Spending and Earning: Both are about to change, and the pedicure stays

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All #SmallBizDiary Entries by Katie Hellmuth Martin
The views of this member do not reflect those of Tin Shingle.

I've made it a new mission to live way below my means. I'm not a huge spender, but when we bought life insurance from our small business friend Donna Desideri at Mass Mutual, I crunched some numbers in a more realistic way than I ever had before, and since owning a home, I was staring at a serious reality. Now with two kids in day care and a new car to drive them around in, my reality is: daycare = a car payment each week. Something's gotta give. Thanks to the Daily Worth and David Bach's book Smart Couples FInish Rich, I've been staying on a good budget diet.

That made today's cover story in the Wall Street Journal perfect for me (yet sad for the country): "Payroll Tax Whacks Spending". The article discusses how some companies are looking at marketing and sales budgets to see where they can lower prices and reach customers in newly appealing ways, to account for the new reality. Maybe these companies will target value items instead of smoothie shakes.

When we were buying life insurance, Donna said to me: "Everyone has room in their budget. They just need to find it. You'd be surprised by how many people have things like mani/pedis each month, but I know you don't, Katie."

Wrong, I do have a monthly pedi, and it's not negotiable!  Yet I took a look at the monthly budget to see where we could cut. I'm not comfortable living underneath a glass ceiling of a fixed monthly budget number. My income must also increase. And because I'm a small business owner, I control that destiny. A business owner can, however, become complacent in the day to day of running their business, especially if they wear about 12-25 different hats each week. Here's how I'm going to live beneath my means, yet increase my means, this month:

CUTTING

  • My AT&T Phone iPhone Bill: I called AT&T, and for the same services, l lowered my bill. They were having a promotion going on. I seized it, and asked about my data use. I was purchasing 4gigs/month of data (internet, video, etc), but using under 1gig consistently. So, I downgraded the gig allotment and saved even more. Saved: $40/month
  • My Cable Box Rentals: We have cable, and my husband is an avid sports watcher/commentator. I hardly watch TV. Yet, we have 3 cable boxes and remotes, and those each come with a rental fee. ??? I convinced my husband, who's been working round the clock lately, to ditch cable in the bedroom, and in his man cave, which is currently very dusty from under-use. I told him: "We'll bring it back when you're down there more". Saved: $13.90/month
  • My Sirius XM Car Radio: This was a tough one. They suckered me in with a $34.99 deal for 6months promotion. Six months is apparently up (that was fast), and a $97 charge just pinged my card. Sorry Sirius. I took a look at my reality, and I was living on the Coffee House station because it keeps my kids calm. And yet, my iPod/phone also has soothing music, and my car has a USB port, so... As for the news, I was listening to CNN and Fox, and each just repeat a lot of talking heads usually, highlights of which I can get from the Daily Show, so I wasn't even listening to my favorite NPR station, which I will now find on my local dial. And another plus, I do enjoy local radio because I get to hear what's going on in my community. Saved: $8/month (and they refunded the pinged $97)

INCREASING

The dream of Tin Shingle has been becoming a reality, where we're helping more and more business owners realize how to take control of their brand and marketing strategies in today's marketplace online and in the press, so I haven't been pursuing or taking new website design projects (except for existing client expansion) at my digital company, Studio PIxelated. Tempting as it is, however as a business owner who doesn't like to turn down projects. So here's what I'm going to do:

  • Finish Tin Shingle's Newsletter Templates: If you're on our mailing lists as a member or as regular person, you may have noticed the same pallet for different types of communication you receive from us. That's about to change. Our communication is going to get more visual and more to the point. Thus, delivering you what you need quickly (which does help our sales).
  • Finish Tin Shingle Ad Packages: Because we were in the middle of the rebrand, we did not entertain requests for advertising packages. Now we are, and the packages are being developed. They are tightly tied to content on this site, and relevance to our readers.
  • Post Consulting Packages: I do get consulting requests at StudioPixelated for online marketing and SEO help, though I'm not taking any new monthly retainers for management work. It's been on my list for months to post those one-off packages, and that's going to happen.

So that's my plan. And I crafted it from the pedi chair this morning. I did skip on the 10minute chair massage, however, this time. But next time...