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    Ready to Land Your Dream Job in 2021? Read This First

    If you’re ready to stop spending 40+ hours a week hating what you do, we’re here to help.  We’re firm believers that it is possible to love your job and that there are specific strategies you can put in place to help you get there. 

    It all starts with identifying your passions, your strengths, and the uniqueness that makes you special—then highlighting all that goodness on paper, online, and in your interview to wow recruiters and future employers with what you already know you’re capable of. Our Landing Your Dream Job online course is a 100-page workbook packed with worksheets, prompts, templates, and advice to help you organize your online presence, buff up your resume, and enter the job market with the confidence to succeed. Because it’s just a matter of getting in front of the right person and showing them exactly what you can do. Ready to get started? 

    What does the course cover? 
    The 100-page workbook is broken down into seven sections, based on skills you’ll need as you prepare to enter the job market (either for the first time, to change careers, to spruce up your networking game, and more). Each section includes notes and insight from successful women (like our cofounders!), guided worksheets, prompts, resource lists, and further reading to help you organize your thoughts and ideas and feel prepared to wow recruiters and future employers. The course also includes five exclusive resume, cover letter, and email signature templates to help you present your professional best. 

    What do I need to take this course? 
    All you need to get started is a pen and paper. We also recommend gathering any current materials you have—like your resumes and former cover letters—so you can review everything in one place and start making updates. 
    The course is completely self-paced, so you can start working through each section at the time that works for you—whether that is Sunday mornings with a cup of coffee, Tuesday nights with a glass of wine, or anywhere in between. After purchasing, you’ll have a full year of access to the course, and unlimited lifetime access to all the course downloads. 
    The course also includes five exclusive resume, cover letter, and email signature templates which are available as both Photoshop and Word files, so you can edit them with your information and customize them to work for you.  
    You can access our course platform from any browser, so no apps or extra software needed. Once you purchase the course, you’ll be prompted to create an account with a username and password, which is how you’ll login to access your courses. Questions about how the course system works? Reach out to [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help. 

    Frequently asked questions

    When does the course start? 

    Since the course is entirely self-paced, you can start it whenever works best for you! Upon purchasing, you’ll have immediate access to the full course, including the guided worksheets and templates. You can only enroll in the course until TUESDAY, JANUARY 19th, so be sure to grab your spot now. 

    How much does the course cost? 

    The full course—including the 100-page workbook, resource lists, templates, and Facebook group access— is $95 and we’re also offering a payment plan of two monthly payments of $47.50. 

    What’s included with the course?  

    Your purchase of the course gets you immediate access to our online platform, where you can download your workbook and templates and start learning immediately. Each section of the course includes section notes, advice, insight from experts, guided worksheets, prompts, and resource lists. The course also includes five exclusive resume, cover letter, and email signature templates. And finally, the course includes an invitation to our private Facebook group, where you can ask questions and connect with other course attendees. 

    How do I claim my spot? 
    After you purchase, you’ll have immediate access to the course and the ability to start learning right away. Remember, the course is completely self-paced, so you can move through it at a rate that works for you. Enrollment is only open until TUESDAY, JANUARY 19th so be sure to grab your spot now before it’s too late! 

    If you have any questions about our Landing Your Dream Job course or any of our other online courses, leave a comment here or reach out to us at [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help! More

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    What to Do if You’re Living Paycheck to Paycheck

    If it seems like your paycheck is disappearing right before your eyes and you’re always anxiously awaiting your next payday, you’re familiar with the feeling of stretching a dollar to its limits. The anxiety of living paycheck to paycheck is unnerving. Unfortunately, many of us have been there, and sometimes, at no fault of our own. Living from paycheck to paycheck might leave you to think that you are spending unwisely, but you may just need to fine-tune your expenses, set a budget, and take a closer look at what’s coming out and going into your bank account each payday. You deserve to see the fruits of your hard-earned money, not watch it go by while living on pins and needles financially until your next payday rolls in. 
    There are no shortcuts or secrets on how to maintain a healthy relationship with your money to avoid living from paycheck to paycheck, but you can be better equipped to make your money last longer and work smarter for you. Here are a few tips you can use if you are struggling to make ends meet in between paydays.
    Evaluate your expenses 
    Your expenses are usually the biggest culprit as to why you might be living paycheck to paycheck. Expenses often include fixed bills like your rent or mortgage, car payments, utilities, and other living expenses that don’t fluctuate much month-by-month, and variable expenses like transportation costs, dining and eating out, your personal care expenses, and other costs that can easily increase or decrease, depending on your personal spending. 
    Take a closer look at all of your expenses, down to the dollar, to evaluate where your money is truly going—even after you’ve paid all of your bills. This will help you map out how little or how much money is being spent after every paycheck. What is being spent each paycheck on food, drinks, living expenses, and other personal items? Write down how much you’re spending on a daily basis after each paycheck has hit your bank account. 
    As you assess your expenses on a paycheck-by-paycheck basis, evaluate what’s being spent and how much is going out, especially if you’ve set up auto-pay on any of your bills. Are you finding that your cable bill or your online subscriptions are going up each month? If you have these services on auto-pay, don’t continue to set and forget them. Make sure to skim through the breakdown of your bills each month to make sure you aren’t paying more than you should. 
    Another part of your expenses is how much is being taken out of your paycheck each pay for taxes, health, dental insurance, and retirement. It’s important to keep track of your contributions and elections for each to see if you can save any extra dollars by modifying your deductions. It’s best to consult with your Human Resources team or personal finance advisor about ways you can save money being taken out of your paycheck. 
    Evaluating your expenses can be cringeworthy, making you take a hard, honest look at your finances and addressing how you’re spending your money, but it’ll help you gain more control over where your hard-earned money is going to help you better manage it. 

