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THE BEST is YET to COME

new-yearAnother year is upon us! Time to review the past year and to celebrate a new beginning.

Look back over the past year, take a moment to reflect on the moments that meant the most to you and to sift through the hard times to determine how to navigate 2016 more efficiently.

Open your heart and mind to this new year. There are so many opportunities and new experiences ahead even though the future is unknown. This nebulous new year will soon become a new chapter in the fabric of life. While it feels uncertain, resetting your personal and financial GPS brings you a plethora of positive possibilities. Remember, even your best friends were once strangers.

Today is a good time to purchase a journal for planting new ideas, setting a few goals and documenting the journey this next year. While anticipation for the “new year” is exciting, it is easy to think a change will come overnight, and even easier to get disillusioned when goals seem elusive, and more time is needed to achieve goals you desire. Be honest with yourself when setting new goals. And be compassionate with yourself as revisions are made over time.

Embrace yourself! Open your eyes to fresh opportunities. Write down your dreams and add a deadline. Create your blueprint for 2016 and then follow up each and every day with small steps toward your most important goals. Build a life of proactive abundance, using conscious choices that result in a wealth of life, love and having “more than enough!”

Here’s to a bountiful and intentional life in 2016!
Bob

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Christmas Shopping Savvy

3x3 ChristmasYou are scrambling to get your last minute shopping done, or you may have received some gift cards and now you are in a mad dash to get it all done. The stores are offering huge discounts and it is easy to blow your budget! Remember to bring your friends, “a budget and a list.” Having a clear sense of what you want to purchase and sticking to your plan will keep you on track. Finding the perfect present for family and friends shouldn’t cause you emotional and financial pain in January.

Plan your purchases ahead of time and you will save yourself from extra bills and hidden costs. Prioritize your list and set an amount for each person. Be honest with yourself. What do you REALLY want or need to buy? What are you REALLY going to spend? Invest time to find coupons, comparison shop online and maybe add an app like Red Laser to your phone. You can then “price match” items in your hand by comparing prices at other retails outlets & most retailers will match the lowest price.

Bring a calculator and add up your items before you get to the cash register. You may be shocked at the total and can swap out a few items or select what is most important BEFORE you are standing at the register with a credit card in hand. Another trick is to take cash. When you hand over the money you took out of your wallet, there is a much more tangible feel to the purchase. Zipping the credit card along the side of the machine is like pushing a button on a slot machine; so quick and simple – no pain at all – until later, when you have no money left and have incurred some major debt.

Just because an item is on sale doesn’t mean it is the best value. Spending $3,000 on a new TV because it was such a deal doesn’t save you money. One way to take advantage of sales is to buy ahead for next year when everything is half-price. Buying disposable items out of season at half-price, knowing you will be wrapping presents next year makes great sense.

Remember to keep it simple and not get carried away with extravagant expectations. Keep it real and the true Christmas spirit will shine through.

Have an abundant week!

Bob

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CHRISTMAS “TIME”

3x3 Gifts of timeChoosing to make conscious choices for your money and life may have implications in many aspects of your life. Set aside some quiet time this December and create a mental space to listen to your thoughts. Decide how to spend your holiday season, using your goals to give you focus.

What would your “perfect” holiday look like? Maybe it includes parties with friends, spending time with family, or taking time to express your gratitude. This is such a hectic time of year. Many people feel overwhelmed by obligations presented by school, work, family and friends. Invest your time in activities that bring you the most value.

Choose which activities you will spend your time on and know that you may miss some parties or invites. Setting boundaries for a successful holiday helps you maintain your sanity, increase your sense of gratefulness and keep your “spirits bright!”

Take that one step further and spend time with those closest to you this month. Listen to your spouse, best friend or family members and notice what is important to them. Investing time with people who are special in your life strengthens your bond with them, creating more meaningful relationships.

When shopping, instead of buying four gifts for each person, purchase one item and plan an experience to accompany the gift. Purchasing clothes? Plan a date night to enjoy the new outfit. Have a friend who loves to cook? Wrap up a new piece of cooking equipment and sign up for a cooking class together. Give a gift of time to complete the gift in a box! Many people find investing in others reaps greater benefits in the journey of life.

Share some of the activities that your family or circle of friends love to do — and make the holidays extra special every year.

~ Bob

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DASHING Through DECEMBER

3x3 Dashing to DecKeep it real!

You survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday and now you have the rest of your Christmas shopping to do. Amid holiday parties, family gatherings and business obligations, it’s time for many of you to begin annual holiday shopping, too!

The National Retail Federation’s latest survey finds that holiday shoppers plan to spend an average of $463 on family members, up from $458 last year and the highest in survey history. Average spending per person is expected to reach $805, with more than half of shoppers planning to splurge on non-gift items for themselves. And if you use credit cards, be prepared to go over budget by 25%.

