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Honest Assessment

Growing Your Money

More month than money? It happens to the best of us!

Our outflow of money surpasses the inflow of income.

Fortunately, there is a way to take action. To get an honest assessment of your situation, you can make a list of all the money coming in and going out. Once you know the reality of your current lifestyle, you can change it. No judgment, no self blame.

Look at your paycheck. You must create a budget based on the figure that is actually deposited in the bank. If you base your plan on $1,000 per week when your take-home pay is really $750, you aren’t being fair to yourself and will always go over your budget!

Now you have jotted down all the numbers. Surprised? Now is the time to be honest and take action.

The next step is the tricky one. Write down ALL the things you spend your money on. EVERYTHING! Don’t be bashful. If it’s embarrassing, list it as personal or give it a “code name.”

See if you are saving any money. If you have no savings plan, create a small savings habit. Set it up as an automatic draft or debit from your checking account into a savings account. This will help you create a new habit and learn to pay yourself consistently.  Explore what saving is all about. It is not a punishment or a painful experience. It is simply a gift to yourself and your future. It is exciting to see how a strong foundation of saving quickly grows into a substantial investment. Save first and then spend your extra dollars.

If you totaled up all the income you would make in your lifetime, it will easily add up to over a million dollars. Wow! Who knew? Invest in yourself – you can do it!

Bob

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Know Your Value

I am valuable

What value do you place on financial freedom? If you place a high value on being debt-free and are consciously choosing how to manage your finances, you can start to mentally “pay yourself.”

Reward yourself for taking the time to map out your plan.

By questioning and evaluating your process of handling money, you can turn off the autopilot mode you were in and begin to explore new options. Navigating this new course may feel strange and uncomfortable at first. Stick with this action plan; you’ll develop new habits to support your dreams, and very quickly, this new lifestyle will become second nature to you.

Find the value in yourself, your relationships and your financial future. If you track your progress, you will see a series of small successful steps – all pointing toward your goals. If you find there are areas where you need help, enlist the guidance of a friend, colleague or family member who can be a champion. For example, if you are not sure how to start saving for retirement or need help setting markers for that big goal, a champion or a mentor can be valuable helping you navigate new territory and get you on the right track.

Explore your value in the workplace as well. Ask yourself, “Do I do everything possible in my position to demonstrate my value?” Determine what level of compensation others in your industry and at your level receive. Is there an industry standard of pay and is there a documented skill level or list of job descriptions you can use to compare with your current position?

You may find that you are under-valued at work and need to share what you contribute each day with your upper management. Do you have advanced skills? Have you taken extra training classes? Worked on special projects? Make a list of what makes you a more valuable employee and ask to be compensated. There are many people who wait for someone to recognize them or offer them a raise. If you ask for higher compensation, you have a better chance of boosting your wages. Ask and you may get it! You really have nothing to lose.

After making industry comparisons, you may also find that you need to update skills or invest in yourself. Take the initiative to make yourself more valuable. Conversely, you may find that it is time to move on.

Exploring, calculating and defining your value gives you the power to control your options. Whether you stay, change jobs, get more education or work harder to be the best at your current position, you have empowered yourself by knowing your value. Now you are better able to choose the best life for you and your family.

Here’s to a life of value!

Bob

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Tools For Success

3x3 Financial Toolbox

Last week we investigated your personal definition of success and this week I would like to give you a tool to assist you with defining how your money ebbs and flows.

Watch: A true story, finding an solution for a successful outcome! 

Once you know where your money comes from and where it goes, you can take steps to change the flow if needed. You may find that your current spending habits keep you from getting ahead.

It took me a year to eliminate a kickboxing gym membership!

I wanted to be able to kick butt, but the fees were the only thing kicking butt. I didn’t even have time to go to the classes. I held on to the membership because I wanted to envision myself as an active kickboxer. I spent over a hundred dollars per month to pretend I was Jean Claude Van Damme. The only weight some people lose by having a gym membership is the money weight they lose from their wallet each month.

Now that you are aware of your Money Nerve, you can begin to assess which expenses really serve to feed your financial growth—and which expenses really starve your financial future.

