Usually I wait until December 31st or January 1st to assess my financial condition.
I ask myself the following questions:
How much have I saved?
Is my money in the right accounts?
Is my retirement account percentage enough?
Do I have a balance in my Flexible Spending Account?
Have I contributed enough to my IRAs (deductible or non-deductible)?
Have I donated as much as I wanted to?
With the blur of the holidays fuzzing out my faculties, I decided that halfway through the year is probably a better time to check my financial diagnostics. By December I don’t remember anything and I don’t have time to fix anything to fall within the calendar year.
This weekend’s activities involved conquering a mountain of laundry and getting to my fiscal monitoring. Here’s a list of things I took care of and recommend:
Because I feel that every aspect of life overlaps with financial success, I feel strongly about a topic that most people don’t consider related. In fact, most take it for granted and neglect it when it needs everyday attention. Here we go: Everyone must take charge of their health. OK, I can feel the collective groan. You mean I have to eat chunks of tofu? Um, no, but it would help to put down the donuts.
Here’s the downside of not managing your health. Feeling like a slug all the time might be a hint. Having minor, chronic discomfort is another clue, whether it be from digestion, skin problems, allergies, or constantly getting a cold.
Here’s my day when I don’t eat right, exercise, or sleep well: cranky, no focus, foggy-headed, lethargic. I can’t read anything beyond a third-grade level and I don’t want anyone near me. After a few days, it’s like I’ve chosen Door #1 to the dark vortex that brings on depression. Eventually, everyone will run from me but I don’t care because all I want to do is lay down.
I would like to weigh in on a hot topic. My friend at Budgets Are Sexy posted an article on why we buy stuff. J. Money’s piece emphasizes that buying makes us feel good. Clearly true. However, there are more reasons to explain why we possess compulsive spending habits.
The Sophistication of Marketing
I just read in Investor’s Business Daily that 7% of adults think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. 7% is a small percentage of the population, but it’s hard to conceive that anyone believes that. With that level of gullibility, no wonder marketers have brainwashed us into giving up our paychecks to endlessly buy things.
One of my favorite books is Born To Buy by Juliet Schor. It not only reports on the sophistication of marketing but chronicles the stealth methods used to convert children into lifelong buying robots. Given that the book was printed in 2004, and the author’s study subjects are adult age by now, most millennials have already been transformed into consumer zombies.
If my head were to split open, blobs of financial material would spill out. The latest stock prices of Amazon, Veeva, Comcast/how much I plan to save this month/the order that my bills need to be paid to meet my savings plan/ Trump’s tax proposal and his idea of tax rates that are going to enhance working lives/what sector of the stock market is on the verge of growth/how much I plan to spend this month. Small splashes of yoga poses that I plan on attempting might be in the brain matter, but at a minimal level. I gave up on twisting myself into a helix years ago. What I’m getting at is the majority of my mind is focused on financial elements. I realized that most people don’t have a grip on this topic and I had an idea to put it into a book.
In How Ally Found Her Financial Freedom, I take the reader through common financial problems – no idea how to manage money, accumulating debt, little knowledge of financial instruments. Ally is a working professional with no money management skills. She’s deep in debt and wonders why she impulsively spends money. Ally acknowledges that she doesn’t have all the answers and finds a mentor. Cue Victoria, a family friend that Ally feels has the accomplishments and successes that Ally longs for. Victoria commits to her mentor role, providing sound advice and guidance. Ally is compelled to examine how she thinks about money, especially her personal money script. She’s challenged to think about money every day and remain disciplined. Ally takes bite-size actions, baby steps to pursue financial contentment.
We all have one. A money script, that is. Money scripts are underlying behavioral principles that dictate money habits. You know, the ones that cause you to throw caution to the wind when strolling through Bed Bath & Beyond. Surely you needed the extra five kitchen gadgets, especially the one that juices lemons while catching the pits. Money scripts are also responsible for having feelings of jealousy and bitterness hijack your senses at the sight of a Porsche whizzing by.
Based on indelibly etched experiences of life that form each person’s money habits, individuals form impressions of the significance of money and how it affects their life. By absorbing messages from our environment, unconscious impressions about money form lifetime behaviors. Often learned from parents and social settings, a money script based on dysfunctional patterns may lead a person to develop extreme habits like overspending or underspending, running deep into debt, or being so miserly as to forgo basic necessities. While the money script remains hidden in the subconscious, the corresponding behaviors emerge on a daily basis, controlling a person’s actions without the individual understanding the reason for their habits. Continue reading “Money Scripts”
I promised that I would write about my investing mistakes. I suppose it’s time to come clean.
Most of my career involved working at Big 4 accounting firms and large corporate tax departments in the financial services industry. Working for a Wall Street firm was no guarantee that I was proficient at making good investment decisions. The reality is that I was aggressively ambitious in my career and rarely paid attention to the important tenets of investing. Back then, my job required long hours and there were summers that I didn’t see the light of day. Inevitably, every other area of my life was neglected. Getting advice from colleagues was no help either. See my guest post on DistilledDollar.com. I read a few books, but my immature mind and stupid habits managed to squash my investing success.
Consider these blunders:
Betting on the next best thing: Nanotechnology. I thought I was catching an unknown trend in technology. Bye-bye $8,000.
Expecting Quick Results:
HD Home Depot – Bought Sept, 2002: $33.36, Sold in 2006 at $37.50; today $156.00.
AMAT Applied Materials – Bought Oct 2002: $11.91, Sold in 2006 at $17; today $44.00.
Let me state emphatically: I didn’t sell these stocks because I needed the money.I sold them because they weren’t blowing my socks off. Despite a 40% gain, AMAT wasn’t turning me on.
If I wanted to, I could fill this blog with posts of all the basic financial gems like budgeting templates, savings calculators, and mortgage interest rates. Because there’s no shortage of said material, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite sites: Feed The Pig .
Feed The Pig is a National Public Service Campaign sponsored by the American Institute of CPAs and the Advertising Council. The site’s mascot is not the most attractive pig I’ve seen, but stay with me. His head is a piggy bank and that’s where the parallel message lies.
The presentation is meant to appeal to young people, or those that we’ve affectionately labeled the Millennials. Us Baby Boomers would be remiss in our obligation to society if we failed to engage this genre. According to SoFi (www.sofi.com), 39 percent of Millennials would rather disclose a preexisting sexually transmitted disease to a potential partner than reveal how much debt they have.