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Six Best Financial Goals to be Financially Smart 

The Money Nerve blog
Guest-blogger Patricia Sanders

Six Best Financial Goals

to be Financially Smart

2018 has already arrived. Now is the time for you to set some serious financial goals and chalk out the strategies for achieving your success.

Didn’t get any time to make a list of new financial goals for the year 2018?

Don’t worry. We have compiled a list of six best financial goals to be financially smart – that will help you to improve your wallet and your life in 2018!

1. Pay off your debts

Decide how much debt you wish to get rid of in 2018. The best option is to get out of debt completely. But it may not be possible depending on your income and debt amount. So set an amount you can pay off in 2018 with strategic planning. Figure out how much extra you want to put towards your debt every month and then try to reach it. You can follow a debt repayment plan to speed up your repayments. Smart investments help to accelerate your savings. Likewise, unpaid debts eat up your savings. Late fees, compounding interests, fines, finance charges, penalties, etc. increase your outstanding balance, and you end up paying more in the long run. So, make it your goal to get rid of debt in 2018.

2. Review your investment plans

Investments should be made with particular goals in mind. They should help you attain your financial goals in 2018. Have a look at where your investments are now and evaluate your progress.

Here are a few tips to review your investment plans:
(i) Calculate your actual return to know if you’re on the right financial track. Once you get the number, compare it to your expected return. Find out if you have made any financial progress in the last few years.
(ii) Compare each individual holding to a benchmark. This comparison would help you discover portions of your portfolio that need adjustment. Monitor those parts of your portfolio every month.
(iii) Analyze your overall asset allocation to identify the areas where you need to make changes. For instance, sell those investments that are not meeting your expectations. If you don’t have proper information or tools to review your investment mix, then it’s best to consult a qualified and experienced CPA financial adviser. He can make an in-depth analysis of your portfolio and help you make the required changes.

3. Stick to your budget every month

Budgeting is vital for proper allocation of funds and resources. It helps you know the amount designated for each expenditure line. A budget also assists you to determine the maximum amount to be spent on a particular item. If your goal is to invest in the stock market in 2018, then budgeting can help you a lot. Your budget gives you a better idea of how much you can invest or save in a particular month. Remember, if you can stick to your budget, then you’re financial goals will be reached more effectively.

4. Invest more in your retirement plans

Do you have a 401(k) plan? If not, open an account today. How much are you contributing to your 401(k) plan every month? Is it enough? Are you getting the maximum employer match? If not, then find out if there is a “catch up” opportunity this year. Increase your IRA contribution if you haven’t reached the maximum limit for the current financial year. Take full advantage of the new year’s opportunity for building your nest-egg.

5. Choose the right 529 plan

The right 529 plan can help to accelerate college savings. Research and choose the right 529 plan in 2018 by the following factors:

(i) State tax benefits
(ii) Investment choice
(iii) Fees and costs
(iv) How much you have to invest initially

A good way to kick-start your college savings is to invest a set amount each year. Consider the daily expenses you need to take care of and select a plan that has a minimum investment.

6. Create a long-term financial plan

Where do you see yourself after five years? Do you see yourself
living with your children in a nice house? Do you see yourself leading a peaceful life? The answers to these questions help you create a long-term financial plan.

Outline your timetable:
● When you’re planning to buy a new apartment
● When you’re planning to switch job
● When you’re planning for retirement
● How you’re planning to build wealth
● What type of investments you’re interested in
● How you’re planning to invest your money
● When your kids will go to college

A long-term financial plan can help you make the right financial decision not only in 2018 but also in the next few years. Try implementing these six best financial goals into your life. Note: Don’t compare your long-term financial plan with others since it won’t be beneficial for you. Your long-term financial plan will be different from your best friend’s, especially if he is married and you’re single. I hope you understand my point.

Summing It Up

Remember, you have to work hard and make plans to achieve your financial goals. Believe in yourself, set a strategic course of action, and start making positive changes using these six best financial goals to get your money matters organized. Best of luck! Patricia

About our Guest Blogger: Patricia Sanders is a financial writer and a blogger as well. She has been associated with DebtConsolidationCare for a long time. She writes regularly for wiki.debtcc.com on a variety of topics and also contributes valuable posts to different financial communities, blogs, and websites. Connect with Patricia on Facebook and Twitter.

