Category Archives: Think

6 Great Ways to Promote Teamwork in the Workplace

This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.

Regardless of how big or small your company is, teamwork is one of the best ways to get the most out of your employees. It not only provides a better working environment but can also boost productivity. Here are 6 great ways to promote teamwork in the workplace.

Employ the right people.

To achieve a good team environment, you need to employ the right people. Being impressed by a candidate’s resume and experience is all well and good, but if they are not likely to work well with your existing staff, they are probably not the right fit for your team. 

When interviewing, think about how each potential employee will fit in with the current dynamic and follow your instincts, being careful that your instincts are not prompted by internalized discriminatory beliefs.

Employee wellness programs.

Employee wellness programs are designed to help maintain employee health and mental wellbeing. When carried out as a group effort, they can also be great for teamwork. Wellness activities for groups can range from organized walks to charity fundraising. They are a fabulous means of getting employees to interact and work together as well as promoting a healthier lifestyle. 

Communication.

If staff don’t communicate effectively, they are not likely to work well as a team, which can result in tension and animosity. Actively encourage communication at all levels and explain to your staff why it’s so important.  

If there is a lack of flow of information between departments, explain to them what the information is used for, why it is needed, and the impact it could cause if not communicated correctly. Going back to basics can be enough to make a difference.

Deal with issues straight away.

If you notice an issue forming between certain members of staff or specific departments, nip it in the bud. Find out from everyone involved what the issues are and agree on a resolution. It’s important to hear both sides and don’t alienate anyone. If someone feels like they aren’t being heard or are being treated unfairly, teamwork isn’t going to be a priority for them. 

Teambuilding days.

Teambuilding activities are specifically designed to reach an end goal that can only be achieved if everyone works together. From an organized treasure hunt to building a treehouse, the activities not only provide lots of fun but promote good communication and help staff build trust in each other.

Socializing outside office hours.

Socializing is a great way to promote teamwork. Many companies host an annual barbeque or family fun day where employees meet up for a few drinks and some food and get to know each other on a different level. It’s an opportunity for colleagues to let their hair down and spend a bit of informal time with each other. 

Conclusion

Good and effective collaboration can not only make a business more productive but can increase employee satisfaction levels. Actively promote teamwork within your organization, and you might be surprised at the results.

Contextualizing Trauma in Personal Finance Content

Hi, I love you all and hope you are holding up okay. Just a note before today’s post to remind you that I’m not a psychologist, psychiatrist or any other type of mental health professional. Also, a trigger warning that this post deals with themes that are congruent with other types of trauma outside of or concurrent with the effects of the current pandemic.

We are all grappling with what’s happening around us. It’s been traumatic. While it’s definitely been harder for some more than others, this pandemic is something that has affected us all.

I really liked this analogy from Brittany Packnett Cunningham, that we’re all in the same storm, but we are NOT all in the same boat.

This type of trauma is difficult. It’s persistent. Inescapable. You learn to live in it without fully getting the chance to step out of it and recover.

In the midst of all this, we’re all more irritable. Our buttons are easier to push than ever, with stress maxing out our tolerance for bullshit.

In the midst of all this trauma, I want to contextualize the personal economic discussions you’re sure to see flying around the web right now, especially on personal blogs like this one.

These are my interpretations of what I see happening around me in my community — and honestly within my own content. My interpretation may differ from your own, and I welcome respectful discussion in the comments.

Responses to Trauma

There are three basic responses to trauma with which I’m familiar enough to reference. None of these responses are right or wrong. They’re defense mechanisms your body is using to try to survive. To get through to that next moment when danger is no longer imminent.

Fight

One response to trauma is to try to fight your way out.

This might manifest in your personal finances with a newfound hyper-vigilance over your budgeting spreadsheet.

It might make you side hustle super hard.

You might also find yourself fighting for the health and safety of those around you above economic impact.

Whether that’s begging your mom not to go to work or working on a larger scale to assist those most exposed to the virus get the equipment, care or social programming they need.

Because this economic hardship and all the trauma that comes along with it is likely to last for a long time — though I do not yet believe it will last forever — a sustained fight response is also likely to lead to burn out. Maybe even crash-and-burn-style burnout.

Flight

If your response is flight, right now things are complicated.