    Now Available: The Everygirl 2021 Planners!

    Use a budgeting app 
    There’s no shortage of budgeting tools and apps on the market that can help you track and control your spending so that you can stop living from paycheck to paycheck. There are a wide variety of budgeting apps to choose from that can fit your financial situation and personal preferences, from apps that track your daily spending straight from your linked bank account to ones that let you manually track your expenses yourself. Many of these apps also offer tips and ways you can help curb your spending by grouping your transactions into categories so that you can easily visualize how much you’re spending in each area of your life, from shopping to bills and utilities. 
    From the EveryDollar app to You Need A Budget (YNAB), these device-friendly apps are designed to keep you on top of your spending and expenses in an easily accessible way. Stop living from paycheck to paycheck by using a budgeting tool to monitor your expenses and track where your money ends up after getting paid. Look at it as your accountability partner, reminding you to give every dollar a job, spend more wisely, and prepare for those unexpected expenses before they siphon your paycheck. 

    Consider a side hustle 
    Sometimes, no matter how much you try to make your check stretch after payday, one job may not be enough to cover all of your expenses, especially if you’re facing a financial hardship. If your schedule permits, pick up a side gig, as increasing your income might help alleviate some of the stress of living paycheck to paycheck. 
    Assess your personal and work schedules to see if picking up another source of income can work for you. If you have a specific skill or are trained in a specific field or trade, find a side job that will accommodate what you already have knowledge or experience in and what might fit your schedule. From freelancing to customer service to project-based jobs, there are many ways to make money on the side to offset any loss of income. Make sure your side hustle fits your lifestyle and is budgeted into your already-existing expenses, and that it doesn’t tempt you into adding more expenses to your budget. 

    Source: Abigail Yonker

    Downsize your lifestyle 
    After evaluating your bills and expenses, it may be time to cut some of your spending and downsize where you can to give yourself more room in between paychecks. 
    A great place to start is your personal spending. Are you able to cut out a few trips to Starbucks or on online shopping? Are you able to save a few extra dollars by doing your own hair and nails or working out at home instead of paying for the gym? See where you can cut back on your personal spending in a few areas like food, drinks, personal care, and entertainment—a few spending categories most people end up overspending each month.  
    Next, try evaluating ways you can save a few extra dollars by downsizing your living if possible, cutting back on what you spend on wants vs. needs each paycheck. This could include your cable and internet services, subscriptions you barely use, and other various services you could possibly live without. Find ways to share these services with friends and family and split the cost of them to help free up some money for you. 

    Don’t skimp on saving
    Even though living from paycheck to paycheck can be daunting, no matter how tight your wallet gets, don’t forget to budget in money for savings. It might be tempting to forget or push off saving due to the stress of taking care of bills and other expenses, but saving is a very important tool to help you get out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. 
    Set aside a few dollars each paycheck to go straight into your savings automatically before any spending. Saving first before spending helps you set aside your hard-earned money for emergencies or future expenses so that you’re not using your last dollar solely on paying bills with nothing to fall back on. Even if it’s only small amounts here and there, each payday, designate a portion of your check to yourself in a savings account. Paying yourself first is one of the most important steps in managing your money wisely. 

    How do you avoid living from paycheck-to-paycheck? More

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    14 Mantras for Your Best Self Ever, and When to Use Them

    What do you do when you’re in a stressful moment? When you’re anxious about giving a presentation, or your friends hang out without inviting you, or you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see? What about when bad things happen, or you make a mistake, or you doubt whether or not you’re good enough to have all that you want? Some people cope with stress and anxiety with a yoga flow, a Netflix show, or a sleeve of Oreos. While I still resort back to all those coping mechanisms here and there (healthy or not), the one thing I always have with me is a mantra.Technically, everyone has a mantra, whether they’re aware of it or not — it’s that one phrase you hear in your head over and over or tell yourself repeatedly. Some lucky people have great mantras: I’m awesome. What a beautiful day outside. I love my life. And then there are the mantras that many of us are plagued by: I’m not as pretty. I’m not good enough. What if something goes wrong?  Many of us hear these phrases in our heads so often that we believe them. So what if we could replace these thoughts with phrases that are not only better for us, but can help us be confident, feel less stressed, and live our best lives? The secret to achieving your best self might just be a mantra away…

