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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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Destination: Celebrating a Successful Life!

prosperity-wealth

Being rich is not a destination. Fine-tune your success with targeted goals and conscious choices. Here is how to create and celebrate your life – the way you imagined it could be! 

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

Being rich is not a destination. Each of us has our unique perspective and vision of what success means to us. What is your image of wealth and 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. Continue on your journey! Reap the benefits.

As you gain traction and reach your goals, be sure to stop and celebrate your life. Pause. Enjoy the moment. Don’t let negative emotions become roadblocks. Know that you can continue to move forward with intention and clarity. Cheers!

Here’s a quick video for you to reflect on. If you are looking for some new financial tools, be sure to check out these new online financial platforms and apps I have collected — as a resource for you.

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IT’s YOUR MONEY

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It’s Your Money!

This is a long-term relationship that goes on for the rest of your life.
Honor it.
Respect it.
Take it seriously.

Your money relationship never ends, it only changes form. This is one
relationship you can’t get out of. It’s your unique relationship, so how
you choose to respond to finances depends on you.
Will you actively participate or shut down?
Will you plan ahead?
Will you make mistakes? And when you do, how will you get back on track?

You control this financial relationship. It’s Your Money
Own that. Take responsibility. This is your life.
Keep your financial reality in your consciousness.
Talk about money issues with others to help bring them to consciousness, to help them heal.
Set goals and make budgets.
Teach financial responsibility to children for future generations.

Forgive yourself for your wants, needs, mistakes, ambition, shame, and
guilt. It’s only money!

Heal your Money Nerve.
Embrace your financial relationship—
for what it was …
what it is …
and what it will be.

You deserve a healthy relationship with money, after all, it’s your money.
You have earned it—literally.
Are you ready to receive and manage abundance?
It’s your choice!

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Burden of College Loan Debt

3x3 TMN CollegeLoanDebtToday’s millennial generation is striving to live the same American dream their parents achieved, but many graduates are drowning under the burden of college loan debt, saddled with a variety of loans that will take decades to pay off. Everyone agrees that higher education translates into better jobs and workforce, but at what price? Not all college graduates are reaping the perceived payoff.

What can be done to assist this emerging workforce with navigating the massive burden of debt successfully? What are some ideas for helping this generation grow their careers while building wealth instead of suffocating from enormous college loan debt?

A few companies like the El Paso-based JAR Construction, are investigating loan assistance as one of the perks of employment. The companies feel this benefit aids in decreasing stress, gives their new employees options to pay down the debt and may also assist in employee retention.

http://www.elpasoinc.com/news/local_news/article_1f4ff13e-4782-11e6-9279-3fece6cbb319.html

There are now several credit cards that allow its users to transfer reward points and cash-back dollars to be used for payment toward student loans. Gradifi, a Boston-based startup that helps people pay down student loans, announced its partnership with a small bank to offer the card, backed by a checking account insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Cardholders will earn 1% rewards with the Gradifi MasterCard debit card on all signature-based purchases.
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/rewards-program-to-pay-off-student-loan.aspx#ixzz4E8KtreNn

Even if you are not a student and have multiple credit cards or have racked up more debt than you can handle, remember that small steps will win the bigger battle against debt. A good rule of thumb is to pay all minimum amounts due and concentrate on the lowest balance owed. Get that one account paid off, close out the account and then aim for the next one. A small success can give you the power to tackle more!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lule-demmissie/think-small-a-new-strateg_b_10772704.html

If you are looking for a way to destroy debt and find financial freedom in your life, be sure to explore “The Money Boom” workshop. My colleagues, David Auten and John Schneider (aka the DebtFreeGuys) and I will be hosting this one-day seminar on Saturday, August 6, in Denver, CO. You will be given proven techniques and tools to lay the foundation for living a life of abundance and security. Let us help you drop your debt!

