Clever Emergency Fund Solutions To Keep You From Becoming Homeless

Picture this: Your car blows up & your warranty is a thing of the past, you get sick and can’t even go to work much less pay the doctor, your employer folds up and files for bankruptcy or that baby you have been waiting for turns into three right before your very eyes.s What are you going to do?

Your stress level just shot through the roof, but this is life and nobody’s lane is bump-free. Hell, I’m not sure mine is even paved. It’s small things like this that can throw you off track quickly.

According to the Fed’s most recent survey40% of Americans would struggle to pay for an unexpected $400 expense without selling something or borrowing money. So whether you think of it as an emergency fund, a rainy day account, a financial cushion, or an “uncertainty fund,” you need one.

HOW MUCH DO YOU REALLY NEED TO HAVE IN AN ‘EMERGENCY FUND’?

At Ellevest, we typically recommend that you set aside three to six months’ worth of your take-home pay for emergencies. That can feel like a really big number, especially if you’re starting from scratch … but it’s one of the most important things you can do with your money. Because imagine if you needed it and didn’t have it. (Ouch.)

We can almost hear you thinking it: Three to six months is kind of a range. How much do I really need? There are two things that come into play during that decision: how much uncertainty you might have to face and your personal comfort level.

The shakier your financial ground is, the more you need to have.

FOR EXAMPLE

if you freelance full-time as a single mom and own a fixer-upper, you’re probably going to want closer to six months’ (or more) of your salary saved up. (Also, you are a superhero and we bow down to your amazingness.) Or if you’ve been in a steady, salaried job for a while, share finances with someone (like a spouse), and have no dependents and no mortgage, three months is probably good for you. (Heck yeah. You’re killing it.)

But maybe you’re in a stable, salaried job and share finances with someone in a stable, salaried job — and yet, three months doesn’t feel like enough security for you. In that case, save more. These are just guidelines, so do what feels best for you. (Just don’t keep all your money in cash. That can really cost you)

Once you’ve decided on how much you need to have there are three things that can help you get there.

  1. Pay down high-interest-rate debt — anything more than 5% — before you get started. Waiting to pay that debt off can really cost you.
  2. Find a high-level budgeting guideline that’s flexible enough to work for your life. Like the 50/30/20 rule.
  3. Work your way up, and set mini-goals along the way. Maybe your first goal is $1,000, and then one month’s expenses, and then two, and then three.

WHERE SHOULD YOU KEEP YOUR EMERGENCY FUND?

Keep your emergency fund in cash in a bank account. Make sure that’s FDIC insured.

Ellevest’s Emergency Fund goal is held in FDIC cash, so that might be a good place. High-yield savings accounts are another option. We don’t recommend putting your emergency fund in a certificate of deposit (CD) or any other type of account that doesn’t let you make withdrawals whenever you want. Don’t risk it.

WHEN SHOULD YOU USE YOUR EMERGENCY FUND?

Definitely an emergency: Anything unexpected that you absolutely must pay for. Your water heater breaks. You have to travel to see a sick loved one.

Definitely not an emergency: Things you want but don’t really need, or things that you could save up for. Think last-minute vacation plans or your annual insurance premiums.

But there’s also a gray area, and that’s different for everyone — here’s Ellevest’s best advice to help you decide what is and isn’t an emergency for you.

Saving up three to six months’ take-home pay, in cash, for emergencies only, is one of the earliest steps you can make if you want to take control of your financial future. (Wondering about the others? We’ve got you. Here are smart money moves to make at every age.)

Are you ready to start investing in your future you? Ellevest can help!

*I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.

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You Need To Start Investing ASAP & Here’s Why

Have you come up with excuses why you’re not investing right this minute?

Excuses like these:

  1. It will be easier once I get that raise.
  2. I just don’t have time.
  3. It’s overwhelming to think about learning to invest properly.
  4. Money just makes me squeamish.

Believe me, I used all of these excuses and even more. I have avoided money conversations my whole life, but at 49 I realize that I am only hurting myself. If I had started younger I’d be much better off when I get older. Still starting is much better than not… at any age.

WE LOSE MONEY EVERY SINGLE DAY WHEN WE DON’T INVEST

It’s easy to put investing off. But every single day you wait could cost you about $100. Yes … a Benjamin according to Ellevest. Click To Tweet

Give Ellevest a try!

“I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.”

 

 

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How To Completely Change How You Feel About Dealing With Money & Ditch The Overwhelm

When I was growing up talking about money was a definite “no”. My parents never discussed things like pay vs. bills, money issues or even how to manage a checking account. So it’s no wonder that today when thinking about money I start to get anxious immediately.

My stomach starts hurting, I can feel my heart beating faster and I want to run far, far away. Even as a business owner dealing with the financial aspects like paying bills, investing in my business or even sending out invoices stresses me out.

