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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