Improve Your Financial Knowledge

financial control

When it comes to your financial knowledge, stop pretending that you don’t know what you’re doing.  There are more resources than ever.  If you’re a book lover, read a few on personal finance.  If you’re a net surfer, start Googling up on financial terms.


Answer the following questions and take a few minutes to research anything that you don’t know.  Don’t be afraid, we all have an area that we need to focus on.  These items are off the beaten path, and from what I’ve seen, points that cause confusion.  Some are Yes/No or True/False, while others are thought questions.


I’m all about sharing knowledge.  I learn something new every day and never stop reading.



True or False:  I have a progressive career plan that will increase my earnings within the next five years.


The last time I improved my work skills was ______________.


Related Post: Money Learning Checklist 1         Earning/Saving

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2018: What To Start Doing And What To Stop Doing

2018 leap

I’m revved up for the new year.  I like to think about the books I’ll read, the new projects I’ll work on, and my new financial goals.


What I’ve accomplished during 2017 inspires me to keep it rolling.  I pulled off some difficult projects at work and earned a top evaluation rating and raise.  I finished an 18-credit certificate in Web Programming. I started this blog.  Learning WordPress on my own and customizing the blog page was a challenge, but the struggle stretched my skillset.  Blogging isn’t just about writing. It’s learning about social media, like Facebook, Pinterest, affiliate marketing, guest posting, and commenting on other blogs.  My professional development wasn’t ignored.  I conducted two financial planning workshops and presented at the IRS Practice and Procedures conference with the New York State Society of CPAs.

I could settle for contentment with my employer retirement accounts and IRAs and stay with my regular contribution levels in the same funds that I have.  Instead, I chose to probe into the concept of asset allocation and look at all of my holdings in entirety.  See my asset allocation post.  I read from different sources and put together a plan.

After opening a Health Savings Account (HSA) in 2016, I learned of a one-time traditional IRA conversion to fund the 2018 contribution.  See Related Post End of Year Money Moves and my guest post in My Strategic Dollar’s site.

I responded to questions in my financial planning workshops.  People are confused and I intend to provide clarity.  People have no financial direction and, frustrated, take no action.  People are buried under debt and think there’s no way out.  I propose to educate as many people as possible on the basics and promote not only financial literacy but the attitude that helps people help themselves.

What To Start Doing


Start a favorable course of actions.  Instead of repeating a negative cycle of staying in debt, not opening up an IRA account, pretending to not know what to do, etc., start a positive cycle of being mindful, saving, and not spending.  One sensible action leads to the next; consistency feeds consistency.

Save some money.  Set up your investment accounts now.  Pay down your debt and figure out how to cover your basic bills. Check your withholding early in the year while you still have time to do adjust it.  Contribute to your IRA in advance of the deadline, not within a week of the deadline when you have other financial obligations.

Find the silver lining in your situation.  If you haven’t started saving for retirement yet, know that you can.  Make a phone call, everyone can do that.  Don’t sit and complain that you don’t know what to do.  Trust me, banks and brokerage firms talk to people all the time that don’t know the basics.  They will guide you.  Ask them to help you set up an account and set up automatic deposits.  If you don’t set up automatic deposits, at least link your bank account electronically so that making deposits is easy.

What To Stop Doing

money management

Maybe it’s not what you do this year, but what you don’t do.  Here’s what I’m talking about.  My husband’s cell phone rang early on Saturday, December 30th, 2017, the last Saturday of the year.  It was a co-worker complaining that he was sent a letter from a law firm to decide on an IRA’s Required Minimum Distribution method before Monday, January 1, or be forced to take a distribution and be assessed a penalty.  He claims he was given two days’ notice.  My husband was listening on speaker and I started answering from the adjacent room.  His friend went on to blame the lawyer for the situation and when I suggested he print and scan the letter back to the lawyer, he sounded as if I asked him to solve the string theory of mathematics.

Complaints and excuses, a professional’s nightmare.  Clients that don’t listen.  Every action is a mountain-climbing feat or a life-or-death emergency. This guy was all of these things.

If you handle financial issues by waiting until the final Saturday of the year and then blame the bank, your accountant, lawyer, or H&R Block, stop.  Just stop.  Stop the blaming.  It’s no one else’s fault.

In the crisis above, when I prompted this guy, he admitted knowing about his mom’s IRA back in July.  He knew back then that he had to do something but chose to be an ostrich.

This behavior needs to stop.

I have known people all my life who wait until the very last minute to take care of their adult issues.  One of my friends would actually wait until the final day before cancellation of his car insurance to pay the premium.  Of course, getting up and going to the insurance office to drop off the check was a full-day project for him.  That’s not the way to be a successful, productive person.  Get ahead of your business.  Start using the calendar in your phone to set reminders in advance.

