Internet Inspirations: Last Gasp for Winter

March 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Winter's last gasp!

Winter’s last gasp!

Enjoy these interesting reads from around the internet as we wait for spring to evict winter from Maryland!

Here’s some great tips over at PT Money about checking out a potential employer’s approach to work/life balance. Even in this tight job market, it is still important to align jobs with your values.

We’ve written about how Craig’s List can be a great source for job listings, but as we mentioned, do your due dilligence. The Job Bait scam is described in this Wise Bread article. Use common sense and be careful about what personal information you share.

This article is part of a series on Women and Money over at and includes some good ways to keep your professional life moving forward even when you’re out of the traditional 9 to 5.

I loved, loved this article at the Jane Dough weighing in on the whole women and working debate that has been raging lately. The title alone is fantastic: “Why We Don’t Need Any More Female Billionaires Telling Us How To Have It All”. I really like the point Colette McIntyre makes that not all women have the same advantages as billionaire CEO’s and where are the men in this conversation?

And for something completely different…

I thoroughly enjoyed this guest post over at Mr. Money Mustache from David Cain entitled, “How To Walk Across A Parking Lot.” No, really. Read it and think about it.

Posted by: Heather C.

Taking A Financial Road-trip….

February 1, 2013 § 1 Comment

What is your financial road trip style?

Your road trip style can be a guide for planning your financial goals! (photo (c) 2012 Heather Comstock)

Just a few weeks ago, we marked the start of 2013.   There was the usual excitement about the New Year and enthusiasm for reforming habits.  Each year, commitments around improving personal finances make up more than 1/3 of all resolutions. As the weeks wear on though, the holiday bills come due, the heating bill soars and sticking to your goal seems impossible.   You are not alone. Nearly 1/2 of resolution-makers abandon their plans before January closes.  But, getting back on track may not be as tough as it seems. Reflecting on how you navigate through life may help you adjust your money management habits and increase your chances of success.

Remember, life is one big road trip…and that includes your financial life.   The way you plan for getting to your destination behind the wheel tells a lot about your personality.   Are you lost without your GPS, or do your prefer plot your route with your trusty-map and highlighter in hand?  Think about how you travel the road and apply it to your finances.

GPS’ers:  Plug in your destination, decide on a catchy name for your computer generated voice (Gertrude is mine) and do EXACTLY what she tells you.  Autopilot all the way!  She’ll get you there for sure (although you may be routed through Canada along the way from Chicago to Boston).  Never fear though, you WILL arrive at your destination in time to enjoy a cup of “chowdah”.

If you are a GPS traveler when it comes to money, you need to find tools to automate your financial life. To control your budget, use your bank’s automatic bill-paying service.   Take advantage of retirement plans offered by your employer and sign up for the automatic paycheck deductions into the plan.  Ask your employer if you can split your paycheck into two bank accounts.  Use one for your monthly expenses, and allocate the remainder to a second account earmarked just for saving.

Map-Maven:  Do you love to gaze at the crisscrossing patterns of the roads?  When someone mentions a legend, do you instinctively look for the little box at the bottom of a page, rather than Tony Bennett? Does the feel of damp paper soaked with yellow highlighter ink bring a smile to your face?

If you answered yes, you definitely prefer hands-on control of your road trip, and will probably enjoy taking personal control of your financial life as well.   For you, a program like Mint ( will allow you to analyze exactly how you spend your money so you can improve and track your progress each month.   A program like StickK ( incentivizes you to reach your goals (financial and otherwise).  Most people who use StickK select a financial penalty (although it’s not required) for wavering from their goals. But, the program allows you to pay your penalty to a loved one or donate it to one of 8 selected charities. (For instance, if dining out is what derails your budget, set a StickK goal to spend less than $100 a month on eating out or pay a $10 penalty.) Programs like Smarty Pig ( and Payoff ( offer a game-like atmosphere for setting and achieving your saving and debt-reduction goals.