If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve seen that vlogger who tried to escape to Hawaii. And another blogger who packed her family in an RV to escape the NYC area.

Both situations were met with much ridicule, and understandably so. No links because this is not about shaming these people. Their responses are anecdotally relevant here, though.

In normal times, flight is an okay thing to do. These are not normal times. Exercising flight in traditional ways can be dangerous to the health of others around you, if not to your own.

Diet & Exercise are just like Personal Finance!

Exercising as a way to express flight is a thing — especially right now as we’re metaphorically running from a temporally inescapable problem.

So if you’re really annoyed by everyone pretending they’re a marathon runner or feel like simply scrolling through your feed right now is akin to ritual shaming, know that it’s not about you.

Also, remember you got that mute button. 😉

A lot of people are dealing with the stress this way. It’s normal. For some people, it’s even super healthy.

You’re probably going to see a lot of blog posts about how diet and exercise are just like personal finance.

If it doesn’t resonate with you, that’s okay. You can go read something else, perhaps even noting that this content may be helping others who are dealing with all this trauma in a different way than you are.

If you’re creating this content, it would also be cool if you could be conscientious that flight is not the only way of dealing with all the stress. That you can take things too far with diet and exercise. And that if someone comes out of this thing without a six-pack or $100k net worth, it definitely doesn’t make them an inferior human being.

But like also don’t touch that 401(k).

The market looks scary right now.

But rocky times in the economy should already be accounted for your long-term plan. Pulling out of the market feels like the right thing to do thanks to the flight response, but depending on how you’ve invested, it’s likely to be detrimental to your own long-term financial goals.

Even if you’re not able to contribute to your retirement account, try to do everything you can to avoid touching your retirement savings.

Know that in so many cases, even in bankruptcy, creditors cannot touch most tax-advantaged retirement account savings.

That being said, the complications of living with a bankruptcy on your record can be dire in the best of times. Make the best decisions you can based on your own, individual circumstances. You may even be able to consult with a pro bono lawyer to get personalized legal guidance when considering bankruptcy vs. pulling from your retirement savings.

Also beware long-term that those who have endured trauma tend to be unnecessarily and sometimes detrimentally conservative with their investments.

Freeze

Freezing is another perfectly valid response to stress. Traditionally, your body might shut down or shield you from pain responses to help you survive the initial impact of physical trauma. You might feel the need to cut yourself off from others virtually, even when we are separated physically already.

In response to economic trauma, you might need this time to rest. To not hustle super hard. To gather your energy for what comes next. Emotionally recover from all the freedom and personal power you have lost in the past month.

That’s okay, too. Just know it’s going to be helpful long-term to generally keep on top of your finances as much as possible, even if you can’t give them the boost they may need right now. None of this is your fault.

There are no right or wrong reactions.

In response to trauma, there are no right or wrong reactions as far as which response manifests. I think as we each pull through this thing in our own way, we need to remember that we’re all going to respond differently.

Because this experience is sustained, we might even cycle through different reactions. That’s actually supposed to be healthier than habituating one of them, even though habituation is likely to happen in cases of sustained trauma.

That means not every article is going to speak to our individual experience. That’s okay. In fact, that same article that doesn’t speak to you today could end up being really motivating or reassuring a few weeks or even days down the line.

Take as little offense as possible if you’re not reacting the way a certain writer proposes you should be. It’s just going to add to your stress. In many cases, it’s an unnecessary burden in this time of sheer overwhelm.

If you’re creating content, it’s helpful to remember this, too. To not insult those who are dealing with the stress differently in any given moment in an attempt to inspire.

Because while there’s not one, right reaction to the trauma we’ve all experienced, we also need to remember that there are multiple ways of dealing with this experience.

Just because we haven’t experienced a reaction personally doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.

And just because we have experienced a reaction personally doesn’t mean it’s superior to the response of others.

Harnessing our reactions for the better.

If you find yourself in fight mode, by all means use that energy to send those personal finances into to hyperdrive. That’s how this blog was born.

It’s also why I can tell you first-hand that when you’re in fight mode, the risk of burnout is real. Be cognizant of it, and try real hard to do all that mindfulness stuff to bring yourself back to center. Force yourself to take breaks, even if they initially feel uncomfortable.