Learn More Here:

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BUYING A HOME

3x3 Buying a HomeBuying a home is the biggest financial decision most people will make in their lives – and choosing a mortgage lender goes hand in hand with that choice. Because it’s a long-term commitment that has a daily impact, it’s crucial not to go in blindly. With the sheer amount of options available today, you will want to consider numerous options to simplify the process. Having the correct knowledge can save you thousands of dollars.

I often advise my clients to understand their emotional needs and create a new path to ease their “money nerve” before making critical financial decisions. It is essential to map out best choices to create your long-term strategy. If you are ready to buy a home this summer, I have some resources for you.

While spring is traditionally the busiest time for real estate sales, this summer could prove to be the hottest time for buying a home, according to a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University. “From a buyer’s perspective you have more choice, but you’re also competing against far more buyers,” says Ken Johnson, Ph.D., a professor of finance and associate dean at FAU’s College of Business, who also has sold hundreds of homes as a real estate broker. “Sellers are also looking to sell over the summer, particularly if they have children and want to get a deal done before school starts again.”

First Steps for Home Buying
Too many potential buyers find the house and only then worry about financials. That might be why they’re still potential buyers. Instead, first take an X-ray of your financial life, says Eric Tyson, co-author of “Home Buying for Dummies.”

Put exact numbers on the figures you’ve probably been estimating up to now:
— What do you make every month?
— How much do you spend every month?
— How much do you have in your down payment account?
— What are your assets and liabilities?
— How much are you carrying in debt — credit card and otherwise?
— What significant expenses or windfalls (a raise or bonus) do you expect in the next six months or year?
— What’s your ideal monthly house payment?

Selecting The Top-Rated Mortgage Companies
The team at Simple Dollar spent six weeks analyzing 181 mortgage companies and found five options that met their standards. The team personally tested the finalists, evaluated customer service and analyzed rates and fees. Need advice deciding between government-backed loans versus private loans, and adjustable rates versus fixed rates? If you are ready to take the next step of buying a home, this informative guide will assist you in the application process: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/best-mortgage-lenders/

Find a collection of budgeting tools, financial advice, numerous guides, and creative, frugal ideas via The Money Nerve HERE.

Additional Home Buying Info

Happy House Hunting!
Bob

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Setting Your Financial GPS

financial GPSSetting your financial GPS is a strategic plan for reaching a life goal or planning a future destination. First, you need to know where you are and where you want to go.

When people get in a car and activate their GPS, it is assumed the device knows where the car is and will arrive at the correct address. From experience, you cannot always rely on it to be accurate. The same concept of reaching a target in your life must include your starting point and what you want to achieve. To make good financial decisions, you need to break the autopilot mentality and start thinking for yourself. Being on autopilot when facing money decisions means you allow roadblocks and congested traffic existing in your head.

On an actual freeway, you can see hundreds of cars ahead of you on the road. The roadblocks you have set up in your mind tend to be less obvious. Nobody is setting out an orange cone with blinking lights telling you to merge your credit card debt.

Budgeting inertia and increased mental stress take place when you try to juggle payments on seven credit cards or transfer money from one bank account to another. Have you ever freed up expenses on one credit card so you can charge more on it while making a payment for another card? Do you wait for a paycheck to cover checks you just wrote? Time for a new roadmap!

A financial GPS can be a terrific tool for setting a destination from your start point to a future goal. Even when your financial advisor and your accountant set up external steps for you to follow, you are ultimately the driver of your “monetary” vehicle. I have several clients who, in the face of grave consequences, have driven right off a fiscal cliff – despite having been informed of its presence.

Collectively, many of us have become unconscious and drift through the “business” of our lives. As you become aware of what direction you want to go, you can work your way out of that dream state. Slow down and make conscious choices for the next three months. “I will not charge my credit card; I’ll just skip going out to dinner this week.” “Maybe I do not need three new outfits.” “I should balance my checkbook.” “Take a breath and focus.” (It is good to remind yourself to slow down.) Now you can actively manage your money rather than frantically reacting to fiscal surprises.

