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Finance: Pay Yourself First
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What is the one piece of personal financial advice you wish someone had given you?

Great question. My parents, as with many parents of their generation, never talked about money matters…so, I had to learn about personal finance matters on my own.

My answer: I wish that someone had told me to pay myself first!

It’s a strategy that my husband, Ken, and I religiously follow…but if we had started sooner when we were married in 1971, we’d be even more financially comfortable now.

Americans are among the worst savers in the world, but you can separate yourself from the pack by taking 10% (at least) off the top of your paycheck and start by putting it in a savings accounts — or even a money market account or mutual fund.

YES…you may have to deprive yourself of some nicety that money might have purchased. (That’s why you want to create a doable budget.) But, years from now, when those frivolous purchases are long gone, you’ll be enjoying the benefits of saving and investing!

-Daria Dolan, guest blogger

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Web Marketing: 4 Questions for Every Home Page
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Is this the website of a cupcake bakery, culinary educator or caterer, or all of these? I read and reread the home page, looking for their services. Words like “organic” and “innovative” are there. The graphics are colorful and impressive. But I do not see a sentence that tells me what business they are in.

In his excellent book Don’t Make Me Think: a Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Steve Krug gives four questions your home page must answer:

1. What is this? In the case above, language about handling desserts in novel ways does not help me figure out what the site is about. Probably the word “caterer” sounds deadly dull to them, but that word helps me categorize the site correctly.

2. What do they have here? Will I find product options, class offerings, recipes, cooking links, news on how they frost cupcakes, a way to contact them? Make your main content clear.

3. What can I do here? Can I book them to handle desserts for my daughter’s engagement party? Can I register online for cupcake baking classes? Can I get updates by email of new flavors and the addition of mini-muffins? What are the most important actions you want me, the site visitor, to take on your home page? Make those actions real obvious with typeface, layout and graphics.

4. Why should I be here – and not somewhere else? Is this the only place in Chicago I can learn to bake healthy cupcakes? What’s the niche? more…

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