I’m tired of feeling like this and I just bet that I’m not alone. Do you feel anxious or stressed when you think of your finances? My biggest fear is becoming homeless even though it’s basically happened twice & we’ve survived both times. I have nightmares of living in a cardboard box, under a freeway bridge searching garbage cans for scraps of thrown out food.

This year, I’ve decided to put myself smack in the middle of that ‘uncomfortable’ feeling and find ways to be able to gain that financial freedom, ditch the nightmares, pull up my big girl panties and put a stop to those overwhelming feeling.

That’s why I’ve partnered with Ellevest who specializes in investing for women. Here is what they say about the ‘overwhelm of money’:

That kind of feeling comes in a lot of different flavors. For some of us, the words “money” and “someday” always go together — it just never seems to be the right time to think about it. Some of us give a hard pass to the thought of making a budget. Some of us have made a few mistakes along the way that we’re scared to face. And some of us just feel lost and overwhelmed about knowing where to start.

So that’s us. If it sounds like you, here’s something good to fight the bad. Those feelings are valid. And they also don’t have to be permanent. You’re not alone. And no matter where you start, there are always things you can do to move forward.

Six Steps To Overcoming Financial Stress

You might think that sitting down to organize your money will be overwhelming and generally unpleasant, but we’re willing to bet that it’ll actually make you feel more in control. All you have to do is do the damn thing.

But you don’t have to go into this process blind. Here’s a checklist of steps you can take (and some deeper advice on each one, too). We recommend starting at the top and working your way down, one at a time, at a pace that works for you.

  1. Give your brain a boost. Picture a future where you’ve already done the thing. You don’t magically have a ridiculous pile of cash — but you’ve taken the time to think about your goal, you’ve thought about tradeoffs along the way, and you’ve mapped out the steps you’ll take. Sometimes projecting that feeling of accomplishment before you do anything else can get you from “bad feeling” to “hey … I can do this.”
  2. Look at your current spending habits. Use them to make a high-level spending plan for the future. Here is a great how-to
  3. Join your employers 401k plan. Here is why they are so important.
  4. Pay off your highest-interest debt first. It’s costing you a lot so getting rid of that is a huge money-saver. Here are a couple of approaches that can work.
  5. Set a goal for an emergency fund. Work on building it up so you don’t have to play that dreaded ‘what-if’ game any longer. This can help.
  6. Make a plan to invest for your goals. That might include retirement, buy a house someday, have kids, starting your own business, or just growing your net worth.

Some Ideas To Make It All Easier

Break It Down

If that list above looks like a mountain, just break it down into smaller more doable bits. Something like this:

GOAL

  • Look at your current spending habits and use the 50/30/20 rule to make a future spending plan.
  • Log in to your bank account and download your most recent account statement.
  • Make three “buckets”: Needs, Fun, and Future You. Categorize each purchase from your bank statement into one of these buckets, and then add them up. This is how your spending looks today.
  • Look at your most recent paystub. What’s the final amount of the check? That’s your take-home pay. Multiply that by the number of paychecks you get each month to find your monthly take-home pay.
  • Calculate 50% of that number (for needs), 30% of that number (for fun), and 20% of that number (for Future You).
  • Look at your current spending habits and see whether you can make adjustments so that you’re spending within those buckets. If it isn’t doable, adjust the buckets’ percentages until they work for your real life.
  • Aim to stay inside your buckets next month. Then, next month, see if you can tweak things to get them closer to that 50/30/20 ratio — and then plan to keep adjusting on the reg.

Once you have your little bitty steps, you can start with just the first one. Or maybe you do three little bitty steps at a time. Or you go until you really want to stop, and then you take a break.

This can really help you build momentum — and it can also help you avoid that big overwhelmed feeling by focusing on one small thing at a time.

SCHEDULE A FUN THING LATER

If money stuff has a history of making you feel bad, try this trick: doing it right before doing something you know will make you feel good. Like drinks with friends. Or your favorite workout class. Or curling up with a good book. (Sure, it’s a little Pavlovian, but hey, mood boosters are mood boosters.) if you have something to look forward to after you do The Big Thing, you might be more motivated to keep going as you work through it.

LET GO OF ‘HAVE-TO’

“Ugh, I really do have to sit down and deal with my money this weekend” probably isn’t a mindset that’s doing you any favors. Neither is “I have GOT to stop spending so much” or “Wow, I have to stop being such a hot mess with my money.” You wouldn’t try to motivate your best friend that way, would you?

Switching off the “I must do this” mindset — which can feel unforgiving and judgmental, and who needs more self-criticism? The magic is trying to shift it to something more positive. Maybe a “This is a thing I’m doing for myself” mindset. Or a “Hey maybe I can’t get a raise tomorrow but I can do this” mindset. Or an “” mindset. Or whatever mantra works for you.