    What is a “mantra?”
    The term “mantra” is an ancient Sanskrit term, used in Hindusim and Buddhism to mean a phrase that was repeated frequently in meditation. Nowadays, everyone from yogis to modern psychologists are relaying back to the ancient technique as a powerful therapy tool. Neurologically, mantra training can reduce distractions and calm the mind. It’s also been proven to reduce stress because repetition and focus regulate chemicals in the brain, releasing endorphins and blocking stress hormones like cortisol.
    Beyond just the physical benefits, a mantra puts you in a more positive mindset, and the repetitive nature trains your brain overtime. In other words, remember those negative thoughts? With mantra training, they will be a thing of the past, because you’ll naturally think more positively.
    Mantras can be repeated as a tool for focus during meditation, used as a tiny, consistent reminder throughout the day, or looked to when you’re in a moment of anxiety, stress, or lack of confidence. The goal is to find the mantra that clicks for you; the one that just makes sense. It’s the phrase you need to hear, and the repetition to allow you to actually hear it.
    Here are the mantras that have changed my mindset, my confidence, and my life. Memorize the one that clicks with you, write them down and tape them to your walls, or copy them in your phone notes to look to whenever you need it.  Get ready for your most powerful, confident, passionate, and best self, yet:

    1. “I am enough.”
    This is the reminder we all could probably use every now and then. It’s human nature to think we could be better, or there’s always someone better than us — it’s what drives competition and keeps us pushing ourselves to be better. But sometimes, that pushing becomes a lack of appreciation for who we are now, causing insecurity and self-doubt. Use this mantra when you’re worried about being liked, struggling with insecurity, meeting new people, or entering a new job. Remind yourself that you are pretty great, just the way you are.

    2. “I am ready to be healed.”
    Use this mantra when you’ve been having a particularly hard time and you’re ready to move on, or need help moving on. It’s so easy to get into a funk because we’re going through a hard time — maybe we lost our job, went through a breakup, or have just been feeling sad with winter blues. While grieving and downtime is important, and emotions should never be ignored, this funk can turn into a vicious cycle of self-pity and wallowing. The first step of moving on and feeling better is to acknowledge that it’s time to be healed and it’s ok to be healed. You’ll start to subconsciously seek out your own healing.

    Source: @metricdisco

    3. “I am discovering my inner superstar.”
    There is an inner “superstar” in all of us, even when we don’t think there is. I call it “superstar” because the word makes me smile, but you might call it your best self, your true self, or your own hero. Use this mantra when you need some extra motivation and inspiration to achieve your goals, and to believe in yourself. The wording of this mantra is particularly nonjudgmental. Rather than expecting yourself to achieve greater things (and the possibility of feeling disappointed or unconfident if you don’t achieve them), you’re acknowledging that you’re in the process of discovering your best self, without expectation or judgment.

    4. “I return my body to optimal health by giving it what it needs on every level.”
    Use this mantra when you want to resist the box of donuts at the office, or you know your body needs to be (and deserves to be) healthier. Rather than forcing yourself to eat healthy or exercise for vanity reasons, this mantra is allowing you to reflect on what your body actually wants and needs, whether that means having that piece of chocolate or adding in some leafy greens, or sleeping in and taking a rest day versus getting up before work to go to the gym. Remind yourself to listen to your body and act for the sake of nourishing it.

    5. “I am open and receptive to all good.”
    When you seek the good, you won’t notice as much bad. The issues you run into in your everyday life, like your train being late or your internet running slow, won’t feel so bad. Use this mantra when you need an extra boost of optimism. Train yourself to be a glass-half-full kinda girl by repeating this mantra whenever you start to complain or notice a negative thought. There’s so much good, whether it’s in a situation, a setting, or in a person. We just have to allow ourselves to be open to it.

    Source: @carlycristman

    6. “Today is about pleasure. I am living this day for the sole purpose of enjoying it.”
    What if you lived as if the purpose was to enjoy — not just to check items off your to-do list or just get through the work day until 5pm? Use this mantra when you notice you’ve just been going through the motions instead of living. Notice and value indulgences that truly make you happy — a new candle, a long hot bath, a bouquet of flowers you picked up on the way home from work. Fit small pleasurable activities into your day, and when something stresses you out like a tough deadline or a boss in a bad mood, remember that this day is for you to enjoy, and don’t let little problems bother you like they normally would.

    7. “Stop making people wrong.”
    You know the times when you’re in a fight and you just feel so annoyed, or sad, or angry? Maybe your roommate is annoying you about doing the dishes, or your kids are making you mad by not picking up their toys? Use this mantra when you’re in one of those times. If your mom missed an important event, your best friend has been too busy for you, or your significant other said something you don’t agree with, remind yourself to think about the other’s perspective. Be compassionate to their point of view and voice your feelings with the understanding that your loved ones don’t mean to make you feel bad. Remember that how the incident affects your relationship is not based on their actions, but the way you take them. Seek the right in the people you love instead of making them wrong.