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Build A Road To Financial Freedom

Road to Financial Freedom

Build A Road To Financial Freedom

Wish you were living on Easy Street, USA, with an incredible amount of money just earning interest? Here are some simple steps for you to build a road to financial freedom. Many of us long for enough money to pay the bills and then some! Unfortunately, a majority of us have more month than money and feel helpless when trying to manage our bills.

Embrace Your Story

To arrive at a new destination, you need to determine where you are today. No guilt, no accusations or remorse – just figure out where you are financially and use that as the basis for a new direction. Decide to make adjustments, making new or different choices that will empower you.

Set Simple Goals

Explore what things are most important to you. Use that information to begin building your road to financial success. Taking time to set priorities gives you the power to make smarter decisions with your money. If laziness, bad habits or emotional reactions currently drive your budget, you will be amazed how quickly proactive choices can boost your bank account!

Be Accountable

Write down your financial goals and give yourself a deadline. There are many paths to achieve your desires, and by mapping out a plan, you give yourself a higher percentage of hitting your target. When you know what bad habits or destructive emotions have sabotaged your efforts before – you can choose to try an alternate course of action. One of the benefits of having written goals is that they help you stay the course over time. This accountability is a key component for creating financial freedom.

Change Your Mindset

Using positive and powerful words to impact your actions. Stop telling yourself that you just can’t do it or that it’s too hard. Create new mental pathways with positive intentions such as, “I want to save money with each paycheck to purchase a home (car, vacation, etc.) and apply one action to that wish. You can set up an automatic deduction that routes $25 to your savings account.

Small Steps = Big Change

Making one little decision each day that leads you closer to one of your primary goals will reap enormous benefits over the course of one year! Saving $25 a week will earn you more than $1,000 within the year. And that will grow to $6,500 in just five years. One tiny step practiced consistently, can create lasting effects in your life. Check out the first chapter of The Money Nerve book ~ Make time to make a change TODAY!

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Intentional Gratitude Will Change Your Life

Intentional Gratitude

Intentional Gratitude Will

Change Your Life

Look for Opportunities to be Thankful

Intentional gratitude is searching and acknowledging a positive person, life experience or kind gesture each day. Do you look for opportunities to be thankful? Or do you rush through life unaware, pressured and unhappy? The action of being grateful, expressing your thanks can be a powerful tool for living a meaningful life. Studies show that we deliberately pursue an appreciation for the goodness in our lives, the result is an increase in our well-being and happiness. That my friend – is called intentional gratitude.

Science Supports the Happiness Factor

Scientific studies demonstrate that fear and negativity increase cortisol. This “fight or flight” hormone narrows your perspective because you perceive danger in your life. Developing a positive mindset increases the mood neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine), in your body.

Instead of dwelling on the lack of “things or other people’s successes,” focus on the goodness of your life, and you physically retrain your brain to look for abundance! Be aware. Open your mind to the possibilities in front of you. A positive mindset also encourages people to “broaden and build” life skills. Begin to actively seek new opportunities and utilize your small successes to achieve a more abundant and meaningful life.

Intentional gratitude can set the tone for the rest of the day. Some people like to begin their day with meditation or by murmuring words of gratefulness. Your thoughts direct your efforts, and a positive mental attitude often results in more beneficial outcomes for people at work or home, as the day unfolds.

Setting Intentions

You may prefer to reflect the best moments of your day in the evening. Write down your thoughts. Being thankful for all the people in our daily life helps us to set intentions in the future. Learn to flip frustrations or challenges to create new opportunities for choosing what matters in the long run.

Maintain Your Positive Vibes

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, many people focus on gift-giving, thankfulness, and an abundant life during this time. Try to keep that sense of choosing happiness and caring when the fine china is put up and the days grow long during the winter. Maintain an attitude of gratitude throughout the year, and you can relieve stress while generating a more optimistic view. Like a small pebble thrown into a pond, the ripples of goodwill you send out to others have a significant impact on many people, some of whom you may never meet!

Try it!

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Power Up for Positive Change

positive changePower Up for Positive Change!