Start by knowing the type of road-trip navigator you are, and apply the same style to your financial life. But most of all, don’t quit.   February is almost here! Even if you have had a detour in your financial plans in the past couple of weeks, find the tools that work for you and get back on the road to financial success.

This guest-post is by long-time friend of Pinnacle,  Michelle B. Glassburn.  Michelle is a non-profit executive, financial education advocate, and mother of two based outside of Boston, Massachusetts.  You can follow Michelle on Twitter @M_Glassburn.

Happy Thanksgiving from PEC!

November 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

As we wind down this short business week, we take some time this week for Thanksgiving before catapulting into the busy holiday season.  We hope you’ll enjoy these reads as much as we did around PEC!

Permission to Suck

Okay so this is from the folks at MAKE magazine who tend to focus more on engineering and mechanical things, but the reality is, we all have to start somewhere. If you want to wait until you’re perfect at something to get started, you’ll never get going.

Can you Really Have It All? Seven Keys to Finding Balance

As we gear up for the busy holiday season, here are some great tips on how to create the space you need to focus on what’s truly important to you!

The Fermata

Seth Godin ponders the role of the Fermata which isn’t just for music!

Lighting Your Flame

Rochelle Moulton is thankful for those who have helped inspire her and keep her moving.  Who are you thankful for this holiday?

All of us here at PEC are thankful for the wonderful community who support us in our mission.  We hope that you and your families have a wonderful holiday together!

Reading Roundup

September 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

We’ll miss you summer. Welcome autumn and finding our new school and business year groove!

Labor Day is past and all of us here at Pinnacle are trying to find our back in school routines!  We’ve been mulling over different things and here’s some of the interesting things we’ve run across on the web this week!

Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich has a bombastic style.  I keep coming back to his site because he’s not afraid to call a duck, a duck.  His posts are challenging and dead on.  I really liked this one about networking with some great how-to’s on Natural Networking.    You can further find him on Yahoo! with this great article “Worst. Career Advice. Ever.”  

If  you’ve ever thought about working from home, wondering which leads are legit is usually the next question.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of scams out there.  On the flip side, this article from Monster has some great tips on evaluating work at home opportunities.

And because I have become a HUGE fan of Margaret Heffernan, I found this article called  “Marker Movement” Could Change How You Manage rather interesting.  My favorite line from the article:  “So here’s my question: If people are so creative in their own time with their own money, why is it so hard to build and sustain such levels of creativity at work?”  Are you more creative on your own time than on the company’s?

And finally, I stumbled on Nerd Fitness via the Time Management Ninja.  Steve posted this great article on “10 Ways to Gamify Your Life” which I loved.  The article points out that as kids we manage to make games out of all kinds of random events and encourages us to try it as adults.  Gamifying things like exercise or trips to the grocery store can help us meet our goals by making these tasks more fun. What are you going to gamify this week?

Posted by:  Heather C.

Pipping and Cootie Shots: Inoculating Against Negativity

September 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Beat back negativity and keep a smile on your knee!

Negativity is a destructive force. And it is contagious. When you don’t actively push back it begins to permeate everything. You begin seeing everything through this dark prism and everything is unsatisfactory. Your language and your body reflect it. Everyone else can feel it and may begin avoiding you thus feeding the negativity and reinforcing it. It erodes your power and control over your own destiny and eventually you believe you can do nothing to make it better.

Is there a cootie shot to inoculate myself against negativity when I know I am going into a situation that is going to trigger these feelings and thus prevent it from starting? I conducted a completely informal email poll with the lovely ladies of Pinnacle for their suggestions!

Know before you go. Some places you already know are going to be triggers. If you know that spending all day with your extended family drives you a little crazy, plan for a break to regroup. Take a magazine to read or plan to take a long walk after lunch. Try not to schedule back to back meetings or too many professional events at one time. Make sure you’re in tip top shape before the event – get a good night’s sleep & eat a good breakfast before heading into a stressful situation.