If you find yourself in flight mode, be cognizant that the very natural reaction to want to pull out of all financial institutions in a moment like this is real.

But it’s against all traditional financial advice, even and perhaps especially the stuff written for turbulent times like these.

If you find yourself frozen, that’s okay, too. You’re going to have more energy after everyone else has jogged and side hustled their way through this first period of the downturn. Take care of your mental health first and foremost.

If you really just can’t get going again, seek help via a telehealth service like www.betterhelp.com. As much as stalling out is sometimes the only thing you can do, your bills don’t see things the same way I do.

There are programs out there to help right now. The first Pennsylvanian unemployment check with that $600/week boost just went out. Some assistance is coming, even if we’re slow to see the money manifest in our pocketbooks.

No matter what your response, before your money, you want to address your mental health. Just because you’re not frozen doesn’t mean it’s not a problem.

Support Autistic Artists

In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, Femme Frugality will be hosting a series of Wednesday articles that focus on the financial challenges and triumphs those on the spectrum face and achieve.

Today, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to #StandWithSmall business owners, I wanted to bring back this post. All of the featured pieces sold, so the features have been updated to reflect the freshest of what’s out there.

I wrote it a couple years ago before moving into my new place. It’s frivolous if you’re facing economic turmoil right now.

But if you do have some money to spend and are looking to use it in support of others during this crisis, check out these amazing Autistic artists.

Wow, there's some great artists on this list--a lot of them working for Autism Acceptance! Headed to Etsy...

I’m getting ready to move in the very near future here. It’s the first time in my life that I’ll have complete control over how my place is decorated, and I’m pretty psyched about that part.

In my mind’s eye, I can already see a couple blank spaces on the wall that I want to fill. While I’m not sure I will — because budget — that didn’t stop me from engaging in my guilty pleasure: browsing Etsy.

Because it’s Autism Acceptance Month, I decided to check out autistic artists on the platform. Last year, I got a pair of earrings that really spoke to me (words I never thought I’d say) from an autistic artist who communicates primarily through visuals. As April snuck up again this year, I realized I should be doing this more than one month out of the year.

Here are some of the artists I’ve found, and pieces of their work that I love.

RoryDoyleArt

I’m in love with so many things in Rory Doyle’s Etsy Shop. This one is the Rise of the Jellyfish.

This autistic artist has many pieces featuring wildlife, landscapes and abstract designs.

Retrophiliac

If you love cats, you will love Margaux Wosk’s shop: Retrophiliac.

I mean, kittens in teacups, ski bum kitties, Picaso cats — the list goes on, and all of it is delightful.

CadenceInspirations

Cadence is an 11-year-old Australian girl who has produced a fair amount of art and writing for her age. Some of her work has focused on autism and spreading acceptance.

I love this painting from her Etsy shop, but you can view even more of her work on her website.

HeAndSheSullivan

Gah, I had such a hard time picking just one from this shop! Sarah Neat-Sullivan has a lot of work up on Etsy. Some of it’s related to autism. Some of it isn’t. She has jewelry, paintings, and art made from felt or stitching.

It’s all pretty amazing, but the one I chose to show you is called The Slow Breathing of a Hill.

Those Blank Spaces

My budget may restrict me from filling those blank spaces right now, but when that’s no longer the case, I’m excited to turn to one of these artists to fill the void.

In recent years I’ve moved from the mindset of simply spending the least amount of money possible to holding off on the purchase if possible (it’s not, always) until I am able to make a purchase that supports people or companies doing good things.

Would you open up the Amazon app and get the $10 poster delivered to your door tomorrow because you pay extra for the extra-fast delivery service?

Or would you save up for meaningful art, letting the void just sit till your budget’s ready — forget aesthetics?

Support Small Business with Fun Face Masks

This post is in collaboration with Etsy.

If you’re looking to follow the CDC’s about-face on face mask guidelines, it’s important to not buy medical grade. Those are for our hospital workers and others on the front lines.

I’m using a bandana right now. It’s frugal, but it’s not the best option. I’m looking to get something machine-washable for when we do have to leave the house.

While I’m spending money anyways, I’m looking to spend it at a small business.

Fortunately, there’s a platform that meets all three of my criteria. Etsy is a platform full of small businesses, and the non-medical-grade, machine-washable face mask options are plentiful.