Stop blaming others for the job that you hate.  Take a class that will build on your skills.  Go to school at night for a higher paying career.  Make yourself marketable and find alternatives.

If you can’t find alternatives, I encourage you to Google the name Kyle Maynard.  Wait, I’ll make it easy for you, here’s his website:  I caught a clip of Kyle on Tim Ferriss’ talk show.  Kyle was born with no hands or feet, just four half-limbs.  He managed to get himself into the wrestling hall of fame.  Why?  Because he found alternatives.

If Kyle could find alternatives to become a successful wrestler, you can find alternatives to whatever the complaint of the day is.

Seeking Positive


I am constantly looking for inspiration.  You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero is my latest choice.  I finished You Are a Badass At Making Money.  In both, the author uses artful language to instill a sense of invincibility.  Now, I’m all for affirmations and thinking positively, and l’ve read all of Norman Vincent Peale’s books. I was looking for something more that daydreaming and the money version of Badass came through.  The basic Badass message is to embrace your innate talents and go for it.

In the money sequel, my takeaway message was not only to think about money (pretty much generic) but to go ahead with spending what you need to launch your venture.  If it means coaching, training, acquiring a skillset, do it.  Simply dreaming about a lucrative venture will not get you there, you have to do something and step on the path to wealth.


I like to use others’ experiences to raise my bar.  After seeing Kim Kardashian’s Instagram report on the stock she received from Kanye, it gives me impetus to reach a higher investment level.  My Disney account may not have 900 shares in it, but if I get to 300, or close to it, hey I did what I could.  I haven’t sold millions of albums or been on a magazine cover, but if I own one-third of what they have, I’d consider that pretty good.  Of course, I’d have to work on Netflix, Adidas, Apple, and Amazon.  Good thing I have a head start on all, except for Adidas.  It’s something to work toward, and the effort is all that matters.

Advancing Financial Knowledge


Mass-marketed financial books include those by Suze Orman, David Bach, and Dave Ramsey.  Those provide excellent roadmaps for the basics.  I’m looking for deeper analyses, like what I read in The Big Retirement Risk.  This pick was something that I impulsively pulled off the library shelf.  To my pleasant surprise, Erin Botsford explained a significant theory.  When you retire, you can own a copious amount of assets, but if you don’t generate enough income to pay your monthly electric bill, you won’t get by.  The book outlined her recommendations for meeting monthly income needs when a salary is no longer a given.

That’s how I plan on picking my next set of financial books, unknown authors with extensive career experience that educate past the fundamentals.

Getting back to my 2018 potential:  I will be adding to my HSA’s investment account, setting new savings goals, funding all my retirement accounts to the max, and furthering my investment research.


Make 2018 a propitious year. Stay open to new ideas. Take on some new habits, leave the old behind, and never stop looking for answers.

Related Posts:

4 Super Easy Ways to Start Investing – Today

Build a Credit History, Not a Credit Mystery

Money Learning Checklist 1         Earning/Saving

Money Learning Checklist 2         Spending

Money Learning Checklist 3         Credit

Money Learning Checklist 4         IRAs

Money Learning Checklist 5         Retirement

5 Things Small Business Owners Need To Know – Money Learning Checklist 6

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5 Ways Your Life Is Impacted By An Interest Rate Increase

 interest rate

Interest rates do not make for the most exciting chat topic. You won’t find it in the conversation starter game that you unwrapped for Christmas.  It’s probably easier to clear a room by yelling ‘Interest Rates!’ than FIRE!  Watch your friends and family run from you as you broach the topic of how the Federal Open Market Committee voted to keep the Federal Funds Target Rate at 1.00% – 1.25%.  Fed Prime Rate Info

Still reading? Good.  Because interest rates impact your life. Continue reading “5 Ways Your Life Is Impacted By An Interest Rate Increase”

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Build A Credit History, Not A Credit Mystery


During my latest financial planning workshop, I had the pleasure of meeting a few millennials.  It was refreshing to see their hunger for financial knowledge.  As we talked, some problematic issues of their generation surfaced, one being how to build a credit history.  They conveyed that friends wanting to rent their own apartment were turned down because they didn’t have a credit history.  Here’s one of life’s ambiguities.  Like applying for jobs that require experience when you can’t get a job to gain experience, how do you build credit when you’re just starting on the path to financial adulthood?

Related Post:  Your Life Partner, Your Credit Score


To start building credit:

Start out with a store card or gas card.

Bank money in advance before making purchases.

