick, toilet training or teething, he will wake and cry more frequently. Moving to a new bedroom during an already tumultuous time may turn your sweet little prince or princess into a furious creature of the night. Instead, make only one change at a time.

4. Bring on the Comfort

Moving to a new sleep environment is stressful for anyone (think about the last time you slept well in a strange bed!). So incorporate lots of comforting bedtime rituals during this transition, like story time, rocking, cuddling, or nursing. Consider putting baby to bed with a favorite stuffed animal, warm water bottle or a soothing white noise machine nearby that simulates the sound of a heart beat.

How to Smooth the Transition for Mom and Dad

1. Keep an Eye Out

Anxiety about what could be happening to your baby in the next room will stop your sleep in its tracks. To calm your nerves, install an HD wi-fi security camera in the baby’s room. Mobile connectivity, motion-triggered push notifications, and two-way audio capabilities will help you discreetly monitor baby from a distance and give you peace of mind.

2. Take Turns

If baby wakes more frequently in his own bed at first, try taking turns to get up and comfort baby every other night while the other parent sleeps undisturbed. Allowing yourselves to get enough sleep will help you both have the patience, tenderness and wisdom needed to be a good parent during this transition.

3. Get Support

Watching your child go through a tough change can be even tougher on a loving parent. If the change proves to be too intimidating, reach out to other parents for support. Join a mom’s group or online community. Ask others for their tips, or simply listen to their stories and realize that this will not last forever. Cherish baby’s neediness now — soon he will be walking and talking and all grown up!

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April 13th, 2017

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For many mothers, the idea of working from home represents the best of both worlds. You can still bring in an income to help with household expenses, yet you’re also available whenever your children need you. If you’re interested in setting up your own home business, the following steps can help you get there.

Create an Office Space

HomeOffice copy

 

One of the most important things you’ll need for your home business is an office space. Ideally, your office will be a private room in the house where you can close the door if you need privacy. This will also help you create boundaries so you’re not tempted to do work during family time or take care of household chores when you should be working. If you don’t have an extra room in the house, consider putting up room dividers around a corner to create some privacy for your office.

No matter where you set up your office space, you’ll need basic furniture such as a desk, filing cabinet, and bookshelf. Depending on what type of home business you plan on running, you might also need to invest in other office products, such as a printer, printer paper, notepads, pens, pencils, a stapler, and paper clips.

Check for Necessary Licenses

While your home business likely doesn’t face the same laws and regulations as a large corporation, you do need to see whether your business requires any special licenses to operate. Some businesses, such as a home-based childcare center, require special occupational licenses. If you have to file tax forms to report your business income, chances are good you’ll also need a state business license.

Finally, some counties, cities, and even homeowner and condominium associations have restrictions on using residential property for an income-producing activity. Make sure you check for any such restrictions before you start your home-based business.

Create Your Work Hours

One of the advantages of setting up a home business is that you can decide what your work hours are. Often, this means you won’t have the same hours as a traditional workday. If you’re a morning person, you might find it better to wake up before everyone else to get some work done. On the other hand, if you’re a night owl, you might get your best work done when the rest of the house is asleep.

Set Up Professional Voicemail

Since you might not always be at your desk to answer the phone, it’s a good idea to set up a voicemail account to catch any missed calls. If you don’t want to pay for a separate business phone line, you can create a professional voicemail message on your personal phone. Whether you decide to use a separate line or your personal line, phone providers like T-Mobile make it easy to get started with voicemail instructions that are quick and easy.

Consider Business Liability Insurance

Accidents and mistakes can happen, and sometimes the best way to protect yourself and your business is with business liability insurance. If you’re providing professional services to others, professional liability insurance can protect you from liability due to negligence, malpractice, omissions, and errors. If you’re selling a product, product liability insurance can protect you if someone is injured while using your product. Additionally, general liability insurance can protect your business from claims involving property damage and injury.

Get Help From Others

Even though you work from home, you might find yourself in situations where you need outside help with your children. Whether you have an important deadline or numerous calls you need to return, don’t feel ashamed to get help from others on very busy days. Letting your children spend the day with grandparents, a babysitter, or at daycare will give you the uninterrupted time you need. If you know other working moms, you can even work together to arrange playdates when one of you needs the extra time to work.

While starting your own home business can be a big change in your life, it can also be very rewarding for your family. Keep these steps in mind if you decide you’re ready to set up your home-based business.

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March 27th, 2017

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God has really been working on me in the area of surrender for the past couple of years. For most of my adult life, I’ve surrendered parts of my life to God but not all – not everything. I suppose subconsciously I was afraid of what it would mean to “surrender all” as the song goes. What will He call me to surrender?  Like most people, I want control. To give over control to someone else is both scary and uncertain. What if God calls me to move away, to change jobs, to sell our home, to become a missionary, to give more money away? What if……? What if?