8 Fun Face Masks

As I was narrowing down my options, I came to a realization: I’m a nerd kid from the 90s, and it shows.

With that in mind, here are some of my favorite fun face masks I found on Etsy:

Darth Vader Face Mask

A little bit of the dark side, brought to you by ThePackingLlamas.

UPDATE: They’re out of vader masks, but they still have some super cute ones with llamas — go figure from the shop name!

Alt Vader Face Mask

Since ThePackingLlamas ran out and you guys are loving the vader masks, I found you another Imperial covering from VERONIKHandmade!

Baby Yoda Face Mask

How is everything with baby Yoda on it so adorable? If you prefer the light side, head to LILDEVILSANDDIVAS Etsy shop!

UPDATE: They’re all sold out! You can find more baby Yoda goodness in all his Mandalorian glory at ReviveDesignsStore!

Black & Gold Face Mask

Be still, my yinzer heart. I’m choosing to interpret this black and gold face mask from GoldenSkyToronto as an ode to Pittsburgh.

DC Heroines Face Mask

I feel like this time of crisis is a good time to call on these female archetypes. Available via ThatHipsterPlace.

UPDATE: This mask has sold, and ThatHipsterPlace is almost out of stock of face masks currently. You can, however, find another bad-a Wonder Woman face mask via pinkpurr.

Hey, Arnold! Face Mask

Who else binged Hey, Arnold! on sick days when they were a kid? I forgot how much I loved it until I saw this mask from Macochi.

UPDATE: This mask has sold out! If you’re digging the 90s kids cartoon vibe, though, Macochi still has a Ren & Stimpy one left!

UPDATE: Y’all are loving these! And I’m so glad! The Ren & Stimpy one currently has a waitlist, but you’ll probably be super into this Rugrats pattern from Macochi, too.

Tiger Face Mask

I love this one because it simultaneously celebrates our collective cultural obsession with Tiger King, but it’s not so specific that it won’t still bring smiles after the trend has faded. Handcraftedsterling has a bunch of other fun animal face masks in her shop, too.

Don’t forget the kids’ face masks!

A lot of the face masks on Etsy can be ordered in kid size or adult size. I did stumble across a couple cute ones made especially for kids!

Kids’ Girl Face Masks

I’m in love with this print, but GreerTW has a TON of different options for girls. There are some traditionally boy-themed patterns, too, but options skew pink.

Kids’ Boy Face Masks

Lots of traditionally boy-themed options, at DeTudoUmPoucobyAddie. Though I legit would have loved these when I was a kid, too. There’s also some pink sprinkled into the fabric options.

Buzz Lightyear Face Mask

You can pick up this cotton kids’ face mask at ByZari’s Etsy shop. She’s sold out of this particular pattern!

We’ll get through this, friends. To infinity, and beyond!

The Power of Math: Lessons from Social Distancing School

I’ve always been good at math.

I mean, I was a girl who went through school primarily in the 20th century, so any skills I had were rarely praised, and I didn’t recognize them in myself. I got mad credit from my teachers for my language and musical skills. Probably too much for the musical skills, honestly.

But math was always something I enjoyed. It felt like it was related to linguistics; the same skills I used to craft an argumentative essay or master a song on an instrument could be applied to mathematical theory, and there was something so deeply satisfying in that.

Nontrad Life

I didn’t realize just how good I was at math until I attended college as a nontraditional student. I cared about my education in a way I never had before. Didn’t give a damn about looking cool. I gave a damn about maintaining my 4.0 GPA so I could keep all my scholarships.

With this newfound freedom, I pushed my teachers. Particularly my math teacher. To his credit, he loved every moment of the challenge. In a room full of 18-year-olds who do still care about looking cool and don’t particularly care about the quadratic equation, I think I was a much-needed boredom buster.

Every time he would expand a problem and show us how to solve, I’d ask him the same question:

Why?

The numbers on the board were nice, and I knew how to follow the pattern, but I wanted to understand the theory behind every last equation. I knew that if I understood the reasoning behind the process, I could double check my numbers and get the answer right every time.

My obnoxiousness worked. After I took down my walls, I scored over 100% on every test. Not because I’m some genius.