    8. “Be the person who feels like sunshine.”
    Use this mantra when you’re in a social setting you don’t feel confident in. It might be tempting to be the girl that acts too-cool-for-school, or make jokes to get laughs (even if it’s at the expense of others). When we’re not feeling confident, these are easy defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from being disliked. But this mantra reminds me that what people actually like to be around is someone who exudes kindness, and is warm and happy — someone who feels like sunshine. Besides, what if your main purpose was to lift others up? Give them compliments, make them laugh, help out when you see they need it — how much happier would you be?

    9. “I give myself permission to be ok where I am. I know that I am doing my best.”
    We’re always thinking towards the next goal, always feeling behind or focused on the future so much that we don’t feel good about the present. It’s not often that we actually let ourselves be ok with where we are in our lives, knowing that it is exactly where we are meant to be and all good things will come. Use this mantra when you’re feeling anxious about the future.

    Source: @teresalaucar

    10. “I am seeking contentment, not perfection.”
    Use this mantra if you can be too much of a perfectionist. From the outside perspective, no one would expect me to call myself a “perfectionist” — I can be messy, my right brain is way more dominant than my left, and I’m a Libra (a social, charming, romance-obsessed sign — not a perfectionist). And yet, I find myself rewriting articles because they never feel good enough, obsessing over my hair when it’s not curling the way I’d hoped, or feeling anxious and stressed when something didn’t go the way I pictured. Sound familiar? Remind yourself that the goal in life is not for everything to be, look, and seem perfect. The goal, instead, is to be happy. It makes all the little things I worry about seem insignificant.

    11. “I trust that I, and only I, know what’s best for me.”
    We can so often be completely plagued by self-doubt, especially when we’re making huge choices like college decisions, getting into a relationship, moving cities, or which job to take. Oftentimes, we want validation because we don’t listen to the gut instinct, or maybe can’t hear it at all. Use this mantra when you’re making big life decisions. Listen for your gut reaction, and trust that you don’t need to listen to or seek out anyone else’s opinion because the answers to even your biggest life questions is something only you can know.

    12. “Don’t go in your mind where your body is not”
    Are you a worrier, or, like me, a constant worrier? Do you overthink whether or not your friends took your joke the wrong way, if your boss won’t like the work you did, or how a (perfectly normal) doctors appointment will go? Me too. Many of us torture ourselves by thinking about what might happen, we often forget to focus on what is actually happening. This mantra helps me remember I’m making up the worry in my mind, and I need to work on being present to what’s happening in the here and now. Use this mantra when you’re worrying about something.

    Source: @gypsykait

    13. “All is well.”
    Though simple, this powerful mantra serves as a constant reminder that everything is okay and will be okay. Use this mantra when you’re feeling anxious. Anxiety happens because you’re constantly telling yourself that something negative is happening, and your mind starts to believe it. Counteract that anxious voice by giving yourself peace of mind.

    14. “I surround myself with those who make me better.”
    Have you ever heard that study that says we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with? It’s an important study and makes a lot of sense — when you spend a lot of time with someone, you can adopt their mannerisms, their habits, and even their morals. Do you want to be like the 5 people you spend the most time with? Or is it time for a change? Use this mantra when you’re dealing with a toxic friendship or jealous coworker, and to remind yourself you have control over who you let affect you. 

    Which mantra do you use? Which one of these do you relate with the most? Let me know in the comments!

    This post was originally published on January 5, 2019. More

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    Want to Launch Your Business This Year? Read This First

    I love the fresh start that a new year presents. The metaphorical clean slate; the revitalized energy to work and plan toward your goals. What better time than this to start thinking about launching your business? Something that has always helped me in my freelance work is recognizing that it’s all about progress over perfection. Following a few key checks and then just unleashing your idea or services or products onto the world and using that trial and error to strengthen and fortify your work and your business. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together eight important things to put in place before you launch your biz this year—everything from figuring out your current ideal clients to strategically launching your website with our go-to platform, Squarespace. Read on to start planning for your own launch, and don’t miss our free checklists! 

    1. Narrow in on your niche 
    I used to think that if the market was saturated it meant that I shouldn’t even consider entering it. If other graphic designers are out there creating brands for clients, why should I do it too? Oh, how wrong I was.
    Now I realize that we can all coexist within the market by narrowing in on niches. What do you bring to the table that is different from everyone else? Even if your products are similar—for example, brand and logo design—who are your specific ideal clients or customers? How does your business work in a way no one else’s does? When you get really detailed with these questions, you’ll hit on your niche and the place where your business will operate the best. Before you do anything else for your business this year,  take a moment to answer these questions. And remember, your niche can grow and change as your business and you do. This is just a blueprint for your next year. Who do you want to attract? Who are your dream clients? 