ASSESS YOUR BUDGET

1. What are some of your beliefs that block financial success?

2. Write the following at the top of your weekly budget: “I am going to list all my money, in and out, for the week of April 24- May 1. I will be completely honest and without judgment.” Lay out Income and Expenses side by side.

3. Make two columns:       Income             Expenses

Make a list of the income & expenses under each title

4. After you lay out your budget, determine whether the final amount you have is an accurate representation of your cash on hand at the end of that week. How does it look?

5. Determine which expenses you can cut.

6. Begin to analyze the income side of your budgeting and find possible adjustments.

7. Write down the steps you will take to begin building an emergency fund.

8. Have a contingency plan in place.

Write it here.

9. Continue writing in your daily journal.

Download a PDF of the Budget Worksheet here:

Remember, you are taking a snapshot of the money flow. No guilt, no blame, just an assessment of your money. You can take back the power to make new or different money choices to create the life you really desire!

Best of luck & if you have questions, just follow me on Twitter and ask! @themoneynerve

~ Bob

 

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Timeline For Success

Appearance of Success

Thirty years ago, success may have been defined as working at one company for a lifetime and being a loyal worker. I believe that today success can be found in the idea of increasing personal viability – searching for opportunities that allow you to grow within an organization, seeking new ventures and being open to emerging fields.

You have reviewed your inner dialogue and you are ready to define your concept of success. What steps do you need to take to fulfill your goals? Be prepared, there will probably be some frustrating moments.

Take a moment to assess your talents, your time and your budget. The more honest you are in assessing your current situation, the more secure you will be in moving forward on your path.

To turn around feelings of insecurity:
• Evaluate your social circle
• Surround yourself with like-minded people who support you
• Budget truthfully to know your current financial position

Your choices and accomplishments have gotten you exactly where you are today. This is where you wanted to be! Every decision you have made has led you to this place. If this is a shock and your “real life” doesn’t synch with what you say you want – this might be the very best day to formulate a fresh plan.

This is your personal space to make some Money Magic appear. You control the numbers and you define how and where you want to divert your money. Don’t let the media, advertisers, family or friends tell you what YOU want. Declare what is most important to you and create a roadmap to execute the outcome.

Take this moment to acknowledge:
“I am passionate about ________ and my goal is to someday _________!”

You will find that your timeline for success is built one day at a time as you execute small successful goals. Achieving goals consistently enables you to build a meaningful and prosperous life in your own time, even when roadblocks and detours pop up along the way!

Overall, you will be charting your own course with thoughtful intention. Your budget ebbs and flows as you invest in your future; planting seeds and making conscious choices to purchasing a home or taking that big trip; as you harvest the rewards. Living an abundant life becomes a way of life, not just a one-time destination.

Let your journey begin!
~Bob

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Visualize Success

Key to success

You know you want “more” in your life! In order to get that, you need to make changes in how you manage your choices to bring new results. Not always knowing what those changes will be or how they will affect you can be uncomfortable. It is quite possible to want financial success and still be afraid of going after it and achieving it.

You may feel like you do not have all the right tools – you may not be confident that you can handle money, make a budget or manage your assets. Many people feel this way! Here’s a thought: just being rich is not a destination.

 

SUCCESS consists of three things:
• Know what is available to you
• Know what you want
• Know what the next step is once you are successful

Success is not a destination. Each of us has our unique perspective and vision of what success means to us. What is your image of success? Can you visualize yourself in a prosperous place in life? Define what is most important to you for the next year. If you can see it, you stand a much better chance of creating it.

Some people value a good steady job as a sign of success; others may value more time with family, a big annual vacation, a new car for their spouse or saving to purchase a home. As you state what is important, you will be more aware of your daily activities and begin to focus your attention on actions that will make your goals materialize. 

Pursuing a new path toward financial success can create unexpected reactions and results: you may get some pushback from friends, coworkers or family members. That is okay! You are not staying in the same comfortable path. You are evolving toward a new direction, and that can make others uneasy.

You may also have some old habits or thoughts that pop up; these emotional reactions (roadblocks) that pinch your money nerve will test you. Don’t worry, these barriers are temporary. Think of them as new opportunities to stay focused on your goals. There is usually a detour to get you where you want to go.