I’m definitely not.

But because I understood the process all the way from initial problem to end solution.

Negative Punishment and Schooling at Home

My kids have been home from school, like most kids in this country. I’m planning on it being for at least the rest of this school year, though Pennsylvania has only officially cancelled until halfway through April so far.

My kids are super lucky in that their district has mechanisms set up to educate them at home. This is a dry run; we were supposed to practice and then implement this for the first time this year during snow days. It was a light winter. That never quite happened.

It’s been bumpy.

Last week, one of my kids brought an app to me. They were really upset.

I listened and messed around with the app to see what had them so undone. It turns out, this app was using a point system that used positive reinforcement when a student completed a problem correctly with no assistance. Great.

But then it also used negative punishment if they did need to expand the problem. To see the theory. To ask:

Why?

Without getting too much into it, negative punishment is rarely an effective way to educate — at least over the long-term.

This isn’t the teacher’s fault, to be clear. My kids are very lucky to have absolutely phenomenal educators supporting them. This is a reward game usually. She hadn’t had a chance to teach the kids the theory of the particular lesson my child had picked out.

What is math?

I was pretty frustrated with the app, too. For punishing my kid when they needed to understand not only what the answer was, but how they got to that answer.

I found myself explaining to my child that math isn’t about having all the numbers memorized. Having the basics pulled up for instant recall makes things go faster, sure, but the important thing we’re trying to learn with math is problem solving.

If we don’t know the answer, is there another way we can find it? What are the numbers actually asking of us? Theoretically? Is there another way we can solve the problem? To find a solution that will help us explain the world around us in a way that allows us to move forward?

It was all more age-appropriate than that, but equally grand.

Solving Our Problems

My kid still gets frustrated with the app. But now they understand they’re not bad at math; this particular app is bad at teaching. They’re working through the theory, and asking for explanations when they need them. Then generalizing that explanation to similar math problems with different numbers.

Our conversation happened at a time where I’m overwhelmed. The change is a lot, and we’re under pretty strict restrictions here in Allegheny County. I’m grateful our governor is taking leadership and saving as many lives as he can. I’m infuriated that the President has slowed down testing efforts and gotten us to this point. We have a known outbreak and the anecdotes from the people I know alone pin us at waiting 7+ days for test results in this region.

Death is knocking every door. And in too many cases, about to slither its way inside.

Perspective.

I’m not going to understand why with this one. There is no reason. The virus only wants to survive, just like we do. The extent it affected our country absolutely could have been helped. But now that our leadership has put us in this dark situation, we can only solve the problems in front of us before we head to the polls.

I, like most everyone else, have lost access to the physical community that makes my life possible over the course of the past week. There’s nothing that can be done about it. It’s not going back to the way it was any time soon.

I don’t know what the solution to our problems is going to end up being. But I do know that it’s there somewhere.

We’ve made an official schedule to help us ward off our anxiety and prevent boredom. I’m accepting that I’m going to have to do things that aren’t fair and are going to mess up what I had planned for my life in unpreventable ways.

Math’s greatest lesson.

But this is where we’re at, like it or not, and I just might be ready to take the greatest lesson math has taught me and apply it.

Math teaches lessons through personal finance, sure.

Balancing a budget does, in fact, include subtraction, addition and a little bit of division and multiplication if you get all fancy with that spreadsheet.

But the greatest lesson mathematics can teach us is not to give up. To walk away when we feel frustrated and come back with fresh eyes. To know that there is a solution; we just have to get creative and believe in our own capabilities enough to make it happen.

The answer isn’t always going to be what we want it to be. And we have to remember — especially in our society — that behind the death tolls and unemployment numbers and educational metrics are real, human lives we have a collective moral obligation to protect without infringing upon individual Constitutional Rights.

If you’re having trouble finding answers, know that telehealth services are widely available right now, like the ones from www.betterhelp.com.

These are hard problems in dark times. But we can solve hard problems. We can do hard things. We can turn our individual and collective failures and struggles into our greatest strengths.

I’m not sure of any of the concrete solutions just yet, other than the ones referenced on this resource page that may help you depending on your life circumstances.

But I’ll let you know as I find more of them. Share yours with me, too, okay?

This is one test where it’s totally cool to look at each other’s papers.