    2. Map out your services, products, or rates 
    After you’ve narrowed in on who exactly your ideal customers and clients are, it’s time to do an inventory of everything you’re offering. If you’re a service-based business, determine your pricing model. Will you bill by an hourly rate? Or a per-project rate? Do your research to determine what others in your industry are doing. Transparency within pricing has come such a long way over the years and the detailed cost information available now is so helpful when you’re starting out. Try a tool like How Much Should I Charge? or seek out peers or thought leaders in your field on places like Instagram, where they might be sharing about their process. As a designer with a branding and lettering studio, I love how open Molly Jacques has been about her pricing model. She creates lots of helpful pricing examples for designers, like this one. 
    If you’re a product-based business, seek out similar shops and do your research on the going rate-per-product. Map out your business costs like keeping inventory, shipping, and packaging and be sure you’re charging enough to avoid a deficit. Remember, these numbers aren’t carved in stone either. You’re allowed to raise your prices as your business grows and evolves. 
    READ: Here’s How to Charge What You’re Actually Worth

    Source: @kellyetz

    3. Start tracking your time 
    Even if you’re not planning to charge by hourly rate, tracking your time can be essential. Figuring out how long tasks actually take you—everything from packaging products to emailing clients—will help you determine your rates and understand how much time you’re putting into your business overall. You’ll be able to map out how much work you can realistically take on, whether you’re a full-time business owner or a freelancer or anywhere in between. To get started, try a time-tracking app like Harvest or Toggl. 

    4. Figure out your finances 
    Now that you have all your info gathered for what you want to charge and how long tasks and projects are actually taking you, it’s time to do a deep dive into your finances. This is definitely something I’ve struggled with in my freelance business, and trust me: figuring out a system for tracking your money right from the get-go is essential. It will save you so much time and headache later on. Start tracking every dollar that is coming in and out of your business so you can get an accurate picture of what you’re making. This will also save you during tax season, when you’ll have to account for how much you owe. 
    This is also where you’ll want to account for all the services you use to run your business. A huge reason I love Squarespace (and use it for my freelance biz) is that so many services are bundled in one place, so I don’t need to be juggling tons of different sites and logins. With Squarespace, I run my website and my online shop, integrate my email marketing, pull stock photography, link my shipping fulfillment automations, and more. That synchronicity saves me tons of time and effort. 
    READ: 7 Things to Do for Your Business RN to Save Time and Money Later

    Source: Social Squares

    5. Do a brand identity check 
    When you’re just starting out, you may not need all the bells and whistles of a full brand identity, but having things like a simple and chic logo, a predetermined color palette, and brand fonts will help your business look instantly elevated and pulled-together.
    Remember that a huge part of a successful business is about first impressions. What your audience sees when they first land on your website or your social media channels can determine whether or not they become a client or shop with your business. So you’ll want to put your best foot forward with your design. The good news is, you don’t necessarily need to hire a designer or invest in a lot of fancy design programs when you’re getting started. If you’re looking to DIY initial branding until you’re ready to invest, focus on keeping things simple and minimal. I always say to go with a text-based logo to start. Pick a font that you like, type in your business name, and go. If you have a Squarespace site, they make this process so easy by allowing you to create your text-based logo when you’re creating your site, with hundreds of high-quality fonts to choose from. Or, try out Squarespace’s free logo maker tool for a quick logo that still looks professional and modern.

    Keep in mind that minimal and simple don’t equal boring, especially in the design world. And by minimalism I don’t mean that you have to only use one font or just use black and white as your color scheme. It’s more about letting the simplicity of something speak for itself. If you get stuck, create a moodboard of designs that you like and refer back to that when needed. What colors do they have in common? What elements are repeated over and over? Squarespace also comes with pre-made font and color palette options, which is a great way to get started with something you know will look good. You can select different options from the backend of your site, and see the changes in real time, helping you create a site that looks cohesive without the headache of trying to figure it all out yourself from scratch. 
    READ: A Branding Expert Shares the Most Common Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

    6. Launch your website 
    As you’re figuring out the look and feel of your brand, it’s a great time to start putting together your website and preparing it for your launch. As I mentioned earlier, Squarespace is my go-to website platform, not just for myself but also for my freelance clients looking to build a site or online store. 
    I’m a big believer that at first, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to website design. I’ve backed myself into a corner many times by being too much of a perfectionist about my site, and then not having anything to launch at all. Remember, progress over perfection, in all areas of your business. I love that Squarespace allows you to start with demo content so that you can plug-and-play your own text and photos to get going. Not having to start totally from scratch makes such a difference in the time and effort it will take to build out your site.
    READ: Ready to Publish Your Website? Read This SEO Checklist First

    Source: @ayyonks

    7. Create a marketing schedule 
    Time to start planning how you’ll get all your beautiful work out into the world. If you want your business to thrive, you’ll want to be reaching new customers and clients on the platforms that make the most sense to you. Remember those questions you answered earlier? They’ll already start coming in handy as you analyze where your ideal clients are—whether that is Instagram, LinkedIn, email inboxes, a combination of all of the above, etc. 
    A little trial and error is completely normal here, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see hundreds of clients rolling in in the first week. This is where creating a marketing schedule will help, because you can refer back to what you’ve already tried and those results and tailor your future strategies accordingly. Utilize the data as it rolls in as well—keep track of where your traffic is coming from to your website to help you understand which platforms are working the best for you. Squarespace makes this easy with integrated analytics right within your site dashboard. 