Adjust your Attitude (and expectations). I forget this one, but it is keenly important before going into a situation that will be stressful to ensure your attitude and expectations are in line with the situation. Lisa and Cindy both suggest taking a few minutes before going in, to take a few deep breaths to calm and center yourself. Cindy recommends counting to 10 before responding to anything.

Be prepared. Cindy noted that the unexpected can take mildly inconvenient events and blow them into major stressful events. Ever had an important meeting scheduled and had one of your kids wake up sick? If you have backups in place, it’s easier to stay on track and not become overwhelmed and by extension harried and stressed.

Stay Focused on Your Goal. Cindy suggested writing down your goal for the meeting or the event. She said having that written reminder in front of you can help you keep things on track.   This advice holds true for both professional and personal situations!

Think of the children (or your pets). They are a great excuse to get away from a negative situation! Take them for a walk or to the playground for a break as a reason to cut negative conversations short during family events. Excuse yourself from difficult conversations with a co-worker telling them that you have tasks to complete because you have to leave to and let your dog out!

Get (or be) a pip. Never underestimate the power of someone close to you reminding you of what they like and admire about you and vice versa. That can snap a negative spiral dead in its tracks. Pip somebody you love (or a complete stranger) today and you just might be stopping a negative streak cold.

Embrace the Power of Music. When I feel myself getting into a funk, I apply liberal amounts of goofy music. They need to be peppy, ridiculous, & fun! You can use these as a preventative measure as well. Play some upbeat songs on the way to your next job interview and you’ll walk in with a smile on your face and a little bounce in your step.

Here’s a sampling of our Negativity Buster Playlist:

  •  The Commodore’s Brick House
  • Lipps, Inc. Funky Town
  • Toby Keith’s Red Solo Cup
  • Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe
  • LMFAO’s I’m Sexy & I Know It
  • Duran Duran’s Rio
  • Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody (I always picture Wayne’s World when I hear it)
  • Weird Al’s Eat It

What else can be an inoculation against negativity? What would you put on your Negativity Buster Playlist?

Posted by:  Heather

Vacation From My Vacation

August 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Sometimes you just need to point out the obvious! A view from Tuolumne Meadow in Yosemite National Park in California.

Summer is drawing to a close.  The Back To School stuff is out in the stores.  Our vacation is over.  Time to push the reset button and get back into the regular groove.  I love the end of summer and start of autumn.  It feels like the new year and it holds all sorts of promise for the coming months ahead.

We’ve been on an epic vacation this summer and now that we’re home, I’ve got reset everything from internal clocks to habits to getting things accomplished professionally.

Take a vacation to recover from the vacation.   I deliberately didn’t schedule anything this week.  Nor did I have high hopes for my output so I didn’t have a To Do list for this week.  We’re home and we’re taking care of laundry, unpacking, grocery shopping, and other errands, but my goal has been only one or two things daily.

Resetting good habits.  We have a variety of habits from eating right to exercising that were haphazardly adhered to on our trip.  I am not going to get all of them reset at one time so I have prioritized and am focused on one at a time.  First up, resetting our internal clocks from Mountain & Pacific Time back to Eastern.  That’s been hard especially for my second grader.

Resetting the budget.   We have a budget and I track our spending monthly so we can ensure we’re meeting our goals.  The vacation was outside the norm of regular spending and I have to stop the habit of whipping out the credit card.  We’re not on vacation anymore and I need to return to my habits of shopping lists and staying out of stores, thus “stopping the shopping momentum” as discussed by writer Sierra Black at Get Rich Slowly.

The To Do List.  I love my To Do List.  It keeps me sane.  This week as things have drifted up into my consciousness, I have jotted them down on the list to get to.  My list is a sheet of paper with columns where I create categories and slot the task into the appropriate place.  It looks a little like this.  My list this week is more of a brain dump of things to do and it’s helpful to write it down knowing I won’t forget it.