THINK OF IT AS SELF-CARE

The idea behind today’s self-care movement is to protect your mental health so that you can bring our best self to your everyday life. The stress will disappear, your self-esteem will get a huge boost & you’ll feel better about today & tomorrow.

But here’s the thing:

While money is people’s number 1 reason for stress , the act of saving and investing are the biggest boost of women’s confidence when it comes to building the future we want. So if finally dealing with the money stuff is going to improve your mental health — by helping to knock out all that stress and guilt and anxiety about money, and helping you feel good about tomorrow — then doesn’t that count as self-care too? (Note: This is also extremely compatible with candles and wine. Just sayin’.)

Bankrate.com has written a great piece on the benefits of paying off debt and you can find it here.

Are you ready to ditch the overwhelm & prepare for the future you want to have?

Give Ellevest a try!

“I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.”

 

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How to Pay Off Debt and Take Control of Your Money

The average American has more than $38,000 in personal debt. That includes credit cards, personal loans, student loans, etc. (Oof.) So it’s not particularly surprising that when you ask people what their biggest money goals are, many of them say paying off debt.

Easier wished than actually done … so how do you make a plan that works? Two popular options: the “avalanche method” and the “snowball method.” (Kind of randomly snow-related names, but bear with us.)

The debt avalanche method

Also called “debt stacking,” this is the debt-paydown method we typically recommend because it’s designed to help you pay as little as possible in interest. Here’s how it works:

  1. Make a list of all your debts. That means each individual student loan, each credit card, each car loan, etc. Write them down along with their interest rates and balances.
  2. Put them in order from highest interest rate to lowest. If two debts have a pretty similar interest rate, put the one with the smaller outstanding balance higher up on the list.
  3. Keep paying all the minimum payments on each debt (otherwise, you’ll get hit with late fees and maybe even a hit to your credit score). And then …
  4. Put any extra money you can find in your budget toward the debt at the top of the list. The debt at the top is the one with the highest interest rate. (Side hustles can really come in clutch here.)
  5. Keep going until that #1 debt is paid off completely. Then take the total payment you’ve been putting toward that debt (including its minimum) and start putting it toward #2. That means the total amount of money you’re putting toward all your debt every month won’t change.
  6. Keep going! We typically recommend that you focus on paying off the debts that have an interest rate greater than 5%. But for the debts with interest rates under 5%, just keep paying the minimums. Once you get to that point, it’s historically been worth putting your extra money toward investing instead. Here’s why.

This saves you money because, all other things being equal, knocking out the higher interest rates first will mean you’ll pay less in interest. And paying less means you’ll pay it all off more quickly.

The downside of the debt avalanche: Getting rid of debt usually takes a while, especially if your balances are high. You might have a long-ish wait between each “I paid one off!” celebration. So you’ll be putting in a lot of effort over a long period of time with few milestones, and that can be … less than motivating. If you find yourself having trouble sticking with the debt avalanche method, the debt snowball might be a better option for you.

The debt snowball method

The debt snowball method works exactly the same as the debt avalanche method, with one difference: Instead of putting your debts in order from highest interest rate to lowest, you order them from smallest outstanding balance to largest. Then follow the rest of the steps the same way.

With the snowball approach, your first “self-five” celebration moment will come a lot sooner because you’re paying the smallest balance first. And then, because your payments “snowball” (in a good way — they get bigger and bigger with every debt you pay off), you get to the next self-five sooner too. And then the next one. And then the next one. The idea here is that our brains like self-fives, so you’ll be more likely to keep going with your plan for the long haul.

The downside of the debt snowball: This method doesn’t reduce your interest payments as quickly as the debt avalanche method, so you’ll likely end up paying more overall. But it could help you get out of debt faster if it does a better job of motivating you to consistently pay more than the minimums.

So … which one’s better for paying off that debt?

Ultimately, that’s going to be a you thing. You could “snowball” your payments to keep motivation high, or you could move down the debt mountain faster, like an avalanche, obliterating those interest payments along the way.

Ellevest has a strong aversion to having to pay more interest than absolutely necessary, so we usually recommend the debt avalanche method. But if the debt snowball is more motivating for you, that’s cool too. The important thing is that you’re knocking out those debts, one at a time, and taking charge of that financial future.

What are you waiting for? GIVE ELLEVEST A TRY!

“I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.”

I DO NOT work with products or services that I don’t honestly believe in.

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Your Life Upgraded: You Matter

Close your eyes. Picture where you want to be a year from now. Five years from now. Forty years from now. What do you need to make that happen?

We want to help you make your money dreams a reality. That’s why Ellevest’s online investing platform is goal-based — you tell us what your financial goals are and when you want to hit them, and then we’ll suggest an investment plan designed to help you slay.

Of course, investing comes with risk, so nothing’s guaranteed. But investing has historically been more powerful than saving alone, and Ellevest’s projections show you the amount we estimate you’ll end up within 70% (or more) of market scenarios going forward.