    READ: Your Business Marketing Strategy, According to Your Enneagram

    8. Celebrate 
    You did it! Taking the time to be proud of where you’re at and how far you’ve come is so important and will help you continue to drive and care for your biz throughout the year. Celebrate your wins with your community as well, it will help people get to know you and start rooting for your success right alongside you. 

    This post is sponsored by Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    6 Changes I’ve Made on My Journey to Being Debt-Free

    Last summer, in the midst of planning a wedding and a cross-country move, I found myself in a real financial mess. While I wasn’t delinquent on payments or behind on my rent, I had no clue how I’d cover my upcoming expenses. It became pretty clear that, despite having a great job and a degree from an impressive university, I was broke.I’m one of the millions of Americans who graduated from college with student loan debt. And in my case, after paying on my loans for five years, I still had a six-figure balance and monthly payments equivalent to a second rent! And in conjunction with credit card bills and a car note, I was one missed paycheck away from spiraling out of control.
    I had a decision to make. If I ever wanted to realize my dreams of buying a home, traveling the world, and—most importantly—building wealth for my future family, something had to change. So I pushed past my self-doubt, frustration, and embarrassment, and started attacking my debt, one dollar at a time. And today, I’m more than halfway to a $0 balance. Here are six changes I’ve made along my journey.
    1. I convinced myself it was possible
    Prior to embarking on this journey, I was clueless as to how bad my financial situation really was. I could pay my bills on time, enjoy local restaurants and bars, shop every so often, and still have a few dollars in my account in between paychecks. In my mind, I was doing well!
    In reality, I was barely staying afloat. And it took a few wake up calls—like barely having enough for my bills after an unexpected doctor’s visit and realizing I couldn’t scrape together the deposit for my dream wedding photographer—to get my head out of the clouds. Aside from $200 in a “savings” account that I dipped into every time my checking account went into overdraft, I had nothing to fall back on. And when I finally worked up the nerve to open all my statements and tally up my balances, I could barely breathe. 
    How am I ever going to pay this off?
    After a minor meltdown and a self-loathing session, I had a decision to make. While I had no idea how I would get it done, I knew I’d never be debt-free if I accepted defeat before I gave it a solid effort. I spent time envisioning, in great detail, what my life could look like if I was debt-free, free from monthly payments, and no longer living paycheck to paycheck. It may sound silly, but focusing on the life I can live once I’m financially stable became my biggest motivation. And with Future Me in mind, it became a lot easier to take tangible steps to close the distance between my current situation and the life I want.

    2. I said “no more” adding to my balances
    The most overwhelming aspect of my debt payoff journey was coming to grips with the daunting amount I owed. If I was somehow able to put every penny of my annual salary toward my debt, it would still take nearly two years to pay off. The reality of my circumstances helped me draw a hard line in the sand: if I was going to get myself out of this mess, I had to stop digging the hole I was in. That meant waving goodbye to my credit cards.
    I reluctantly dumped my credit cards out of my wallet (even the ones with the great travel perks) and started leaving the house without them. Going out with only cash and my debit card to rely on scared me and I started checking my balance obsessively, trying desperately to avoid the embarrassment of having a transaction declined.
    But, as uncomfortable and unenjoyable as turning my back on credit cards was, I saw a near-instant change. Getting in the habit of checking my account so often forced me to think about each purchase before and after I made it. I’d gone from using credit as a makeshift emergency fund when I ran out of money to only buying what I could actually afford. Taking credit off the table sparked a level of discipline I didn’t know I was capable of. 

    3.  I reduced my fixed expenses
    As I started looking into ways to save more money and speed up my debt payoff, it became clear that I needed to cut some of my expenses to free up some money. Despite some of the “easy” recommendations for savings, I really hated the idea of never ordering a cup of coffee on my journey to debt freedom. Instead, I looked for ways to keep my small pleasures by lessening my largest expenses—namely my housing.
    At the first opportunity I had, I downsized my apartment and signed a lease that helped me save over $200 each month. When this money freed up, with newly minted discipline on my side, I prepared to put the money toward my debt payments (as opposed to shopping, brunch, and entertainment).

    4. I drafted a realistic budget
    Before I got serious about paying off my debt, I would have incorrectly said that I knew how to budget. In reality, despite the budgeting apps and resources I had on my phone, I was simply tracking my spending. It wasn’t until I decided to start putting “extra” money toward my debt each month that I realized my approach was all wrong. I needed a true budget.
    I started by writing down the dates and expected amounts of my paychecks. Next, I listed every recurring bill or expense I had each month—like my rent, car payment, and student loan payment—and organized them by due date. From there, I bucketed my expenses by paycheck to ensure I’d have the money and my payments wouldn’t be late. Then I layered on the estimated costs of my essentials, like gas and groceries, and any other unavoidable costs I had coming up and split them across my paycheck buckets. With any money that was left, I set aside a portion for non-essentials, like brunches and happy hours, and set committed to using the rest to attack my debt.
    While the idea of budgeting initially stirred feelings of overwhelm, embarrassment, and restriction, I’ve come to see my budget as an organizational tool. Determining where my money will go and how much I’ll spend in certain categories at the start of each month takes the stress and emotion out of my payments and purchases. And I use a budgeting app so my goals and guidelines are always accessible.
    Since I’m the one in charge of drafting my budget each month, I can apply lessons learned and adapt my allocations month to month. I put a little less toward debt to fund holiday gifts, for instance, and more toward debt when I get a gift or bonus.