Many people get emotional about selecting gifts for family members and loved ones. The desire to get the very best present is often in direct conflict with the reality of keeping your budget on target. Going overboard for Christmas and beginning 2016 in debt is not your best course of action.

Here at The Money Nerve, we believe that positive and intentional choices allow you to be deliberate about your spending during the holidays and beyond. Take a moment and examine some of the holiday emotions that may pop up out unexpectedly!  Are you trying to “buy” love or attention? Is there family competition regarding who bought or received the “best” gift? Do you feel the need to purchase a gift for every person you know?

Stop. Think about your long-term goals for your life and how you want to recognize or honor the special people in your life. Be thoughtful. Attaching a personal, heartfelt message with a small present can be the greatest gift of all. Spread holiday cheer on a personal level. This is a season based on love and sharing. – Reconnect with the people who are most important to you.

Enjoy the holiday, the shopping and the people! See if these five tips help you navigate the holidays and make it easier on your wallet:

1. Benjamin Franklin said it best, “The early bird gets the worm.” So begin saving for next year’s holidays in January. Set aside $25-$75 per month. Use cash whenever possible.

2. Set your budget. If you traditionally tip a babysitter, a dog walker or special people who provide personal services at the end of the year, be sure to add that to your budget.

3. Make a gift list. List the amount you want to spend on family and friends and stick to it. If you bought gifts early, pull them out to wrap. I have friends who forgot they purchased gifts early, put the gifts in a safe place, and then found the items after the holiday season.

4. Find deals. Read those Sunday ads and use apps like RedLaser to price match items. You want to be sure you get the best price on your purchases.

5. It’s not the size of the gift, it is the thought behind it. You can give small “stocking stuffers” to colleagues: $5 Starbucks cards, a mini-bottle of Champagne, homebaked cookies, or a chance to win the lottery with a $2 Scratch off card. There are many small and fun ways to show people you care!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah and more!

Bob

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PASSING THE TORCH with ABUNDANT GIVING

Abundance is more than enoughChanging your “mental map” or mindset can create wealth in your life.

Living an abundant life is a proactive attitude to seek out what is important to you and strive to create a purposeful life. There is more to life than sitting at the computer every day and then sitting on the couch passively watching other people’s lives. You shape your world by how you choose to take action on the circumstances thrown your way. Decide if you want to allow others’ actions to ignite your anger or feelingsor if you would like to make intentional choices for a more positive outcome.

Give to others with a generous spirit: When you give time or money to others, you are implying that goodness is there for all. The positive energy from an intentional gift “without strings” will open your heart and mind to the abundance of your life. Intentionally put $2 in your pocket to have on hand to help others, or use the next few weeks to “pay it forward” for someone else, just because you can.

Find the goodness in people and enjoy the richness of life. With all the tragedy we have witnessed in the past few months, it seems like covering our ears, bolting our doors and making our world smaller is the best course of action – but that action could be counter-intuitive. Look for the goodness in others, have empathy for those in need, and find a way to forgive those around you for past hurts. Forgiving is another way to pay it forward.

As we move into the holidays, find time to share your vision of happiness, peace and thankfulness. More money and material possessions will not make you happy. Peace and happiness come from within. When you share your peace and love with others, you add worth to others, honor their spirit and that action makes the world a better place for all.

Have a great week

Bob

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CELEBRATING UNSUNG HEROES

The Money Nerve Unsung HeroDo you know an “unsung hero?” Someone who does good things for others without asking for praise or recognition? Often these are people who have made “things” happen or quietly prove that one person can make a difference for many.

There are many facets in life, love, finances, work, and play. As you build a life of conscious choice, you may want to incorporate an intentional celebration of the unsung heroes in your life. Or you may decide that you want to make a difference by adding your efforts to make the world a better place.

Take a moment to personally thank one of the people in your life who make a difference for you or for others. Maybe it’s a teacher, policeman, nurse or doctor, or a family member who is taking care of a loved one. Recognize the effort and impact that one person can make in the lives of others.

Here are a few ideas for showing your appreciation:

  • Give a sincere compliment to a colleague without expectations.
  • Send a thank-you note to a person you have noticed whose actions benefit others.
  • Give blood to help heal others who might be in bad health.
  • If you see a veteran dining in a restaurant, discreetly pay for his or her dinner and ask the server to tell simply say, “America thanks you.”
  • Donate to a cause one of your friends or family members is deeply involved with and let them know you appreciate their time.
  • Post a message on social media “shining a spotlight on and thanking” a person you feel is making a difference.
  • Host a lunch and honor the support team members whose work often goes unrecognized.

Discover and celebrate the heroes in your life!

~Bob

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AN ATITTUDE of GRATEFULNESS

3x3 template copyGratefulness – also defined as being thankful, appreciative or gratitude – can be a powerful tool for living a meaningful life.

Psychology Today states, “Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has – as opposed to, for example, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants. Gratitude is getting a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology: Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, gratefulness – and especially expression of it to others – is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.