Pay your bills on time.

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Financial Planning Workshop Is A Success

financial planning

I’m conducting a personal financial planning workshop at a local bookstore.  In three sessions, I plan to provide an overview of the following aspects of financial planning: saving, spending, investing, retirement, and insurance.

The first session, this past Thursday, was a success.  A small group showed up representing all age groups.  I started with my usual introduction, explaining how each person’s mentality towards money drives their money habits.  With the following visual, I outlined the topics that, when combined, result in balanced financial management.

financial planning

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Financial Management Questions to Ask Yourself



“I’m wealthy enough and I have enough money, I don’t need anymore” – said no one ever

If you read many financial planning blogs on how people are retiring early, traveling on a whim, and writing their own rules, you may be taking their straight advice to reach the same result.  Save, save, save, budget, cut expenses out of your life forever.  If it leaves you wondering, What’s the secret recipe?, you’re not alone.

While it’s always good to read reference material or find the most important tips, have you stopped to ask yourself questions?

Questions require self-reflection and elicit a deeper response.  Questions provoke brain-simmering.  When you let questions float through your mind, you stir up your cognitive ability, reaching into your deepest feelings.  The edges of your mind will connect to concoct a spark of clarity that will throw the mental shades back.  You will be surprised at the ideas and awareness that will surface.  Flashes of creativity will pop to the forefront of your mind when you least expect it.  Like, when putting dishwasher detergent in the little slot, you may think of the easiest change you can make to improve your financial status, then think, “Where did that come from? And why didn’t I think of that before?”

It may be as simple as asking someone for advice, looking up a book title in the library, or going all in on opening up a new investment account.  Maybe you’ll figure out how to defer medical expenses when you re-instate your flexible spending plan.  Maybe you’ll boost your savings by making a bi-weekly habit of transferring money from your checking to your savings account before you can spend it (a proven successful habit).  Maybe you’ll pull all your credit card statements together and put them in order of payoff priority.

Challenge yourself to answer the following questions and see if you can create some new money habits or tweak your current methods.

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Money Learning Checklist 3 – Credit

money management


Everyone knows what credit is, right?  It’s a happy word.  Credit, in its contextual sense, has a positive connotation.  Credit connotes having credibility, right?  That’s right, I’m credible – just ask me.  Everyone is credible in their own mind.

Americans love credit and credit cards.  I think some people believe that a credit card is a magic bridge to avarice.  Isn’t it fun to go into a store and not have to look at prices, fill up your cart, and walk out with all that stuff?  Everyone wants to look great and be surrounded with nice things.  But, the big façade associated with credit cards is that once that card is swiped, you have traded your soul.  Your soul is traded for the debt that you just created.

To me, debt is a four-letter word.  Oh, wait it is a four-letter word, but I mean the bad kind.  As I took a break from writing this piece, I saw a political cartoon in the newspaper that expressed my sentiments about credit.  It’s a large image of It, staring down at a person with a caption of “A national horror: DEBT”.  “It” is the star of that gruesome clown movie that continues to break ticket sale records.  I burst into laughter when I saw the trailer.  This is what constitutes entertainment?

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Money Learning Checklist 2 – Spending

money management


What a time to be writing about spending.  As I watched Hurricane Irma wind its way toward Florida, I can’t wrap my mind around the amount of emotional and financial devastation.  This would be a good time to think about an emergency fund that is funded slightly or not at all.  Yes, I know insurance covers some costs and FEMA comes through, I lived through Hurricane Sandy.  But I saw a Facebook post the other day from a Florida resident explaining that she wasn’t evacuating because she had no funds to leave.  I remember the same from New Orleans residents when Hurricane Katrina blew through Louisiana.  I can’t imagine not having an emergency fund to escape a dire situation, but, according to the stats, it’s a common position.

Let’s get this straight: Less spending = more emergency fund.

I request your fixation on the next two suggestions.

Entertain the “Enough” mentality in your life

If you reach the Enough mentality, mark the day on the calendar.  It’s a worthy milestone of your financial maturity.  Too many people don’t know what ‘enough’ means.  Marketers love these people and are happy to indulge your lack of ‘enough’.  ‘Enough’ means that you have reached a saturation point with your personal merchandise, take-out dependence, or whatever it is your bank account is hemorrhaging from.  It means that you’re happy with what you have and don’t need to cure boredom by spending endlessly.  Start feeling OK with what you have.  You don’t need any more clothes, furniture, shoes, wall hangings, candles, tablets, monthly subscriptions, sunglasses, makeup, cologne, curtains, or car accessories.  Live with what you have and realize that you can live without, too.

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