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10 Steps for Boomers Approaching Retirement
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The Great Recession has hit many baby boomers hard. They're dealing with depressed retirement porfolios and homes values, plus layoffs. As a result, more baby boomers are ill-prepared for retirement is. If you're a boomer who wants to retire, here are 10 steps to take to prepare for the transition.

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The post 10 Steps for Boomers Approaching Retirement appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Before & After: Our Guest Room
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I have another fun reveal of our new house for you today! I’ve been working with the online interior design service Decorist to complete our guest room. I’m so excited to finally get to share the entire process with you. I wanted to design our guest room to be both…

The post Before & After: Our Guest Room appeared first on Apartment34.

How to Find Volunteer Opportunities in Your Area
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An unfamiliar city can be more than a little unnerving. Getting to know the area while simultaneously trying to make […]

The post How to Find Volunteer Opportunities in Your Area appeared first on Apartment Living Tips - Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

9 Best Online Checking Accounts: Mobile Banking That Works
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Bank digitally, skip maintenance fees, and even earn some cash rewards and interest yields with our top online checking accounts.
Prepaid Debit Card or Secured Credit Card: Which is Best For You?
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A 2014 survey by the Pew Charitable Trust found that 5 percent of American adults use prepaid cards—that’s roughly 12 million people! For the record, these aren’t gift cards that we’re talking about. In the Pew survey, “prepaid card” refers...

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The post Prepaid Debit Card or Secured Credit Card: Which is Best For You? appeared first on MintLife Blog.

How to Design a Life You Love
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In the earliest days of my business, I wasn’t so much running toward a passion or purpose but running away from my disengaging full-time job. And that absence of purpose scared me. This was the next phase of my life, and I wanted it to be infused with intention.

And also… I had no idea how to achieve this.

Then one day, browsing aimlessly in a bookstore (a tactic I recommend anytime you’re struggling with literally anything) I stumbled on a book called Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

At first glance it sounded a little squishy. But I noticed the book is based on a course of the same name, authored by two professors who famously teach at Stanford University – an institution not known for its squishiness. So, I grabbed it.

Its purpose is to help you answer this question: Can we apply design thinking to the “wicked problem” of designing your job, your career, and even your life? Evans and Burnett believe we can.

Design thinking is a means of user-centered design. It’s about designing not the best outcome, but rather the best path for a particular user. In the case of this book, the user is you. Today I’ll introduce you to the five phases of the design thinking process, and how Burnett and Evans might encourage you to harness it in designing your ideal life.

Whether you’re on a quest for joy, change, or a fresh start, welcome to your new beginning.

Design thinking ... is about designing not the best outcome, but rather the best path for a particular user - in this case, the user is you.

Step #1: Empathize

Design thinking begins with empathy because you can only design for a user you understand. And since you are the user, this phase is about self-awareness. So how can you get to know you a little bit better? There’s a process Burnett and Evans describe called wayfinding, which is a simple method of self-discovery that puts you in the direction of where you need to go.

Through wayfinding, you’ll discover which activities engage you (leaving you feeling inspired and “in the zone”) and which sap your energy. The process is simple: keep a journal (here's a good example of one). For the next few weeks, keep track of your work and home activities throughout each day. Whether it's writing a sales pitch, reorganizing your sock drawer, or anything else. For each activity, grab your journal and log how high or low your engagement was during the activity (did you enjoy your time spent?) and how you feel afterwards (energized or exhausted, positive or negative?).

This process will reveal some important information about you!

Step #2: Define

The next phase of design thinking is to define the needs or insights you’ve gained through empathy. So after a few weeks, take a closer look at your journal and do a bit of reflecting. What captures your attention? Any surprises? 

When I did this exercise, I validated some things I already knew – I love spending time with people and learning about topics of interest. But the news to me was that I was also enjoying writing copy for my website. This insight led me to start publishing an email newsletter which has since become critical to my business growth.

Now it’s your turn. What insights pop out for you? What assumptions can you validate, and what new things did you discover?

Step #3: Ideate

Now it’s time to develop a set of possible solutions. This phase is meant to be playful and exploratory, leveraging the insights you’ve collected.

Burnett and Evans call this Odyssey Planning. I love this phrase – it sounds more like an adventure in the wilderness than a planning process. How you craft your odysseys is up to you – you can draw, write stories, brainstorm or create a mind map.  But the goal is to generate possibilities using pen and paper.

“Each of us is many,” Evans and Burnett say. “The life you are living is one of many lives you will live.”

So start with three possible lives:

  • A better version of the present – what your life would look like if everything stayed the same, but you added in more of the engaging and stripped out some of what leaves you drained
  • An alternate version of the present – what your life would look like if suddenly your job went away
  • A what-if-money-were-no-object version – what your life would look like if finances weren’t a constraint

Let your creative brain take over here. None of these will be your final life design, so don’t be hampered by too many rules. This is only about possibilities.

Step #4: Prototype

This phase is about collecting data to inform how we turn ideas into action plans. Now that you’ve crafted three possible lives that sound great to you. What can you do to test and validate those assumptions?

Who in your life has lived pieces of your envisioned lives? If one Odyssey involves you opening a restaurant or becoming a stay-at-home parent or launching a side hustle, who do you know who has done these things?

Find and interview people who you trust to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of their experience. Arm yourself with as much information as you can, so you can ultimately make informed choices about how to proceed.

Find and interview people who you trust to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of their experience. Arm yourself with as much information as you can.

Step #5: Test

The most valuable thing I learned while going through this life design process was that change needn’t be wholesale. You don’t have to throw out one life and take on another. You can take just one step at a time. Here’s where you put your insights, your possibilities, and your data into a blender and take small sips of the smoothie that emerges.

Maybe in your current job you spend a lot of time in meetings that drain your energy. This doesn’t mean you have to quit your job or boycott meetings. But can you craft a small experiment in which you opt out of one meeting per week and replace it with something that really lights you up? (Go back and check your journal to find the things that make you happiest).

This was my approach. I didn’t throw out my business. Instead, I started turning up the dial on things I believed would make me happy – choosing different clients, saying no to certain projects and yes to others.

If I was right, I kept going. If I was wrong, everything was reversible because I was doing this in small steps, rather than giant leaps. This process can be fun and invigorating. The beauty of human-centered design is that there is no right answer. There’s only the outcome that lifts you up.

And now it’s your turn. Are you ready to build the life you love?

 
Revisiting the Bank of Dad
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Last year, I told you about how I started my own bank. It’s called the Burton Bank, and it has one customer: my 7-year-old, Iris. The Burton Bank is based on David Owen’s book, The First National Bank of Dad. Here’s how...

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The post Revisiting the Bank of Dad appeared first on MintLife Blog.

The 5 Best Alternatives to Savings Account | The Simple Dollar
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Despite a string of interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve in 2018, returns on the average savings account continue to be meager at best. In December, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate a quarter-point to 2.5%, which was the fourth increase of 2018 and the ninth since the central bank began normalizing […]
Financial Planning for College Graduates: 11 Steps to Take Now
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Now that’s school’s over, start making good money decisions with our guide to financial planning for college graduates.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Ally Bank Review | The Simple Dollar
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As traditional banks struggle with customer frustration over hidden fees and insultingly low interest rates, Ally Bank has positioned itself as the antidote to these problems.
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