So let’s do some dreaming.

Upgrade Your Life

Your rainy-day fund

What your savings is now: Intentions? Good. Reality? Let’s go with “working on it.”

Maybe you have some savings in an account that you started one day when you were feeling inspired. And maybe you usually resist the urge to “borrow” from that savings when things get tight, but some moments have been more tempting than others. (Hi, tapas night.) After all, you can always pay yourself back later.

But maybe you read something recently about how a financial emergency can swoop in and cause utter chaos. And you’re determined to save more … tomorrow.

Enter: Ellevest’s Emergency Fund goal, which helps you to gradually save up three to six months’ worth of take-home pay in cash.

What your savings could be like in one year: You’ve got several months’ worth of your take-home pay stashed away in a designated emergency fund, waiting to back you up if (when) something goes wrong. It feels really good knowing that you have a security blanket — and you’re ready for whatever.

Financial freedom to buy a home

 

Your living situation

What your home is now: Maybe you have two roommates who are mostly great, but who also occasionally don’t clean up after themselves and/or invite unexpected overnight visitors. It’s annoying enough that you’ve started thinking you want to move when the lease is up — but coming up with the cash for a security deposit would not be fun.

Or maybe you and your partner are dreaming of owning your own place together someday. Or maybe you’re starting to plan for kids, and you’re definitely going to need more space. Or maybe it would just be nice to have a shorter commute … and a functional garbage disposal … or even just like ten more square feet of living space.

Enter: Ellevest’s A Place to Call Home goal, which helps you invest toward a home down payment with a default timeline of six years (although you can always change our plans’ timelines to fit your goals).

What your home could be like in six years: You walk through the front door of your home (which you own) and hang your stuff in the coat closet (which you own).

Hear that? That’s the sound of ~not having roommates.~ Or maybe it’s the sound of your fur baby running to greet you as you come in the door. Or maybe it’s your custom sound system playing that song you love so much. Or a kiddo. Whatever it is, it’s home.

Financial freedom to do what you want in your life.

Your kiddo’s future

Your family sitch now: Maybe you just welcomed a tiny human into your home (congrats!), or maybe you’re planning to someday. Kids are unbelievably cute, but you know that they’re probably also going to cost you a lot of money when they get old enough to start doing things that … you know … cost money.

You want to afford whatever they’ll need. But also, you’re now ridiculously busy (and tired), so you’ll figure out how you’ll pay for them … someday.

Enter: Ellevest’s Kids Are Awesome goal, which helps you invest to build a fund for

things like summer camp, extracurriculars, etc., with a default timeline of six years.

What your family sitch could be like in six years: That munchkin is very cute, especially when you’re taking copious videos of them on the soccer field. Or the ballet stage. Or the dojo. Or all of the above — you may have a prodigy on your hands, tbh.

Financial freedom to do what you want when you want.

Your career

Your job now: It’s … fine. You guess. It pays the bills. But you aren’t exactly passionate about what you’re doing, and you don’t wake up excited to go to work every day. You’ve got this itch that says you were always meant to work for yourself.

But you’re probably not quite ready to make the move yet. That genius business idea still needs some testing. Plus, if you quit your job now, you’d be quite broke.

Enter: Ellevest’s Start a Business goal, which helps you invest to pay yourself two years’ worth of salary so you can take that leap. It has a default timeline of five years.

What your job could be like in five years: HEY ENTREPRENEUR. You left that blah job and set off on your own. Your new company has a name and a prospective audience, and your fundraising process is underway. You’re on top of the world. You’re unstoppable. You’re the boss.

Invest with Ellevest to provide for your own dream lifestyle.

That one thing you’ve been dreaming of

Your birthday this year: Four words: “drinks with the girls.” (Another two: “frozen margaritas.” No use denying it.) You’re surrounded by people who love you and who you love back, and life is good.

But that upcoming milestone birthday? That one, you want it to be big. You and the girls will go all out … if you can swing it financially, that is.

Enter: Ellevest’s Big Splurge goal, which lets you invest toward … whatever it is you want. No default timeline; it’s however long you have left until you’ll need the money.

What your birthday could be like on your next milestone: The sound you hear? It’s the voices of your absolute favorite people as you chat away the afternoon sipping wine and eating cheese in a villa in the south of France. (Or trail hiking in Patagonia. Or on a private island anywhere.) You’ve been here for four days, and you have three more ahead of you. Life is goooooood.

Your future grandma self

Your retirement account now: It’s there. It has some money in it. Maybe you’re contributing enough to get your employer match, but you aren’t sure if that’s enough. You’re guessing that you should probably be doing more, but … it’s not exactly the most urgent thing you have to think about, moneywise. And how are you even supposed to know how much you’ll need?

Enter: Ellevest’s Retirement on My Terms goal, which helps you plan and invest for retirement using a super special algorithm that takes your real-life info like your age, income, earning power, and gender into account.