Training Your Brain for a Successful Mental Shift

Each day, we are given a gift of time. You know that you have 24 hours in a day, so let’s break that down into minutes. There are 1,440 minutes each day to work, play, make a difference in your life and be the person you secretly want to be. You have ample time to power up for positive change!

In fact, it takes about the same amount of time to make an excuse for why you aren’t living the life you desire – as it does to make small positive actions that will become live-changing.

One of the best ways to begin making a mental shift is to quit fighting the old you; those emotionally charged childhood memories, unhealthy habits or self-sabotaging actions don’t serve you well. Divert your attention toward building the newer version of you; Begin to focus on WHERE you want to be and how you WANT to behave. Start right this minute.

Action changes things! Many times people find a new action creates a ripple in a different direction or portion of their life. Ride the energy toward positive change. You can train your mind to be more fit with daily decisions that will directly impact the result you want to achieve. Your goals will define your actions. Write down one goal to get started on the new you.

Here are three tools for creating a healthy mindset and mental attitude:

1) Be Grateful

Look for reasons to be grateful. Take time on a daily or weekly basis to write down why these events, people or experiences fulfilled you and made you thankful. The physical process of writing down your thoughts creates a real change in your brain.

2) Be Mindful

In essence, being mindful is to find or maintain a non-judgmental sense of attention to the present moment. Instead of becoming angry, emulating other’s negative energy or turning inward and focusing on emotions that can consume you, stop! Observe, be “in the moment” and explore all the details around you without relapsing into old habits or reliving emotional drama. When you dredge up old memories, the situation now becomes “all about you.”
Stephen Covey shared a moving story about a dad and his rowdy children on an NYC subway in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It is a fabulous insight into the effects of being mindful – which often results in a paradigm shift.

3) Fake it until you Become It

You can embark on a new adventure or career choice before you have achieved your vision of ultimate perfection. Don’t wait to lose ten pounds to attend a class reunion or feel you must have $500 in the bank before you look for a new job. Began to act the way you dream of being. As you make those subtle changes and actions each day, over time, you can become the person that you were dreaming of being. Just as Popeye boosted his power with spinach to be strong, you can power up for positive change and achieve your vision with intentional choices. Think about this famous Winston Churchill quote, “Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential.” Aim High! You might just make it!

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Spring Cleaning Your Finances to Make Life Easier

The Money Nerve

There is something refreshing about the advent of spring; it’s officially time for reviewing and renewing! This week, we take a look at spring cleaning your finances.

Ask, “WHY,” before spring cleaning your finances

Why do you budget, save, spend, insure, invest and plan the way that you do? Are you happy with how your finances are working for you? Write down some clear and definitive ideas to sweep away old habits and create a more satisfying result.

Review your budget

Balance all your bank accounts and take a second look your past six months of credit card charges to see if all adds up correctly and that there are no billing errors.

What??? You don’t have a budget. Today is a good day to write down your income and your expenses. With that knowledge, you can now plan and direct your dollars into more focused streams!

Set a few primary, short-term goals

For example, you could set a goal for paying off the credit card with the lowest balance. Set yourself up to hit your new objectives. As you achieve success with your smaller financial projects, you gain confidence to complete larger intentions! And that is a win-win for you and your wallet!

Clear Out the Clutter

Take a serious look at everything you own. Give deep thought to want you want to be most important in your life. Set up actions steps to turn that visual intention into reality. Too much stuff? Distill it down. It’s easier to take care of less. And you keep what is most valuable to you. Too many accounts to manage? Pare down to three accounts, now you have more money at each institution and have created more “klout” for yourself. Utilize direct deposit and automate a small percentage to savings each week.

Streamlining your efforts help to clear your mind, and allow you to focus on creating a proactive life. You will find that spring cleaning your finances, and stating goals result in intentional living.

Find more #moneynerve tips – Enjoy this new vodcast: Funny Money Talks!

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Being Honest

take-an-honest-lookBeing Honest
It is challenging for many people to discuss feelings of financial fear without a sense of shame. Behind closed doors, people may open up about their feelings and embarrassment and be honest about their current financial situation. By voicing their fears or shame, many people feel as though a weight has been lifted and can then take stock of where they are; to formulate a plan to get financially fit.