Take a moment each day to express gratitude for the goodness in your life. Some people like to begin their day with a meditation or short mantra expressing thanks. This is a positive action to begin each day and set the tone for the rest of the day. It helps you look for the best resolution as the day unfolds.

Others prefer to document the activities and the goodness of the day as a nightly ritual. Being thankful for all the moments and people in our daily life can change our intentions. One can learn to flip frustrations or challenges to create new opportunities for choosing what is important to us over time.

As the holiday season approaches, many celebrate thankfulness and a bountiful life, but as the good china is put up, keeping an attitude of gratitude throughout the year can relieve stress and generate a more optimistic view. A mindset of cultivating kindness can often have positive repercussions that we can’t even imagine. Much like a small pebble thrown into a pond, the ripples of thankfulness and kindness can have a huge impact on many people, some of whom you may never meet!

By focusing on the good, you retrain your brain to look for abundance, rather than dwelling on the lack of “things.” Scientific studies are demonstrating that fear and negativity increase cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormones and narrow your perspective because you perceive danger in your life. Developing a positive mindset increases the mood neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine), in your body. It also encourages people to “broaden and build” life skills, actively seek new opportunities, and utilize small successes to achieve a more abundant and meaningful life.

In gratitude ~ Bob

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Facing Financial Fears

The Money Nerve

83% of Americans have at least one financial fear that keeps them up at night. And not surprising, almost a third worry about retirement and healthcare costs. Most people would rather ignore their nagging concerns and continue suffering in a familiar pattern rather than facing their fear and making a change.

Where are you really?

You can’t get to your ultimate destination if you don’t know your starting point.

The first key to alleviating your fear is to be honest. The more accurate the assessment, the more secure you will be in your position. You might be frustrated, but you will be aware of your financial truth and knowing where the breakdown occurs allows you to fix some of those issues.

Turn your insecurity around:

• Evaluate your social circle.
• Surround yourself with supportive friends.
• Budget truthfully so you know your financial position.

Review your income and expenses, explore where you spend your time and track down hidden costs. When you do these things, it is crucial to be honest with yourself. What do you actually earn? What do you really spend? What do you pretend is not relevant to your budget?

Most people “round up” on their income and “round down” on their expenses. If you want to get ahead and be financially successful, always lower your income estimates and raise your expense estimates. This trick will help give you a cushion for the realities of your inflows and outflows of cash.

The best way to face your financial fears is to create a budget. Having guidelines can bring comfort and structure to your plan. Start small & build your financial muscle over time. Do you have a savings account? Try to put a small percentage or dollar amount with each paycheck. If you get a raise, continue to live on the former salary & put the increase in the bank. That is a painless and highly effective more to build your wealth.

Check some of the tools we have placed HERE to help you jumpstart smart financial choices.

Don’t be scared ~ Be proactive!

Bob

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Focus on Your Future

the money nerve

Have you ever heard Aesop’s fable about the grasshopper and the ant?

The grasshopper loved hopping about and singing during the warm summer. One day he saw an ant working hard to move an ear of corn and cried out, “Why in the world are you collecting food on this bright and beautiful day? Stay and play with me!” The ant shook his head and said, “I am saving this for the cold winter, and you should do the same.” The grasshopper laughed and went off to play but perished during cold weather. The moral of the story: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

The story seems harsh, and many people wish for a fairy tale ending where others solve all of our financial dreams (i.e., winning the lottery, getting an inheritance, marrying a rich spouse). In 1934, Disney created the delightful film short “The Grasshopper and the Ants” where the Ant Queen and her colony felt pity for the grasshopper and took him in during the winter. Have you ever seen the video? Check it out below.

Sometimes a project or goal seems so far away that it is easy to procrastinate. There is so much time left and we get bogged down in our busy-ness, that daily decisions feel more urgent and important than long-term investments in life.

Reality check: It’s your life; it’s your money! How are your plans for retirement going? Do you have savings for a rainy day? Life happens – when you least expect it.

Saving and spending are part of living a life of abundance. Let’s change the words being used from short-term desires like “I need those shoes” to some long-term goals such as, “I am making better choices with my money, to maintain my lifestyle when I get older.” As you discover the best balance between living for today like the grasshopper and stashing some wealth like the ant, you will come to realize that both are investments in yourself.

Ignoring regular maintenance on your car because you don’t want to spend the money can result in major car expenses down the line. In the same way, poor spending or saving habits may also result in a later retirement and fewer choices down the road. What should you do?

Here are three easy ways to get started:
1. Take the quarterly plan you created last week and imagine retirement is a “big purchase” like a house.
2. Determine the price of this long-term goal (the amount of money needed) with this calculator.
3. Tweak your quarterly plan (budget) to begin investing toward your targeted “quality of life” in your later years. You will be glad you decided to invest in yourself!