What your actual retirement could look like: You are doing whatever your heart desires. Maybe that means you moved somewhere where you can read by the beach every day. Maybe you’re traveling the world. Maybe you’re pursuing lifelong passions and learning something new each day. Maybe you never retired at all — because you seriously love your job — but you’re doing it differently these days. Maybe you have lots of grandkids you spoil rotten. Maybe you’re on a couple of boards of directors. Maybe you’re doing some other really freaking cool stuff like this or like this. (Or maybe, in fact likely, more than one of the above.)

Enjoy the confidence of financial security

Your financial confidence

How you feel about money now: Maybe you have a love-hate relationship with your money. On the one hand, you’re already doing some good things for yourself. (Truly — why else would you be reading this?)

But maybe thinking and talking about money makes you feel a little squirmy. Because you’re sure that you could be doing more for your future self, but you just haven’t figured out what that is yet. And it’s easy to put it off. (Guess what: You’re not alone.)

Enter: Ellevest’s Build Wealth goal, which helps you invest to just bump up that net worth. It has a default timeline of 20 years. According to our research, the act of saving and investing is the #1 driver of women’s confidence in their future. Meaning just getting started can help you feel good about where you’re going.

How you could feel about money after you start investing: You started with just a few dollars a month, and then you gradually worked your way up (like a boss). Now, you’re doing Future You a favor by investing a good chunk of your paycheck every month. You feel great about your money choices, because you know that you’re making smart moves.

Spoiler alert: These life upgrades don’t have to be just dreams. You can get started right now. In fact, it just takes minutes.

So what are you waiting for? GIVE ELLEVEST A TRY

“I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.”

I DO NOT work with products or services that I don’t honestly believe in. 

 

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Have A Say In Your Own Financial Security

Desktop juggling business & baby things.

It wasn’t that long ago that women had no say in what was done with the finances. Men made, spent it, saved it, and doled it out. Some even had the nerve to call it an allowance to buy groceries for the family.

Over the years while much has changed some things haven’t. Women may make their own money, they may even pay their own way, but we still act as if money is a four-letter word. That needs to change if we’re ever going to consider ourselves equal to men.

Sallie Krawcheck, Co-Founder & CEO of Ellevest has this to say about money:

Talking money is hardly romantic, but it’s totally necessary for any serious relationship. Whether you’ve got a ring on it, are domestically partnered, or sure you’re in it for the long haul —regular money talks are a must.

As we grew up we were taught that it was not polite to talk about money. It was hidden behind a shroud of secrecy that didn’t do any of us any good. Even some of the smartest women make huge mistakes when it comes to money. It’s an ongoing process where you have to be flexible and able to pivot quickly.

Sallie Krawcheck, Co-Founder & CEO of Ellevest, who spent years in the finance industry had this to say about her very own finances:

“After my divorce, I had to deal with the painful and embarrassing realization that while I made my living working in finance, I had no clue what my ex had done with our money during our marriage. (Believe me, I still shake my head when I think about it.)”

 

I’m partnering up with Ellevest.com to not only broaden my own horizons and become money-wise but to share with you important facts that you may need to know to make smart financial decisions as women & as entrepreneurs. Whatever our career choices we need the facts to live our best lives.

Ellevest is a company co-founded by Sallie Krawcheck. It’s an investment company geared especially toward women like us. Women that want to make smart, informed decisions about the life we want to live.

After years in the financial industry, she had her “a-ha” moment when she realized that investing has always been for men and by men. She has made it her mission to change that. Ellevest is comprised of a diverse group such as Financial specialist, engineers, entrepreneurs, and many, many more.

69% of Ellevest team members are women
73% of our leadership team are women
37% of the Ellevest team are people of color

According to the NY Times, women were 80% more likely than men to be impoverished by 65 & older, while women 75-79 were three times more likely to fall below the poverty level. I want to change this future. I want to change my future and now is the time to do it.

Ellevest allows you to create your own financial investment plan absolutely free. If you dream of that restaurant of your very own, or maybe you want to go back to school, or visit Istanbul you need to make a plan and set financial goals the right way.

Ellevest can teach you how and did I mention that it’s FREE? I mentioned earlier that I’m partnering with Ellevest to bring this information to you. If you create your own free financial plan I will earn a small commission from the company. If you decide to check it out and create your own plan please use this unique link so that I may get credit. I really appreciate it. As always, I’m very opinionated and brutally honest. If I thought it was a waste of time I wouldn’t be involved.

I think it’s time we took control of our own financial destiny and not leave it to the men any longer. What do you think? Do you have a financial long term plan? Do you have a dream that you want to fulfill? Let me know in the comments below.

GIVE ELLEVEST A TRY!

“I’m excited to work with Ellevest to start conversations about women and money. If you become a client, I will be compensated.”