    5. I decided on a plan of attack
    Once I got organized and identified additional money I could put toward debt pay down each month, I needed to decide what to pay off first. After a bit of research, I decided between two popular debt payroll methods: the avalanche and the snowball. 
    If I used the avalanche method, I’d make additional payments on whichever debt has the highest interest rate. Once my highest interest debt was paid off, I would add whatever I was paying on it to the payments on my account with the next highest interest rate. This strategy would save money, as I’d pay less in interest over the course of my journey. 
    If I used the snowball method, I’d make additional payments on whichever debt had the lowest balance. Once my lowest balance debt was paid off, I would add whatever I was paying on it to the payments on the next lowest debt. This strategy would help me build momentum in my payoff journey, paying off my smallest debts quickly before focusing on my largest balances.
    My debt balances and interest rates really varied and, initially, I wasn’t sure which payoff method made the most sense for my situation. But when I considered how long my journey to debt freedom would be, I knew the snowball method would be my best bet. By focusing on my smallest balances first, I was able to celebrate a few “small wins” early on. When I paid off my first credit card (a $1,200 balance), for instance, I felt incredibly energized around my goal—I could do this! And after a year of following this approach, I paid off five separate accounts and am putting more money than ever toward my payments.

    6. I shared my goals with my girls
    Along this journey, I’ve learned just how tough it is to say “no, I can’t make it” when I actually mean “I’d love to come, but I’m broke!” But I knew that making real progress with my finances would mean scaling back on the (really enjoyable) money traps I set for myself each month. That meant fewer weekend brunches, weeknight happy hours, and aimless trips to Target. And it ultimately meant learning to say “I can’t” when my friends invited me out.
    Initially, I struggled with the embarrassment of being the (seemingly) “broke” one of the group and then the guilt of blowing my friends off. But after a few months of vague excuses and declined invitations, I gradually lowered my guard and let my friends know why they were seeing me less often. And despite my initial hesitation, sharing my goals with my family and friends was one of my best decisions since starting this journey. 
    While a few people couldn’t make sense of my efforts, most of my friends were quick to offer their support and understanding. And in the time since, many of them have stepped up to cheer me on or ask for advice on their own debt-free journeys. Even though I’m on a different personal finance journey than some, I loved that money has become less of a taboo topic in my friend groups. More

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    The One Trick That Helped Me Reach Every Goal Last Year

    One of my most defining characteristics is my planner. Every year, I change it up slightly, but I never fail to have at least 1-3 planners in my possession at all times. I live and breathe my planner and notebooks. But I use them for way more than my daily to-do lists and managing all of my events and meetings; my planners are filled to the brim with goals, lists, reflections, trackers, ideas, and more. And after building some much-awaited anticipation, I’m sharing everything I use them for, how I use them, and how exactly I managed to reach pretty much every goal I had for 2020–all thanks to my little black books! All of this to say, if you simply made it to December 2020, you’ve done a solid job. I didn’t reach every personal goal by miles (LOL, I wanted to travel outside of the U.S.!), and I reestablished my goals once the pandemic hit to feel like I was still pushing toward things even if everything felt different. Goals are honestly arbitrary if you’re happy and feel good; don’t beat yourself up if you merely survived this year. But I’m also all here for making 2021 the best yet, even with our “new normal” still in sight.

    What I Use
    I go back and forth and use many different notebooks and planners, but my divine trio this year has been as follows:
    Black notebook as a “bullet journal” that I use for lists, goals, trackers, and long as all hell to-do lists every single day
    A daily planner to track meetings and schedule everything in my day from workouts to Zoom calls to taking a bath
    A big monthly calendar for tracking birthdays, events, and things I need to know of in advance (photoshoots and filming things, big projects I need to work on for days, etc.)—I have done this a few ways, like with a dry-erase board, a monthly calendar pinned to the wall, or a monthly planner, and the dry-erase board was the best but least attractive, so wall calendar it is!
    And as for my favorite supplies…

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    How I Use Them
    Set up trackers
    Having trackers in my planner or journal is the only reason I’ve created any healthy habits this year—I wish I was exaggerating. It’s the easiest way for me to recognize patterns (like when I’m not drinking enough water I’m also less motivated to work out because I get headaches!) and address pain points in my routine to make room for the things I actually prioritize. If I notice that I went a whole week without reading, I set up next week’s weekly to-do list with specific tasks to get more reading in. This has made it so easy to see the habits I prioritize in my life and make them easy to achieve and develop rather than just a list of goals that I find daunting.

