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:
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”
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.
Ol’ reliable. Isn’t she a beaut? This baby is turning 20. While most people would rather be seen in the back of a hearse than a car this old, I embrace its charm. The visor sometimes falls in my lap, the radio volume lowers or becomes sharply louder when I hit a bump, and there’s that strange clicking when I put the fan setting on the front windshield.
She’s been sprayed a few times to cover up the bruises. The front bumper is secure, but if you look closely, it’s slightly askew. That’s left over from when an old man T-boned the passenger’s front quarter panel. She’s been punched in the gut by shopping carts and side-swiped by careless drivers but she rides on like a champion.
You know that soft whistle-y sound when the aura enters the room in the Twilight Zone? I hear that coming from under the hood. Those sounds are helping me secure my future as I’m aggressively working towards an early retirement.
Of all the things we buy, our car is the most personal and sensitive. Next to a house, it’s also the most expensive. And people love to judge, right? We are all judged on what we drive. Some will even determine if you are a good match for your car. Like, “What’s that old geezer doing driving a Corvette? There should be a hot guy in the driver’s seat.” Gotta love the American way.