Unleashing your full potential both personally and financially is an admirable, though tough goal to reach.
Go Banking Rates’ January Money Makeover series profiles individuals and families across the country who have done just this, accomplishing significant wins in 2012 for a stronger financial outlook in the New Year.
The last instalment of the series shares one mother’s financial journey to accomplish her entrepreneurial dream, and how others in her position can do the same.
Lisa Cash Hanson, a former Las Vegas celebrity impersonator and singer, sought to steady her family’s finances by abandoning her career as an entertainer to take on a business of her own creation with the help of cash from the Huggies mum Inspired Grant. Along the process, Hanson successfully paid off her auto loan and established a college savings account for her infant daughter.
Go Banking Rates: What gave you the courage to transition from your previous job to being an entrepreneur?
Lisa Cash Hanson: There is an old saying, “necessity is the mother of invention.” I knew I needed a change and I was going to make that change happen no matter where it led. When I decided to create my baby product, the SnuggWugg®, I also began coaching other entrepreneurs.
I knew that if I stayed where I was, I would never truly reach my full potential, and the dreams in my heart would die if I didn’t at least give them a chance to grow.
It’s uncomfortable to step out, especially when you are creating the ground beneath you, because most entrepreneurs are not sure exactly where they are headed. There is no perfect road map.
What financial/budgeting adjustments did you make when going from two incomes to one?
We made a few drastic changes, by some standards. I would call our bill companies and frequently ask if they had better rates, better deals or any specials. Many times, they’d say yes and a few calls saved about $80 to $100 dollars a month.
Hint: They won’t call you if they do [have promotional rates]; you’ll have to seek those out.
Also, we quit TV for quite a few months — we didn’t have paid TV at all. We didn’t really miss it, since we watched videos instead. I also did not put a thing on our credit cards; if we couldn’t pay for it, we didn’t get it. That was very hard, because you don’t realise how many times you just want to “get it.”
What tools/resources did you use to balance finances for your personal expenses, such as paying of your car with the launch of your business?
I used my online banking system to tell me when bills were due to avoid unnecessary finance and late charges. Then we would pay just a little bit extra on the car each month and that helped.
How did you hear about the Huggies mum Inspired Grant? How has it helped your family?
I’m a customer of Huggies. I had heard about it on their website, but ironically, I was called to go and interview the winners from last year because of my other award-winning blog, MompreneurMogul.com. It was then I heard the winners’ stories and I knew that I would be submitting my own baby product invention, the SnuggWugg®, very soon.
Two things about that:
- I didn’t feel ready. I had a prototype, but I was not sure what else I would do — I didn’t want to wait. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur it means jumping in and forgetting your perfection syndrome. Watchers don’t make money, only action-takers do.
- To have an endorsement for the SnuggWugg®, my diaper changing baby pillow with smart phone option, from the Huggies mum Inspired Grant Program is amazing.
When my product launches later this year I’ll be able to utilise the Huggies logo on my packaging, creating brand trust and recognition. That is amazing.
Right now we have a promotion for parents to win a SnuggWugg by visiting our website, and getting the very first one when we launch hopefully by April or May of 2013.
Of course the $15,000 seed money Huggies provided was a huge boost as well and went toward my utility patent and manufacturing costs. We still have investors contacting us, so there are many exciting things in the works for SnuggWugg® this upcoming year.
How did you approach negotiations with your utility providers? What is a common challenge you faced when reducing your bills/services, and what negotiation strategies would you offer readers?
It was very easy, actually. I would simply call a company and ask if they had partnerships with other companies I did business with, better rates or other ways I could save.
For example, one time there was a knock at the door and that one visit knocked off about $65 a month. They were from our phone company, and said I could partner with our paid TV provider at a special rate.
Some of the challenges occurred when companies said they didn’t have a discount. I’d have to ask for another manager or someone who could actually make a better deal for us.
So my negotiation strategies are:
- Call your companies at least once a month. Ask for any specials, discounts or partnerships they may have with other services you use that may save money.
- If you do get charged a late fee on your credit card, call and ask for it to be removed — oftentimes, they will do it.
- Set up alerts so that you know a few days in advance when bills are due, so you can avoid late fees.
- Read all bills carefully. Many times we just blindly send our money to companies. I’ve seen a $100 charge or more just to call and find out it was for a protection service I didn’t order, or some other charge from the company to make a profit. I asked them to take it off, and they did; if you’re not aware, you could be paying these fees.
- Be bold. You have nothing to lose by asking, so ask and see what happens.
What was the biggest financial challenge you faced in the process? How did you overcome it?
The greatest challenge was when week after week there would only be $30 in the bank account after bills were paid. That was challenging.
My faith helped me through most of that time, but I also kept saying to myself again and again, “This will pass. I have enough money to do everything I ever need.” Of course, I followed that with responsible actions also.
Why was opening a savings account for your daughter so important to you?
I don’t want her to be concerned about money when it’s time to go to school. There are already so many pressures in life, if we can alleviate just one that may possibly give her a better chance in life it would be wonderful. Then, she could focus on studying and working if she’d like, but at least she won’t be struggling and drowning in debt.
What is the most unexpected financial realisation that you’ve encountered during this achievement?
That bills are here to stay, and fretting about them never paid a single one. I’ve also discovered that there is always a way to get things done; it may take a little sacrifice, but there is always a way. I never say I can’t afford it — I think, “how can I make it happen?”