As you become aware of what pinches your money nerve, you may need to develop contingency plans to stay on your path. Others could attempt to derail you or mold you back into the person they want you to be. With a sharp long-term focus, other people’s opinions have less power, you have the ability to be more “in the moment” in your daily life and can be more flexible as new possibilities arise.

Having a clear vision of what is important and keeping your focus on that goal often leads to strategic decisions, more doors opening, and a mindset of financial freedom based on conscious choices. Harness that positive energy. You will discover that the positive energy of your life increases and rebounds back to you, manifesting a more abundant life.

I hope your week is rewarding and full of confident energy!

Bob

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Start A Journal

As you identify where your “Money Nerve” is being pinched and start finding new avenues for change, one of the best ways to track your progress is to start a journal. A journal gives you a good sense of where you are and it will assist you to focus on goals for the future.

Sometimes a journey or a goal can comprise six, eight, or ten steps – and they are not always visible at first. We tend to make judgments based on a snapshot of our life. We may not take into consideration our past history or the full potential for our future.

Stop thinking that you are only as much as can be seen in a snapshot. You are not limited to the current state of your life. Think about your ambition, dreams, luck, or love. You are so much more than your current situation. You’re ready to change when you realize that you’re not comfortable with your current reality.

Allow yourself to dream boldly! As you begin taking action based on your journal notes, you may find it’s easier to reach big dreams with smaller, more manageable steps. Reward yourself for each small success; you’ll find it’s easier to stay energized and focused on your long-term goals.

By investing a few moments of your time in the physical act of thinking and doing, you give yourself a powerful tool to initiate change. You may have jotted down a few dreams last week. Now let’s take a few moments to ask some questions.

These questions and your answers will jumpstart your action plan.
1. What do you secretly feel about money? About rich people? Can you envision yourself with wealth?
2. Write down three things (particular words or statements) you have said about money, your budget or some of your purchases in the last week.
3. Do you still hold the same beliefs about money that you did as a child? Are these your beliefs or your parents’ beliefs?
4. Do these beliefs about money still hold true for you?
5. How would you describe to your 20-year-old self what “the truth about money” is today?

Create a journal to start recording your thoughts, obstacles you hit and what successes (large or small) you achieve each week. You can purchase a spiral notebook or a leather-bound journal – it doesn’t matter. Choose whatever motivates you to chronicle your thoughts and help you define your goals.

Your journal becomes your roadmap for an abundant life!
Have a great week – Bob

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The Benefits of Financial Freedom

We have all heard the phrase, “Time is money.” Many people equate that strictly with the idea of making more money. Let’s take another look at this simple phrase.

Think about balancing your time and money for the optimal benefits to you. Aim to achieve the goals that are the most valuable to you. Applying this integrated view may open up some new options you had not thought of before.

Grab a notepad and jot down your schedule for the next day or for the upcoming week. Think about the time you have and the finances you have and determine whether these two things are moving you forward the way you would like.

Think about some of the dreams you hold and start using your time and money to make the dreams a reality.

Where do you want to be in one year or five years? Would you like to be free of credit card debt? Do you want to travel the world? Would you like to have a set amount for retirement? How can you change some of your habits to move the resources you have to make these dreams part of your overall plan?

Can you make time to get a second job or to invest in yourself with additional education to stay valuable? Do you need to adjust your work schedule to make time for family activities and obligations of parenthood? Can you set aside money today for a better life tomorrow? Do you really need to pay a monthly fee for a storage unit as a “vacation home” for all your extra stuff?

This process is all about finding the balance and value that makes YOUR life meaningful. And the most powerful part of this exercise is that you choose and you implement – it is your choice!

As you decide what you really want, write it down. Project a time frame and you have a goal.

You have now set intentions for what you value most in your life. Quiet all the negative voices or thoughts in your head. Use this plan to start making change.

Will you get there instantly? Probably not.

Will you have to make changes or readjust your plan? Probably so – life happens!

Take 15 minutes right now and think about your goals.

Here’s a great quote from the Dalai Lama to get started: “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so TODAY is the right time to love, believe and mostly live.”

Being intentional and being in the moment are beneficial tools for creating value and living an abundant life. Be present this week and live fully!