Financial shame often comes from not living up to a particular ideal. It may be a false expectation or a false belief. The banker “tells” you that you can afford the monthly payment for a brand new home. The car dealership points out that you can purchase a new car and keep your payments the same. Ads on television “sell” us a dream: we deserve to have all the “things” we want now. You may believe you should own a big home, multiple cars and provide for all of your extended family, but perhaps you lost your job, and that is no longer possible. Many of us live with an illusion of the sort of person we should be (or what we should have) rather than being honest about our situation.

It is smart to have an accurate benchmark for what you consider to be a healthy financial goal or lifestyle. For example, you may want to have 500,000 dollars in your retirement savings account as your measure of being financially healthy. Not meeting that benchmark doesn’t mean you are a bad person. However, it may result in a different outcome. If you have 485,000 dollars in your savings account, don’t beat yourself up over the difference, but if you only have $45,000 saved for retirement when you turn 65, be prepared to live on a lot less than you are used to. You are delusional if you think you can postpone saving and live in better style than you do now.

Most people imagine that their retirement will be even better than their current situation and will live exactly as they do now — if not better! But the reality is that many of us have not saved enough money to make those dreams come true. Now is the time to keep feathering the nest. Make an appointment with your CPA or a financial coach who can help you assess your net worth and develop and a plan for staying financially fit. Creating an honest budget and reevaluating what is important long-term may change some of your choices today. Our current cultural and political mindset of deserving it all now and never stopping to say, “I can’t afford that,” isn’t doing you any favors. Set yourself apart, be honest with your money choices. You can do it. You can live abundantly for many years to come.

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SELF-MOTIVATION: find it!

3x3-self-motivation

Self-Motivation? What is it? Embrace it.

The dictionary states:
Self-motivation (noun): Initiative to undertake or continue a task or activity without another’s prodding or supervision.

What’s another word for initiative?  Ambition, Get-Up-and-Go, Enthusiasm, Resourcefulness, and Moxie!

Have you tried to make a change before and didn’t quite succeed? Every time you try again — you will get closer to your goal. Have you ever heard the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? It is a statement. No blame, no criticism – just a fact. Sometimes, big projects take more time than we think it will. There will be challenges. How can you stay self-motivated over time? Here are a few thoughts to help you find the best path.

Applying that same concept of “building” to yourself means no self-blame and no self-criticism when you begin a project and only make it 75% of the way. Each day presents the opportunity to start again with a fresh action or to use a more innovative way to hit your goals.

When faced with difficult or challenging decisions to make “things” better, most people freeze, become apathetic or just quit. The key to forging ahead is focusing on your key dreams, goals, and sense of what the future holds for you! Use “Baby Steps” to build your world.

When you don’t get what you want the first time; appeal to your inner self to try again.

Want to purchase a new home? Save for retirement? Plan an expensive vacation? What is your next step? Take time to think empowering, expansive thoughts, and make a list. Write it down. Use this personal checklist to knock out the smaller steps that lead to finishing what you started. Fake it until you become it and last: Make a deal with yourself and after you achieve 5 or 10 steps, reward yourself for sticking to it!

You can build that city of dreams into a reality – brick by brick with self-motivation.

My advice: Start Today!

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JOURNALING BUILDS INSIGHT and MINDFULNESS

3x3 Journaling Builds InsightHave you ever thought you needed a body double so you could get everything done? Maybe your thoughts and actions are too scattered. Starting a journal may help. Journaling builds insight and mindfulness. This simple tool is highly productive, only requiring paper and a pen. You will deepen your connection with what is most important to you when writing your thoughts on paper. You may find it easier to think about strategies, visualize a solution and create new pathways for creative thinking.

Sometimes the process of slowing down to reflect and review your thoughts results in a deeper capacity for innovation and more forward thinking. A person’s mind can have up to 60,000 thoughts during the day. Mobile devices push us to make even more teeny-tiny decisions each hour. When writing, most people can only process about one hundred words per minute, so any thoughts recorded on paper have a higher percentage of “sticking” or being remembered.