    Create daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals
    Before you can create your habits, it’s important to figure out what goals you want to achieve. Many of us write up a list of yearly goals sometime around January 1. “Run a 5K!” “Eat healthier!” “Get a promotion!” But the downfall of those giant goals is when you don’t turn them into easy bite-sized chunks that you can actually accomplish. 
    Once I’ve written out my top goals for the year, I work on dividing them up into monthly, weekly, and even daily goals for myself. And this list is constantly changing. If I know I’ll be drinking one weekend, I’ll up my water goal to make sure I’m hydrated, but I also will decrease my goal for working out four days a week if I know I’m giving myself some grace through the weekend. Creating daily goals also really helps me to stay on track with my weekly and monthly goals. It feels easy to just have a goal to work out one time versus “work out four times a week for four weeks.” 
    These all usually work together to help me reach those big goals, but I also throw in other notes sometimes. The last few months, I made a weekly goal to get dressed and do my makeup at least three times. This had nothing to do with a monthly or yearly goal of mine, but it made me feel better, and sometimes those are the best goals to have.

    Developed daily and weekly routines
    Once you have all of your goals and habits in place, you can start creating routines to fit all of them in. I despise waking up in the morning without a plan; I want to know what’s happening when. But that isn’t always possible. I can’t expect to have a calendar laid out for me every single day, especially while working from home. Instead, I’ve developed my own routines to follow on the days it would be so easy to just lay in bed and do nothing. (And to be fair, some days, the whole routine is doing nothing in bed—gotta love the weekend!) 
    I create daily routines for busy days, lazy days, days I have lots of meetings, and more. This has developed over time, as I’ve seen patterns in myself. I know that on a busy day, I’ll put off eating until midday, which only makes me ravenous and, in turn, idle the second half of the day. So, I created a routine that made sure I ate a big breakfast that would last me a while so I could get a lot of work done without needing to stop for snacks or to eat. In the same vein, it’s helpful for me to have a routine for the days I struggle to be productive, so I filled it with tons of self-care and enjoyable tasks that get me out of a funk.
    I also enjoy creating weekly routines. This helps me stay on track with the tasks in my life that I find it easiest to constantly swap to other days. Laundry always gets done on Fridays. I plan my week every Sunday night. I work out Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. I get take-out on Thursdays or Fridays. Having these in place makes it easiest for me to see when things are happening, and it makes it a lot harder to put off. This is also really helpful at work too! 
    These routines live at the beginning of my journal, and I refer back to them often. I’ll look at them at the beginning of the week when I’m making a plan for myself, and then I schedule all of these tasks in my planner or iCal. 

    Monthly and quarterly reviews
    Although many of us have bi-annual performance reviews at work, I make sure to do them monthly and quarterly on my own, for both my entire life and for work. I sit down with my notebook and go over the things I want to stop, start, and continue each month. Doing it right then makes it so much easier to look back on every quarter as well as at my yearly performance review to see what I’ve worked on and how I’ve grown throughout the year. 
    I also do a quarterly review, in which I just list out what I’ve done and then develop goals for the next quarter from that. I’ve done this all in one go before, but I also sometimes just write in notes as they’re happening. This is great for making notes about little victories in your day, like doing a 45-minute cardio class instead of 30 minutes or giving more positive feedback to a coworker. But it’s also great to note any pain points, such as not having enough time to work on your passions or skipping your workout every Saturday because you’re too tired in the mornings (me). Then, I’ll use these reflections to develop goals and ideas for the next month and quarter. (Can you tell I make an absurd amount of goals?) 

    Refine my to-do lists
    I make a wild amount of to-do lists on a daily basis, as I’m sure anyone who loves having a paper planner does as well.  But I’ve really revised and refined my to-do list process. Instead of having a million lying around at all times, I write one gigantic to-do list every night before bed for the next day in my notebook. It has everything from “take out the trash” to “cook dinner” to “edit such and such article” and more. Every work task, personal task, home task, health task—you name it, and I write it down. Then, the next morning, I pull all of my tasks from that list and schedule them into my calendar if they can be scheduled. “Cook dinner” becomes a 7 p.m. item. “Editing” is blocked for 3:30-5:30 p.m. This cuts my to-do list down immensely, making it so that I’m focusing less on those pieces as “tasks” and more on them as just being parts of my day. It makes my day so much less daunting than having a million items on a to-do list that I don’t know how I’ll ever get them done. 
    Then, if my to-do list still seems terrifying, I’ve started using a tip from freelance writer, Olivia Muenter. She suggested using a different sticky note to break down each to-do list item, even the absolute smallest parts. When you can pull away a sticky note, it’s immediately satisfying, no matter how easy the task was. I’ve modified it by using a sticky note for each “part” of my list. Typically for me, this looks like “writing,” “editing,” “Facebook,” “home,” “personal.’ Then, each note has every single task that needs to be done in that category, no matter how small. Almost always, “home” and “personal” don’t get removed until around 9 p.m., but removing the work-related notes as the day goes on is magical.

    All of this to say, I’m certainly not a productivity guru. I’m still learning. Heck, it took me two more days than I originally planned for to write this article right here! But having a few plans in place helps me immensely, and I know it’ll be my first line of defense when 2021 inevitably throws us some wild curveball.  More