Intuitive Christmas Spending

Christmas spending

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Christmas time is coming and it’s my favorite time of the year.  I love the lights, decorations, and parties.  The celebrations bring people together, maybe for the only time in the year.

It’s also when retailers start salivating, anticipating crazed shoppers grabbing as much as they can hold.  For e-tailers, the online ads and Black Friday emails have already started rolling in.

In light of money management, we should take the consumerism down a few notches this year.  Back when malls were the popular shopping venue, I remember reading an article about post-Christmas overload.  The mom recounted that the mall puked on her living room floor.  Her kids didn’t know what to play with first.  Her regrets led to a personal promise of a different Christmas Future.

I know how much fun it is to watch kids unwrap gifts.  Sometimes, they’re so excited they mean to throw the wrapping paper in the air but instead throw the gift in the air and hold on to the paper.  Parents like to give and give, maybe giving more than they got when they were growing up.  That makes Mom and Dad feel better about themselves, but overindulgence isn’t always necessary.  Even children, the little wanting scamps that they are, value relationships more than things.  You’ve never heard anyone say that they didn’t get enough toys when they were growing up. Continue reading “Intuitive Christmas Spending”

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Financial Planning Workshop Is A Success

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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.

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Financial Management Questions to Ask Yourself

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“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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4 Super Easy Ways to Start Investing – Today

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Start Investing Now

I continue to hear that people are confused about how to start investing.  Honestly, I don’t understand such bewilderment.  If you ask me, investing has never been easier.  Maybe before the Internet, but not now.  There is so much information out there, no one should be at a loss. However, money mentalities are responsible for this.  Everyone has their priorities and if managing their money is not near the top of the list, it gets forgotten.  If someone is immersed in their career or other priorities, their money mentality takes a back seat.  Totally understandable.

Learning how to invest can be a lifetime endeavor, and a confusing one.  With the number of available investments, it can be dizzying to even attempt to understand it all.  Dizziness leads to zone-out, and ultimately, non-action.

Here are a few remedies to ensure that you are participating in the world of investments.

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Money Learning Checklist 5 – Retirement Planning

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Planning For Retirement

“I have to work after I die to pay for the funeral.”  I overheard this comment from someone that looked like time was not on his side.

What’s happening?  How are people stretched so thin that they feel they can’t even afford to die? I know, salary growth issues are depressing and wealth inequality is making headlines on an almost daily basis, however, we still live in a country where jobs and opportunities are alive and well.

For the people living paycheck to paycheck, there’s a need to closely examine why that is.  If incoming money doesn’t cover all living expenses, it’s time to make a change.  That means moving where income meets or exceeds the cost of living or an increase in income sources is needed.   Translation: better job skills in the form of education or training.

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Money Learning Checklist 4 – IRAs

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An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a great way to accumulate a retirement stash.  It’s also a great way to protect asset growth and investment earnings from taxation.

I highly recommend contributing as early as possible.  IRA contributions can begin when an individual has earned income.  Therefore, it can begin with a teenager’s part-time earnings.  Visit your favorite bank or online broker and open an account if you don’t already have one.

Learn what your maximum contributions are

IRA contributions come with conditions.  There’s a maximum amount that can be contributed and it can change every year.  Know what yours is.  It’s based on your filing status, married vs. single, etc.  The next condition to reach is eligibility for a tax deduction.  Again, it depends on your filing status and whether you participate in your employer’s retirement plan.

For employees that participate in their employer’s retirement plan, a full or partial deductible contribution is still a possibility if the amount is less than the range specified for the type of filer.  You can easily find the current year’s table for the income ranges by filing status by doing an internet search or by looking in the IRS publication.  Notice that I’m not spelling it out, it’s up to you to gain some awareness.

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Money Learning Checklist 3 – Credit

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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

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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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