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GO the DISTANCE

Change your mindsetAsk yourself where you would like to be in one year or five years. Would you like to be free of credit card debt? Would you like to have traveled the world? Would you like to have put away money in a retirement account? Would you like to change your spending habits? Would you like to see 50,000 dollars in savings?

Once you know where you would like to be, state your goal. A year from now, I’d like to stop using credit cards. In five years, I’d like to be credit card debt free. A year from now, I want to go to school for additional training. In five years, I’d like to be in another career or own my own company.

Quiet the censor in your mind and just let your imagination travel where it likes. After allowing yourself this quiet time every day, you may be surprised to see where your imagination takes you! Take advantage of planning ahead then every three months or so, sit down and adjust your budget. You can still get to where you want to go, you are just allowing yourself to keep it real and tweak the plan, as needed.

Finances will always be a part of your life—not something you can ever move past. Confront your financial fears and set aside an hour per week to update your records. If you use computer software, download your bank statement and expenses. Balance your checkbook. Keeping up with your money each week for a small amount of time will help you stay on track for your bigger goals.

Make an effort to spend responsibly. Make a list of all bills you get each month, and then check them off your list as you pay them. That way, if you didn’t receive a bill, you still realize it has to be paid. Spreadsheets are a great way to keep track of expenditures. Once a year, list your assets and debts to get a sense of your net worth. Now you have a true road map of where you have been and can move more efficiently toward your current financial destination!

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OVERWHELMED?

3x3 Nepal Mt Everest basecampIt’s important to consider the pace you set to achieve your financial goals. If you set an unrealistic pace, you’re more likely to become overwhelmed or discouraged.

When I first arrived at Lukla, Nepal and prepared to make my ascent to Mount Everest Base Camp, the goal was ten days and over nine thousand vertical feet away.

I would have been kidding myself to think it could be done all at once!

Initially, the plan was to climb about one thousand feet in altitude, acclimate, and continue to the top incrementally. The first couple of days were pretty extreme. The thought of hiking ten hours per day over a challenging, seemingly endless path was overwhelming. My group began to convince itself that it was too difficult and considered turning back.

I wasn’t having it. I set my watch so that we would only focus on hiking for one hour with a water break at thirty minutes. We would not even talk about an eight-hour hike or what the rest of the day looked like. We wouldn’t talk about what “ifs” (for example: What if it gets dark? What if something terrible happens to us?). Everyone agreed to hike for only one hour and focus only on that one-hour!

Once we had gotten a few one-hour hikes under our belts with water breaks on the half hour, the group members stopped needing to take a break every thirty minutes. They felt they could easily continue, and they wanted to keep hiking for longer chunks of time. I remember one day specifically when the peak seemed miles and miles away. Because of our false perception, it appeared unreachable. So I set my watch for an hour, and we started hiking. Within forty-five minutes, we had arrived. The destination was actually closer than we realized.

In the same way, financial security may seem like it is unattainable, but you may simply be in need of a little perspective. The cure for being financially overwhelmed is persistence and knowledge. A robust savings account is achieved one step at a time. Put away ten dollars per paycheck knowing that, over time, that will add up to a large sum. In that way, you can create a new habit.You are often closer to success than you think you are!

If you have an area of finances that overwhelms you, surround yourself with books on the subject or go online to reputable sites. If you are more inclined to a discussion, try to find people who can provide strength in your area of weakness.

Financial stability may not happen overnight. By setting goals and starting the journey, you may find that you are only a short distance away from relief. Just put one foot in front of the other and get moving!

Turn your overwhelming feelings around:
• Persist.
• Know where you are and where you want to be.
• Learn the financial terrain.

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Build Your Dream Team

3x3 Being Financial PartnersMaking a plan for a rainy day is always prudent. Some examples might be stashing some money in a savings account, looking toward your retirement or setting aside a three-month supply of food so that you are covered in case of an emergency. Just don’t go overboard, and sacrifice living to the fullest in your present life for an unforeseeable future.

I think of my friend’s grandmother finding an envelope labeled Hawaii trip in her husband’s safe deposit box after he died. They never left mainland soil in his lifetime. He had plenty of money in the envelope; they had the time; he just waited too long to take action. His financial fears kept both of them from sharing unique and fulfilling experiences together.

Have you shared your dreams, your goals or even your credit score with your partner? Maybe it is time to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation about what is important to both of you. Make the time to explore how to make those dreams happen. You want to know what triggers stress in each other and be aware of emotions can trigger extreme reactions.

As you become more aware of your emotions and what triggers your Money Nerve, you will be able to be more understanding of your partner’s Money Nerve. You want to have a conversation with the goal of improving financial communication and a better understanding of the person you love. You may still get annoyed and even upset by the reactions of others— but know you have each other’s back to deal with your situation.

Many times, sharing your financial journey and goals with others can help keep you on track. Keeping a budget together with a common focus becomes fun with a partner because you can “team up” with one another to track receipts, and build a stronger portfolio. When you join forces, you can now plan on how and where to spend your cash, set goals for fulfilling each other’s dreams and laying the groundwork for a better future.

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TAKING STOCK – A FINANCIAL PICTURE

3x3 Credit ScoreJanuary is often a “holiday-hangover” month for many. February is a great time to take stock and move forward. This week, we will explore credit scores and reports and how they affect you.

What is a credit score and why is it important? Credit scores were initially set up as a way for large financial institutions to provide an algorithm for determining people’s credit worthiness. Most people have misconceptions about their credit and the credit scores. Credit scores are defined by a three digit number – although most Americans would prefer to see a grade: A, B, C, D and F for easier understanding.

• Excellent Credit: 750+
• Good Credit: 700-749
• Fair Credit: 650-699
• Poor Credit: 600-649
• Bad Credit: below 600

Will my credit go down if I keep checking it? How often should I check my credit reports or my score? No, checking your credit or applying to pre-approved offers will not impact your score. Multiple credit card inquiries or applying for a mortgage will show up as a “hard inquiry” and could lower your score a few points. You can check your credit every four months without repercussions, if you are monitoring to raise your numbers, but a good rule of thumb is to check it annually.

You can get your credit score free once a month at Credit.com.

Will my credit score affect getting a new job? No, when companies ask for permission to access your records, they are looking at your credit report to see your credit history.

How do I check my credit report?
You can review your full credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport.com, which provides you with a free credit report once a year from each of the three credit bureaus. You want to confirm that all the details are correct. If you find outstanding loans that do not belong to you or see that an account is listed as unpaid- when that account is in good standing; you can make corrections or stop any fraudulent activities. Another free website for checking your credit is Credit Karma.

How can I build my credit? Paying utility bills on time, open a savings account and take out a small, secured loan (using the amount you have in the bank). You repay that loan from your savings account. Be sure to set up automatic payments, so you are never late. You can also get a secured credit card that is tied to a set amount you have in savings.

Have a diverse financial path that includes paying bills on time, a car note and a credit card, on which you make weekly or monthly payments. Late payments will ruin your credit report and your score.

If you own three credit cards, only use 1 or 2 of them & keep the 3rd in reserve so that your % of debt stays low.

Being conscious of your “numbers” can provide you with the ability to see where you are NOW, helps you set your financial GPS to set new goals and to gives you the opportunity to make proactive decisions for an abundant life!