Be Content

I had to ask myself were any of those “what-ifs” worth more than following God with every ounce of my heart and being obedient to Him? Was our home worth it? Were our finances worth it?  What are His plans anyway? He promises us in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Had He not proven Himself faithful in the past? Had He not comforted and provided every step of the way when I was faced with an unwanted divorce? Had He not provided for my kids and me when I was a single mom? Had He not canceled a big hospital debt miraculously when I had no insurance and needed an emergency appendectomy?  Had He not provided for me and my two brothers when my father took his life and my mom was unable to properly care for us as kids?  The list goes on and on. And the answer was Yes on every one of those. He had proven faithful and has been faithful in every area of my life.

So the question became, will I trust Him enough to surrender everything to Him? My answer has become over the past couple of years….. yes Lord yes. I do trust You not only with my life but with our “stuff”, with our businesses and with our children. I know that does not mean a trouble free, easy path but neither does not surrendering to You.  And I would much rather have God and His power on my side than to go at it alone. There is freedom in surrender, and there is also sweet intimacy with the King.

If you would like to know about growing a relationship with the God of the universe, click here

 

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March 20th, 2017

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If you work from home, technology is your friend. Just a couple decades ago the idea you could be a stay-at-home mom who also makes a living wage was pretty unrealistic. Today, it’s commonplace, and that’s due in large part to technology. The internet, Wi-Fi, laptops and smartphones are all tools that give working moms the ability to be at home while continuing their careers. There’s one other way technology is helping us industrious mothers: the smart home.

Office workers networking

It helps you manage, control and monitor your household from wherever you are—your home office, the soccer field sidelines or on vacation—with your smartphone. Devices such as smart thermostats, smart lighting, smart washing machines and smart ovens help you run your home more efficiently.

If you are going to start taking advantage of these great conveniences, however, it’s important to do all you can to secure them. Anything connected to the internet—your computer, smart TV, Roku or smart crockpot—is a potential entry point for hackers. What’s so bad about a hacker getting “into” your crockpot? Other than a ruined dinner, the hacker can use that access to your network to leapfrog from crockpot to iMac, and once there, your business and personal files are exposed. Hackers can also use connected devices to create “Botnet armies” to take down websites, as happened late last year.

It’s very difficult to stop a determined hacker, but you can certainly make it harder for them, and less likely that opportunist attackers will target you. There are three important steps you can take to make sure your devices are more secure.

1.     Secure Your Passwords

When you set up any internet-connected device, always change the password. If a device doesn’t give you the option to do this, do not use it. Default passwords that aren’t changed are an open invitation—they don’t even require any skill to “hack.”

Make sure you choose a unique and complicated password for every device you use, just as you do for all the websites you use. Make sure it is not a word found in the dictionary, include uppercase and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols, and make it at least eight characters long. Using a password manager like LastPass or 1Password makes this a lot easier.

2.     Create a Separate Smart Home Wi-Fi Network

Most modern Wi-Fi routers let you create a guest network that has a different name and password from your primary network. Put all your connected devices on this network—smart speakers, smart TVs, smart lightbulbs, smart doorbells, anything that connects wirelessly to the internet but doesn’t have business or personal files on it. Keep your computers and laptops on the main network. By separating your computers from the guest network, you prevent hackers from being able to jump from your smart thermostat into your personal computer.

Setting up a guest network is simple to do. Access your router’s setting using a web browser (by typing your IP address into the address bar). Every router has a slightly different procedure, but essentially, you’ll need to go into settings and find the Guest Network option. Create a network name and a (strong) password, then enable the network.

Now, whenever you get a new smart home device that needs Wi-Fi access, simply choose this network rather than your main one. You also want to go back and switch any existing devices over to this network. It’s important to put all the devices on the same network, especially if they communicate with each other. Otherwise, they may not work properly. You’ll also need to put your smartphone on this network when you want to use it to control the devices inside the house, but you can switch back to your primary network for all other uses.

3.     Hide Your Wi-Fi Network and Disable WPS and UPnP

While you’re in the router setting, it’s a good idea to hide your Wi-Fi networks from public view. This means people will have to know its name as well as the password to connect to it. This won’t prevent a dedicated hacker from sniffing out the signal, but it does at least shield you from prying eyes. Another easy security fix is to disable WPS and UPnP on the router, which are convenience features that allow you and others to bypass your firewall. Unless you are a big-time online gamer, you don’t need these, and you’re safer with them turned off.

Take these steps to protect your smart home devices and you can rest assured knowing your home is easily managed and—most importantly—safe and secure.

 

Jennifer Tuohy is a working-from-home mom of two children who writes about her passion for tech for The Home Depot. She provides helpful advice on setting up your Wi-Fi network and preventing it from getting hacked. You can find a wide range of wireless router options, like those Jennifer discusses, from The Home Depot here.

 

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February 22nd, 2017

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When you fell off your bike and scraped your knee, your mom hugged you, wiped away your tears and applied a magical Band-Aid. When you were an all-knowing 16-year-old, your dad patiently taught you to drive, spending hours in the car watching you resist everything he was trying to tell you.

Now, these same two wonderful people — your parents — are getting older, and it is time for you to step up to the caregiving plate.