Makes life more enjoyable!
Bob

Follow @themoneynerve on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter

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Vacation Travel Hacks

The Money Nerve travel hacks

Everyone deserves an escape from work now and then and you don’t need to break your piggy bank. Make the most of your vacation dollars by planning ahead, and using money-savvy travel hacks to create an oasis of fun and relaxation!

You know you need a break and want to find the best spot. Here are a couple of tips for you to find the best solutions for both traveling and sticking to your budget.

  • Book fixed-cost trips: Explore and select trips that fit the exact dollar amount in your budget. No extra fees & no surprises. Another method for destination selection is to pick a theme. Base your trip on some of your favorite activities. Love wine? Tour a few vineyards or participate in a cooking class seminar. History buffs can find numerous forts and museums across the country while nature lovers have incredible opportunities to hike and bike, enjoying a personal experience in stunning landscapes.
  • Plan Ahead: Find discount codes for your favorite destination and pre-purchase museum tickets, boat rides or city-saver coupon books ahead of time. You will be amazed at how much money you can save!
  • Road Trips: Today, gasoline is still very reasonable and driving is a cost efficient mode of travel. Allow time for side trips and enjoy several stops along the way. Check out some of the most popular USA road trips HERE.
  • Spectacular Landscape: Another fabulous way to see America: Visit nps.gov to find a national park within driving distance. For more road trip ideas, visit http://www.visittheusa.com.
  • Lower Hotel Costs: Travel with friends and family and rent a condo or house. One option is to find smaller independently owned hotels that are not part of a chain. Many times you will get more personal service and spend less. Tired of slow elevators and too many people? Investigate AirBNB or Vacation Homes By Owner for spacious digs at half the price of hotels.
  • Popular Destinations: Find the “hot-spot” and stay in the nearest town for bigger savings. For example, if you are going to Niagara Falls, stay outside of Buffalo, New York – it’s only a 20-minute drive across the border.
  • Flying: Be sure to check flight rates often, use the online travel services that compare prices and send you alerts; farecompare.com, farecast.com, yapta.com, travelocity.com.

Vacations are great stress relievers and bring a sense of renewal to the fast pace of everyday life.  Reward yourself! Be proactive and reap the benefits of your hard work without going into debt.  Be sure to follow @themoneynerve on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more travel hacks.

Have a great vacation this summer — You deserve it!

Bob

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IS “MORE” ALWAYS BETTER?

Sweep Out ClutterIs “more” always better?
When does enough become too much?

We all want MORE! Are you working just to get by or do your work/life goals complement each other? The epitome of the American Dream is that people work hard, become more successful, earn thousands of dollars, and die with a plethora of material possessions that showcase their wealth.

But here’s a thought – Can your possessions consume you?

Do you look forward to going to work each day? Or do you dread your work environment? Maybe you would rather be doing something else. What is it and why not take steps to get there?

Making a proactive decision to get more out of life can include using what we have, being intentional when making new purchases, recycling our extras, and knowing that each material “thing” in our life has a purpose.

Look around and notice all the things you have around you. Do you need three identical vases? When was the last time you used any of that “important stuff” you have in your storage unit? Would you be significantly happier with more?

Having more material things brings additional responsibilities, cleaning, maintenance, insurance costs and clutter to daily living. Did you know that the average American home has 300,000 items in it? In fact, the Self Storage Association reports that Americans spend $24 billion each year to store their stuff in 2.3 billion square feet of these units.

Do you need ten credit cards? Maybe two would work, one card you pay off each month and another card with a low-interest rate, for when you need to carry a balance.

Does your stomach get in knots when the credit card bill lands on your kitchen counter? Using cash or paring down on your credit purchases could ease your money nerve.

Streamlining your life doesn’t mean scarcity. It is a lifestyle choice to de-clutter your life. Placing the emphasis on more meaningful work, family, flexibility of time, experiences and building relationships instead of material possessions can enhance the quality of each day. Make time in your life for people, not things and reap the benefits!