Get elementary.  I ran across this great idea of creating door hangers with chores written on clothespins from Lora at My Blessed Life.  Now, I know this is for kids, but I thought it would be fantastic for me to tackle of the some daily routines I want to cultivate.  I spent yesterday working on creating one for me to help me with some of my goals such as remembering to take my vitamins and trying to get my five servings of fruits and veggies (it’s harder than you might think!).  I can move the clip as I do something and a quick glance will show me what I still need to accomplish during the day.

My finished product. Not too cute but definitely gets to the point!

With the approaching start of the school year, the sight of fresh school supplies is tantalizing and promising.  This is the time of year when I review and renew my goals rather than waiting for New Year’s Day.  But, as we recover from our cross-country trip, I remember the words of the very wise Father Kemper, “Go easy on yourself!”  By jotting things down as they come to me, I can slot them into my to do list where I have time and energy.  I also know that by focusing on the basics of sleeping, eating, and exercising, I will have enough energy and brain power to tackle the other items on my list.

What about you?  Got any tips for recovering from vacation and resetting for the autumn?

Posted by: Heather Comstock

Purse Shopping and Group Brainstorming

July 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is a post from our fabulous intern, Jennifer Reitz. Jennifer is finishing her doctorate degree and helping PEC develop this new project! We’re thrilled to have her expertise at the Empowerment Center.

We’ll seize an opportunity to shop for accessories, but what about leadership opportunities? (photo by Nancy Arseneault)

“Oh wow, I love your purse!” This compliment means a lot to a woman who has spent hours shopping for the right purse, and it definitely sweetened my day to hear it from a co-worker a few weeks ago. What was your last purse-shopping experience like? One of my childhood memories involved trudging through store after store on a Saturday afternoon with my Aunt Deb in search of “the one”- that special purse that meets as many criteria as possible on the purse “must have” list: the right size, color, material, strap length, number of pockets, a good price…and the list goes on. Some of us ladies are a bit more particular than others when it comes to purse-hunting, but we can readily apply this scenario to some other situations in our lives. Looking for the right house? Spouse? Daycare for your kids?

My most recent job search resembled purse-shopping in many ways. When I started searching for a new job after my husband’s out-of-state job transfer, I knew exactly what job I was looking for, and I was sure it’d be a piece of cake to snag it. My academic counselor had assured me that my advanced degree would make me an asset any organization and former employers had nothing but praise for work I had done in the past. Well, things sometimes don’t go as planned, do they? You might visit seven different stores to find the perfect purse, only to have to wait a month for it to go on sale. One important lesson I’ve learned is that there’s more to a job than meets the eye- you might love the paycheck, but hate the hours… or love the hours, but feel like you’ve wasted your education.

What drew me to PEC was the idea of working with others who have experienced the same “being stuck-ness” that I have, and helping those who are “stuck” back onto the right path. You could say that PEC wants to help you find the right purse! When we don’t have the resources to get “unstuck” sometimes we end up settling for something less than what we want or less than what we need, just for the sake of being done with the search. It’s kind of like buying the ugly purse on clearance because we were tired of looking, right?

Does this sound like you, a friend, or a family member? Awesome! Well, sort of…I say that because we need you (or them) on August 2 from 6:30 to 8pm for a Focus Group, or essentially a group brainstorming session. PEC is introducing an innovative experience-based leadership program starting late this fall, and we could really use your feedback to make it just what you and other ladies in our area need. If you’ve worked with PEC in the past, you know how important this is to our mission! We believe this type of program is exactly what many of could use to get “unstuck” and get just a little closer to our career goals, and we can only do it with your excellent insight. Check out our flier, and we really hope to see you there on August 2nd as we continue to guide ladies to their own “perfect purse!”

PEC focus group flier

For more information, email Jen at jennifer.m.reitz (at) or call the PEC office at 410-799-1097!

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