Bob

 

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Choose Your Direction

3x3 You Hold the Power

It is easy to fall into a rut and live your life with the same thoughts repeatedly circling in your brain, mindlessly traveling through life without thinking about what you are saying. Maybe it is time to explore whether your words and actions regarding your finances still ring true.

Are you comfortable with the old story you tell – or is it time to intentionally listen, analyze and make changes in your vocabulary?

You may say, “I’m broke; I never seem to get ahead.”

Maybe you can investigate a new way of thinking and begin to say, “I’m broke; I wonder why I always feel that way.”

Without blaming yourself, you can possibly change the intent by stating what is really happening with your decisions. One option is a statement like this: “I’m broke because I chose not to save any money this week.”

This gives you the opportunity to be curious, note your actions and think about what other choices you’d prefer to make. Hmm….”I am curious to see how and where I am spending my money. I’d like to find ways to shift some of my dollars this week toward my dreams.”

So instead of repeating, “I’m broke”…

How about: “I am going to make positive choices with my money. I want to consciously decide where I want my income to go, instead of drifting with old habits and being unhappy at the end of the month.”

Take back your power to choose. Envision what you want to spend your money on and state how you might make some changes.

For example, if you like having nice clothes and the trendiest shoes, but have no money in the bank and are ready to make a change – you can begin to choose a new way of talking to yourself.

Try this on for size: “I want nice clothes and I want money in the bank. I will choose to wait and buy the shoes when they go on sale and will put the difference in price in the bank.” Or maybe you decide, “I like nice clothes and I have trouble telling myself no, so I will put $25 in the bank each week before I go to the mall!”

Now you are choosing to say “yes!”

Yes to change.

Yes to new possibilities

Yes to conscious choices! That’s a great way to be “stepping-out!”

May you bring conscious change to your life this week-

Bob

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Small Steps lead to Success

When you set your financial GPS, you choose your final destination. Next, you have to decide how to get there.

Just imagine… you are driving from California to Maryland with your spouse, your four kids, a poodle and a hamster… can you imagine taking that trip without any stops? While it would be possible, it’s highly probable that your family may lose some of its sanity along the way. You are going to need to break your trip into smaller steps.

You would probably check the map and figure out how many days you can drive for eight hours. You’d plan enough time for meals and extra stops, and you’d have a rough estimate of how long the trip will take and how much it may cost. These projections guide you directly to your target.

Fast forward to your financial goals: You want to save $20,000 for a down payment on a house or condo. Break that big sum into more manageable “mini-goals” and calculate what you can realistically put away each week or each month. Determine how long it will take to set aside that amount. By going from A to B and C to D, you will “go the distance” from A to Z with more assurance.

Each time you reach your weekly goal, the balance gets higher. I have had clients that got so excited; they devised ingenious ways to save more money once they saw the benefits of working their plan. It’s exciting to help others build upon each success and see them reach their goals.

Winning the small battles makes it easier to win the big ones. Winning is a habit that everyone can master. The dynamic nature of our mental strength flips a dream into a new reality. As you determine a new financial target, think about where you are right now. Here are a few exercises for you to explore your perceptions about money.

A) Listen to yourself speak about money this next week. Write down what you said. Is it true? Is it time to make some changes?
B) Identify where you are financially right now.
C) What are your core beliefs about money – and do those still work for you?

There’s no need to be perfect, and we all have to make adjustments along the way – that will always be part the journey. Let me know if any of this resonates with you. I would love to hear your story.

Hope that helps!

Bob

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The Power of Words

As I mentioned last week, a mental map is a visualization of a goal you want to reach. Once you have established your mental map, one of the best ways to stay on target is to change the way you speak, especially to yourself!

Your words have the power to change your point of view. I know, it sounds a little crazy, but you will be amazed at the difference you can make by choosing your words.

Consciously develop a new habit to talk about your life in a more proactive manner. One great example is to substitute the word “but” with the word “and.” So instead of saying, “I really want to save, but I don’t make enough money,” try this: “I want to save more money and maybe if I eat lunch out one less day a week, I can save $60 each month for a vacation.”

What a simple change! As your thoughts change, strong positive words become a statement to live by and influence your actions. You have now given yourself permission to make more conscious decisions. Today is the time to change your world.

Here’s to an abundant life!
Bob