Keep a daily log of what you do each day. If television or electronic devices eat up a significant portion of your time, you may choose to reallocate TV time to go for a walk or spend time with your family.

Can less be more? Indeed, it can. Choose what is most vital to creating the life you desire. Write out your goals and a budget; a plan that tells your money where to go instead of you just wondering where it went. By examining what is essential, and using intentional goals, you can simplify your finances and your life.

Get more out of life!

Bob

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AFRAID OF THE IRS

IRS-Agent

It’s amazing how many people are terrified of the IRS. They view this government organization as the ultimate parent or authority figure. Even when they know they’ll get a refund, the process of getting their financial numbers together (and the fear of a possible audit) are enough to make some people avoid dealing with their taxes altogether.

Some even believe they’ll end up in prison if they have avoided filing taxes for years. Debtor prison ended a long time ago, but fines for filing taxes late are real. Ignoring tax responsibilities does not make them go away, it merely increases work later and often has a penalty attached.

When you fear authority and do not take responsibility for your finances, you essentially put the responsibility on others to make your decisions. If you’re not taking action out of rebellion, you’re saying, “I don’t like your ideas, so go ahead and do whatever you want.” If you’re relinquishing your financial responsibilities because of insecurity, you might say, “I’m afraid of doing it wrong, so I will do nothing.” Although the intentions are different, the result is the same.

Sam, one of my of my clients, came to me one day to talk about his taxes. He said, “Um, I don’t want anybody to know this, but I haven’t filed my taxes in ten years.” He was very embarrassed. I completed his returns, and it turned out he would have had tax refunds, but lost all the money due to him because the IRS deadline to collect the refunds had passed.

Once Sam became current with his filings, he was relieved and promised he would never let it happen again. The next year, I called him to remind him to send me his tax information … and the next year and the next. I finally stopped calling him. Caution! There is no time frame if you owe the IRS money. Sam was literally paying the IRS 5,000 dollars per year to not file! It is truly amazing how expensive inaction can be—and inaction is often triggered by fear.

One way to avoid fear is to be intentional as you journey through the year. Purchase an accordion folder this week & start stashing paperwork into categories. File them as soon as you pay the bills or get a paycheck. Breaking the entire fiscal year into a weekly routine of filing paperwork into your different categories will make that big April 15th chore much more manageable!

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DON’T MAKE A 2016 RESOLUTION

3x3 No Resolutions-Positive ActionsForget those “pie in the sky” resolutions that are too ambitious to keep and are quickly forgotten as the holidays fade into the fullness of today’s activities.

Instead, make a lifestyle change with small daily habits to bring about the change you desire. Focus inward and face your deepest anxieties. What scares you the most when thinking about money? Losing your house? Not having enough money saved to send your children to college? Are you terrified that your old car will break down, and you will be late to work – again? You might lose your job without transportation.

Who knows? You might win the Lottery today & this flash of good luck would take care of everything! Good Luck with that! You have a better chance of flying to Mars before winning today’s big pot of money.

STOP! Write down your fears. Determine what you are most afraid of and prioritize your concerns. You can make small changes in your life to battle the fear. By writing down your concerns and defining what keeps you awake at night, you can now write down a small “to-do” list to conquer financial obstacles. You will find that nebulous, nagging fear that has been keeping your stomach tied up in knots will begin to shrink. Often, our fear of the FEAR can be debilitating, but as we define and face our nightmares, an amazing thing happens. The worry begins to dissipate; you gain confidence, and your emotions become easier to manage. By creating this focused daily mindset, instead of grandiose resolutions, you can achieve small, tiny victories, in a weekly or monthly fashion.

As your confidence builds, you can begin to target other goals in your life. You are creating a life of intention, making conscious choices each day, crafting the life that you dared to dream, day by day. And that my friends, is what I call #ProactiveAbundance!

What a wonderful gift to give to yourself!
Best Wishes & Happy New Year.
~Bob