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Step-by-Step Sales Funnel Planning

 

Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of setting up your sales funnel? You’re not alone. Many online business owners fail to properly plan out their funnel, and it shows.

They have an opt-in incentive that doesn’t appeal to their audience.

Their follow-up emails don’t flow naturally from the opt-in.

Messages are unbalanced—either too many sales pitches or not enough. Even worse, the offers don’t match the market.

Making these mistakes is common, so if you recognize yourself here, don’t feel bad. The good news? There’s an easy fix.

Step 1: Survey your market

All too often we think we know what our readers and potential buyers want, but in reality, we’re simply guessing. We make the mistake of believing that we are our market, but that usually is not the case.

The only way to know for sure what your market truly wants and needs is to ask them. Set up a simple survey (even a Google form will work) and ask your blog readers, social media followers, and email list to give their opinion.

Do this right, and you’ll know exactly what you should be offering your audience, plus, you’ll know that language to use on your opt-in page.

Step 2: Create your opt-in

Now that you know what your market needs, it’s time to create your opt-in incentive. Keep in mind that readers today seem to prefer simple, easy-to-digest offers rather than 200-page eBooks or 7-part video series. This makes your job a bit easier, too.

Some popular choices for opt-in incentives include:

  • Checklists
  • Worksheets
  • Resource guides
  • Video training
  • Webinars
  • Audio downloads

 

Step 3: Map out your autoresponder

Every good opt-in incentive should be followed up with a series of emails that build on the material. If you’ve offered a resource guide, for example, then your follow-up emails might include usage tips for each of the resources, or case studies that show how others have benefited from using the tools.

Step 4: Make an offer

Arguably the most important part of your funnel, your offer must be the logical next step for readers to take. They’ve worked through your opt-in incentive, read and acted on your emails, and they’re hungry for more. Time to make your offer.

Just like the other pieces of your funnel, your coaching offer needs to be the answer to your readers’ most burning questions. If you consider your opt-in and follow-up series to be the “lite” version, then your coaching offer is the premium package. Bigger, beefier, and the perfect next step.

Before you post your first opt-in code, take some time to map out your funnel according to these steps, and you’ll not only fill your funnel faster, but you’ll close more sales along the way.

 

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Top Tools For Building Your Sales Funnel

blue envelopes laying beside a laptop

Ready to start building out your sales funnels? There are just a few things you need before you can get started. Here are some of the most popular options when it comes to putting together both free and paid funnels: 

Lead Pages—when it comes to building opt-in pages, LeadPages.net is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal. They’ve tracked and tested a variety of page styles to determine which ones convert best, and they make it easy for you to build similar pages for your funnel.

It does come with a monthly fee, though, so before investing, you’ll want to be sure you can recoup your investment.

Instabuilder—similar to LeadPages, but without the monthly investment. Instabuilder is a plugin for WordPress that allows you to create your own funnels. It includes several funnel templates and a drag-and-drop page builder that makes it easy to get just the look you want.

AWeber—Probably the easiest email manager on the market today, AWeber is the choice for many small business owners, not only because it’s simple to use, but because it’s also economical. Starting at less than $20 per month for up to 500 subscribers, AWeber offers both autoresponders and broadcast emails, list automation, and segmenting, so you can send emails exactly when—and to whom—you want.

AW Pro Tools—an add-on to AWeber, AW Pro Tools gives you added control over your list management by automatically removing unsubscribes, moving subscribers from one list to another based on the link they click, and other useful automations. 

PayPal—The simplest of all payment processors, PayPal allows you to take payments online for a very reasonable fee. It will also act as a simple shopping cart.

Ontraport—Another email manager, Ontraport offers shopping cart functionality as well, so you can create powerful funnels that are fully integrated with your sales process. The benefit here is that you don’t have to try to synch your cart with your email system, since it’s completely self-contained. 

Infusionsoft—Probably the top tool for any business model, Infusionsoft is an all-in-one solution for customer management, funnel setup, mailing list, and even membership sites. It’s priced at the high end, but if you can (and will) use all its power, then Infusionsoft is well worth the investment.

You can see that you have a lot of options when it comes to building out your sales funnels, but what are the must-have items? At the most basic level, you must have:

A way to create web pages. A simple WordPress website will fill this need, with a little bit of work. LeadPages or Instabuilder are nice to have, but not essential, especially if you’re just getting started.

A way to capture email addresses. AWeber is definitely the top choice here, but others include MailChimp, Constant Contact, and iContact.

A shopping cart. PayPal is as easy as it gets when it comes to shopping carts, but other options include 1 Shopping Cart, Woo Commerce, Infusionsoft, and aMember.

 

I recommend you start small. Build the funnel framework as simply as you can, using tools that don’t cost a fortune. Once you have a few funnels up and running, you will be able to see where they can use improvement, and how the tools available to you can help make your funnels convert better and work more efficiently.