Journaling can be free form; it can be doodles that mean something to you or your thoughts can be directed toward a particular problem or challenge. Some people carry a journal with them at all times and jot down inspiring ideas as they pop up during the day. Others may end the day with 10 minutes of quiet, introspective thoughts. There is no wrong or right way; each person is unique. The primary challenge for many individuals is to be consistent. Giving yourself permission to take 5-30 minutes to sit quietly and put your thoughts in order sounds like a huge chunk of time for many, but when compared to the 24 hours given to us each day, it isn’t that much time at all!

Journaling builds insight into why you act the way you do and can aid you in changing your perspective on people around you, your job and your life goals. Journaling builds mindfulness as you delve into the emotional side of your life and then look at your problems more objectively to make proactive, intentional actions that will make your life better.

Go ahead; purchase a small spiral notebook or a fancy leather bound book. Both will work just fine. Put that pen or pencil to paper & give yourself a chance. Let journaling build your insight and mindfulness!

~Bob

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SMALL STEPS TO SUCCESS

3x3 Baby Steps to Success

Small Steps to Success: Large dreams are often extinguished by the sheer size of the goal along with a lot of self-doubts, but using small steps to success each day, will ensure you of getting closer to your dreams day by day.

Two simple tools for moving forward are:
1. Setting intentions with a strategic plan
2. Making small consistent actions each day that will move you to the goal

Sometimes big goals or life destinations can be a bit overwhelming. Know where you are right now! Determine where you want to be and breakdown that monstrous goal into smaller chunks. Breaking the bigger picture into small steps to success allows you to create small “wins” each week and will increase your confidence to tackle the next step in your journey.

There are so many possibilities for reaching your goal that sometimes people can’t even begin. When faced with this decision-making paralysis, many people quit before they start. Small, easy steps each day will have more impact than a few “big leaps.” So you want to save $20,000 for a down payment on a house.

Here are a few scenarios to achieve this:
Step1: Put all your pocket change in a jar to start your savings account. Once you have $100, you open an account at the bank.
Step 2: Set up an auto draft within your checking account to take $10 per paycheck or $5 per week from checking into your new savings account. You have now created a new positive habit without a colossal amount of pain.
Step 3: If you get a bonus check, deposit that into your savings. If you get a tax refund, deposit that into your savings. If you are still saving the change, start adding all the $1 bills left in your wallet into the jar each night – deposit when the jar is full.
Step 4: After six months, increase your auto draft to $15 per paycheck; you have gotten more comfortable with the fact that you are not punishing yourself by saving — you are reallocating your money in a new direction.

Small steps to success with a proactive plan will put you into a new home before you know it. Now plug in your big goal and develop your step-by-step plan today!

Bob

Ready to learn more proactive tips? Let me know what questions or comments you have:

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PAY DOWN CREDIT OR SAVE?

D44DCBC319B9F36910FCC0683834102B

One of the most asked questions I get is: Do I Pay down credit or save? I say do both at the same time!

If a lower income is the cause and you hate your job, find your passion and work in that field. If you don’t have skills, take classes. While the classes may have a cost, the benefits often generate higher income. Just like a game of Monopoly, when you circle around the block each month, you can pick up that extra money!

If you hate being broke, start saving. If you are unhappy with your debt, make a plan to pay it down while curbing spending. What is working for you and what isn’t? Start creating your financial freedom now, even if it’s scary or feels too big.  Making proactive choices is the way to begin heading in a new direction.

Financial security may feel like it is unattainable, but you may need to change your perspective. The cure for being financially overwhelmed is persistence and knowledge. Want to know the best way to a robust savings account? It is one step at a time! Pay down credit on your lowest balance and then start saving ten dollars per paycheck knowing that, over time the account balance will add up to a significant sum. In that way, you can create a new habit that is not painful and creates more wealth.

Surround yourself with books and people that provide financial advice or go online to reputable sites. If you are more comfortable with personal interaction, try to find a personal friend or colleague who excels in your area of weakness, then schedule a time to have coffee with them, and seek their advice.

Financial stability may not happen overnight. Setting goals starts the journey, and you may find the distance to realign your life is closer than you thought. Just put one foot in front of the other and get moving! Pay down your credit AND Save.

Step by Step!

(image available as a screen saver at http://www.hasbro.com/en-us/media/monopoly-money-screen-saver:D4496164-19B9-F369-10B8-4A25863AC342)