Woman taking care of her disabled grandmother

While you are happy to care for your mom and dad as much as you can, your folks might have other ideas. Whether they don’t want to worry you or are scared to become a burden as they age, some elderly parents are really resistant to the idea of their child assisting them. To help overcome their objections, try out these tips:

Start Communication Early

The time to start talking with your aging parents about caregiving is not after your mom has taken a fall or when your normally neat-freak dad is letting basic housekeeping slip. If you can, have a laid-back conversation with them before a crisis takes place. Watch for opportunities in day-to-day conversation to mention getting some help — “Hey Dad, if you had a housekeeper come in once or twice a month you’d have even more time to play golf!” or “Mom, I saw an interesting checklist about how to keep a house safe from falls — can we go through your house and make sure it’s safe?”

Get Them an Innovative Activity Tracker

Your parents might balk at getting a wearable alert system. Sympathize with their feelings and instead offer them a less conspicuous activity tracker. The Lively Wearable is a fun-to-use fitness tracker for seniors. It’ll keep track of their steps and heart rate, and -when worn properly- also works as an alert system if mom or dad take a fall and need help. This will not only make them more confident to stay independent, but it will also give you peace of mind as you’ll be notified in the case of an accident.

Be Careful How You Word Things

Remember when your room was a mess and your mom told you to clean it up or you would be grounded until you were 50? You probably didn’t feel very motivated to spend your precious teenage weekend time straightening up your stuff. As Aging Care notes, choose your words carefully when talking to your parents about caregiving. Instead of saying “I don’t think you are a safe driver anymore so I’m taking you to your dentist appointment,” try something like “I have a free morning. How about I drive you to your appointment and then we can go have lunch afterward?” Keeping your suggestions positive will go a long way in getting your parents to accept help.

Channel Your Inner Detective

If your mom or dad says “I don’t need help, and that’s that,” spend some time asking gentle yet pointed questions as to why your parents are so reluctant to accept assistance. Listen to your folks and validate what they are feeling. See if your dad will say he is worried about spending all of his hard-earned savings on hiring a caregiver, or your mom is nervous about having a stranger come into the house to clean. Once you know their specific fears and concerns, it might be easier to help set their minds at ease and be more open to getting help.

Dealing with aging parents is a delicate situation. Be patient, listen closely to what they’re saying and approach with suggestions rather than requirements. These traits will make them more receptive to help.

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February 21st, 2017

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Online collaboration is becoming the new normal for many businesses. The number of U.S. workers who telecommute at least part of the time climbed from 30 percent in 2008 to 37 percent in 2015, an annual Gallup poll found. The number of companies that employ some or all workers who telecommute all of the time grew from 26 to 125 between 2014 and 2016, according to FlexJobs research. For companies that employ remote workers, online collaboration tools are an essential part of doing business. Here are four ways companies are using collaboration tools to improve their business communication.

Office workers networking

Centralizing Communication

When everyone worked on an office PC, email was a relatively efficient collaboration tool. When you’re running a business from an Android device such as a Samsung Galaxy S7, email isn’t quite as optimal. For one thing, email is designed primarily for one-on-one communication, but when you’re trying to collaborate with a group of people, referencing an email from a conversation that occurred before one of the participants joined can be confusing. This problem gets compounded if a conversation crosses from email into other channels such as phone calls, texting and social media. Another limitation of email is that each person in the thread can potentially have a different version of the same document, making it difficult to keep editing updates in sync.

To address these issues, many companies are turning to real-time collaboration tools that abandon the email paradigm in favor of a communication platform modeled on social media, where groups of people can see the same conversation at the same time and can stay in sync on document updates. One of the most popular of these newer collaboration tools is Slack, which earned its namesake company the Inc. 2015 Company of the Year Award. Slack provides teams with chat rooms organized by topic, where team members can exchange direct messages and files and search all content from a single location.

Streamlining Project Management

Real-time collaboration tools lend themselves to more efficient project management. Where email-based project management suffers from the same limitations as email collaboration, real-time project management tools let project leaders manage group tasks in an online social space shared by all team members. Managers can see all projects at a glance, break projects up into tasks and subtasks, delegate each task to a team member, communicate with team members from a single location and track project progress. Today’s top-rated project management tools include LiquidPlanner, Zoho Projects and Workfront.

Providing Omnichannel Customer Service

Real-time collaboration tools also enable remote customer service teams to deliver omnichannel customer service. In today’s connected world, a customer service ticket may cross multiple media channels, starting on live chat, progressing to a phone call, and getting followed up via email, for example. In the process, multiple representatives may handle the ticket. This can make it challenging to provide customer service in the event one representative has to repeat questions another representative has already asked, slowing response time and annoying customers.

Cloud-based customer contact centers resolve this issue by providing a single online platform where customer service teams can collaborate to resolve customer issues. Some of today’s leading cloud contact center solutions include Freshdesk, Zendesk and Samanage.

Tracking Communication Effectiveness

You can also use collaboration tools to measure the effectiveness of your internal and external communication. For instance, you can use your project management app to monitor key performance indicators such as how fast employees respond to communication via different media, how quickly projects get turned around and how different members of your team are performing. You can also track KPIs associated with your customer service, such as number of tickets per media channel, average response time and average number of contacts per ticket resolution.

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