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What The Heck Is A Sales Funnel Anyway?

 

For an online business owner, a sales funnel is probably the most important marketing tool you have. And yet many entrepreneurs – both new and established – have no clear understanding of what a funnel is or how it works.

As you can imagine, failing to fully understand this critical part of your business means fewer sales, lower profits, and ultimately, an unstable business.

A Simple Sales Funnel

At its most basic, a sales funnel consists of free content, which typically requires nothing of your readers. Many sales funnels begin with blog posts, YouTube videos, Facebook content, and other information readers can access at no cost. This is the “top” of your funnel.

Next, you’ll have an attractive offer that requires a very small “payment” of sorts – typically an email address. You’ve seen this type of offer on websites all over the internet, and probably even signed up for some. This is the free ebook or guide, video series, checklist, workbook, or other valuable content that is available in exchange for “opting in” to an email list.

Once on your mailing list, you’ll then present your readers with a series of low-cost offers. Perhaps you have a low-priced ebook or a trial membership.

Customers who purchase your low-priced product move further down the funnel, and are presented with more, higher priced products. As they continue to buy, they move closer and closer to your top-end offers, which make up the bottom of your funnel.

How Your Funnel Works

If you imagine your funnel as looking like, well, a funnel, it’s easy to see that your free content—at the top—is consumed by the largest number of readers. Below that, your extreme low-cost item (available only for the cost of an email address) attracts a smaller subset of the true freebie seekers. Next, your low-priced products bring in yet a smaller group.

Finally, as you near the tip of the funnel, only the most loyal of fans and customers will purchase your highest priced offers.

Your job, as the business owner, is to ensure that your funnel leads buyers naturally from the top, free offers all the way to the bottom. The more buyers you can keep in your funnel, the more money you will make.

Most new—and even established—business owners can easily envision the top of the funnel, but if you truly want your business to grow, you must master the entire process, and that starts with understanding what a funnel really is and how it works.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be covering sales funnel in depth. Want to keep up? Sign up for my email list and you’ll get it first!

Do you use a sales funnel? Do you recognize one when you see it?

 

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You Matter: Financial Security For The Financially Insecure

As women, we often put aside our own: health, wants, dreams, & hopes for our spouses, for what society says we should be doing, or for the “better-ment” of the family. Even though I know what a huge mistake this is, I’ve been guilty of it myself for far too long.

Even if you have a wonderful marriage and divorce isn’t anywhere on the horizon or even in your hemisphere things happen. Life happens. You know that old saying, “If you want a good laugh, tell God your plans.”

I grew up like most of you did. My dad worked and my mom stayed home taking care of us kids. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we weren’t struggling either. I had four brothers, three of whom were older and out of the house. My parents were in their 40’s, much like my husband and I are now.

It was a normal Friday in May, sunny and mild when my father stuck his head inside my bedroom door and shouted “Snow Day! No school today we’re having a snow day!” I was 15 and you didn’t have to tell me twice. My younger brother and I watched that big yellow bus go by thinking we were so lucky!

Eight hours later my father died from a massive heart attack and our lives were never the same again. I don’t just mean the gut-wrenching loss of my dad, but even the mundane daily stuff that we never paid attention to before. When you’re in your 40’s you don’t think much about dying. Well, at least my parents didn’t, but they had never been big on planning things out.

My mom woke up that Saturday morning as the sole decision maker, breadwinner, & a widower with two teenagers at home. She not only had to figure out how to bury my father with no insurance, but also keep the house, and raise her kids.

I always said my life would be different, but as we grow older we tend to take the path of least resistance. The days go by in a haze of soccer games, dinners, and laundry and before you know it 40 is staring back at you from your bedroom mirror and you’re no more prepared than she was back in 1985.

Then my brother-in-law died with no insurance and we struggled to come up with the money to bury him. It was so bad that my stubborn husband went out and dug his brother’s grave to save money. Don’t ask…it was a very dark time, but we learned something very important.

A few weeks later we were the owners of two bright, shiny new life insurance policies and two gravesites. We thought that was it. We were responsible, we were smart, we still didn’t have a clue. Those things are VERY important but financial freedom means a lot more than just two pieces of dirt and a sheet of paper.

I’m on a mission to find out what it means to be financially secure because those two words have never gone together in my world. My parents grew up with nothing. I mean NOTHING. My mom’s family grew or hunted their food & my father was an orphan by the time he was 4.

My parents were the first generation to ever see a city of more than a few thousand. I’ve written before about the lives of my ancestors and it’s not a pretty picture. Not only was it one of the poorest times in our country (the depression), but also one of the poorest places in our country(Kentucky).

They couldn’t teach us about money because they didn’t know about money. They spent what my dad made on a little house and five mouths to feed. Their years of having little paving the way for a long road of shiny new object syndrome. Until at 46 years old my father had a heart attack and died. Forty-six. Think about what you were doing at 46. What would happen to your family if you died suddenly on a random Friday morning at the age of 46?

Even worse, imagine a world where you were alive, but unable to take care of yourself. How would your family function if God forbid, you had to have round the clock care or expensive therapies? How would your loved one earn a living and be a caretaker too? What would your kids have to give up? college?

What if you have big dreams about the second half of your life. Travel around the world or maybe owning your own restaurant. How do you create that strong foundation to be able to live out your dreams when you’ve finally met all of your responsibilities. We’re married, we’re single, we’re homosexual, we’re L.G.B. or T. We’re black, we’re white, but WE ARE ALL FEMALE. Whatever it is that we are in our lives we’re already far behind in one of the most important things we need to survive. MONEY.

It takes us longer hours, more days of the weeks, and more years in college to make less pay and even fewer promotions. This isn’t going to change overnight. What we’re going to have to do is educate ourselves on making our money work both smarter & harder.

We have to make better choices and we can’t do that if we don’t even know what those choices are. We need to be strategic in not only how we spend our money, but how we save it and make it grow at a healthy rate. I don’t know about you, but I have no clue what this looks like.

We have to make better choices and we can’t do that if we don’t even know what those choices are. We need to be strategic in not only how we spend our money, but how we save it and make it grow at a healthy rate. Click To Tweet

According to CNN Money:

  • Women earned about 82 cents for every dollar a man made in 2016.
  • When you take a career-long view, the gap hinders wealth building. Based on the 2015 wage gap, a 20-year-old female entering the work force full time will lose $418,800 over a 40-year career compared to a male worker, according to the NWLC.
  • The gender pay gap is much larger among African American and Hispanic female workers.
    Hispanic women made 54 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man earned, which means they will lose more than a million dollars over a 40-year career based on today’s wage gap, according to the
  • Black women earn 63 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man earns, meaning they will typically lose more than $840,000 over a 40-year career.
    Asian female workers are faring the best at narrowing the gap. They make 85 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man makes.
  • The gap is often larger among higher-paying jobs, according to Hegewisch.
    Personal financial advisers had the biggest gender wage gap last year, according to a report from IWPR. The study did find occupations where women earned more than men. Those occupations included counselors; teachers assistants; combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food; and sewing machine operators.

What this tells me is we have to stretch our dollars even further to get what we want. That means investing the money we do make. Just saving it isn’t going to grow that nest egg.

So with a little help, I’m going to learn about investing and I’m going to share that with all of you in small bits and pieces (in a way that doesn’t make you want to stab me in the eye). Because as female entrepreneurs we owe it to ourselves to educate ourselves on what it takes to achieve financial freedom on our own terms.

Working women contribute to healthier economies and societies yet we still have to contend with challenges like the gender pay gap. We can’t fight for equality if we don’t know what equal should look like and the worst thing we can do for ourselves and our businesses is to make financial decisions based on fear.

GIVE ELLEVEST A TRY!

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Goal Setting For Entrepreneurs

If there’s one thing we know about goals, they have to be SMART, right?

After all, that’s what we’ve been told for years. The only thing that matters is that your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

While that looks great on paper—and clearly it’s easy to remember—it doesn’t go far enough for those who want to achieve big things.

Think about it. Do you want to be stuck with “attainable” and “realistic” goals when what you really dream about is a 3-day workweek, frequent international travel, and enough money to fund a mission trip (or three)? Seems pretty clear that those safe, smart goals aren’t going to get you there.

In fact, they might even do worse than simply “not get you there.” They may actively hold you back.

Consider what happens when you set an “attainable” goal of earning 10% more than you did last year. You might work 10% more. You might spend 10% more on ads or product creation. You might even reach out to 10% more potential clients.

And you’ll likely earn about 10% more.

“Not bad!” you say. After all, that was your goal.

But did that 10% goal inspire you to work harder? Or did it create a subconscious ceiling on your earning potential that you’re unable to break through?

Rather than focusing on goals that are attainable and realistic, savvy entrepreneurs know that the key to incredible success lies in creating lofty goals that feel out of reach—maybe even UN-attainable.

They don’t strive to earn 10% more than last year. They want 50% or even 100% more. They stretch themselves. They find new—and better—ways to do things, so they don’t have to work twice as hard, but they remain open to the possibility of doing so—at least in the short term—when it’s necessary.

Of course, you cannot simply declare crazy goals and expect the universe to hand them to you. And that’s exactly why putting aside those smart goals is so…smart. When you shun the attainable in favor of the “holy cow, how will I ever do THAT?” goal, you push yourself beyond those self-imposed limits and reach for the stars.

Sure, you might not double your income, but you’re almost guaranteed to do better than a mere 10% increase. So push your boundaries. Set big, audacious goals. Even if you fail, you’ll be much further ahead than those smart goals would leave you.

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