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It’s Your Dream, Ask For It

Intentional Life with The Money Nerve

IT’S YOUR DREAM, ASK FOR IT

Adding a Deadline to a Dream Creates Goals

Remember as you dream that it’s your life and your goals. Dreams have the power to become goals, and effectively change a vision into reality. Remember your vision is not your mother’s list, society’s list or your child’s list. If buying something for others or driving an expensive car is at the top of your list, try to examine why. Are you making choices based on guilt or insecurity? Or is this goal motivated byaa deeply ingrained dream that you want to accomplish? If you’re not sure, ask yourself if this choice is a result of your emotionally reactive Money Nerve and explore your intentions.

Prioritizing Your Needs

Think of what’s most important to you. What do you want and why do you want it? Once you move away from the negative emotions that pinch your Money Nerve and head toward a more giving and empowering motivation, you may find that money will become a means to an end. I am not sure whether I have ever been passionate about crunching numbers; however, I am passionate about helping other people. I assist people to manage their money effectively by being the best accountant I can be, which is also financially rewarding.

Follow Your Heart

Pursuing your passion and following your dream often results in financial rewards, especially when you set thoughtful goals. When people can achieve financial stability, I love to celebrate their success. Are you ready to celebrate your success?

ASK FOR IT

You should ask for the things you want every day. Asking for help puts you in a state of mind that helps you recognize you are not alone and there is something greater than you at work. It also lets others know what is important to you. Putting yourself in that mental state allows you to be humble enough to become aware of a larger reality, and to accept help with an open heart.

Creating Small Daily Habits

Whether you get to that state by praying daily or by being inspired by Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich, you unleash the power of your mind. One habit – opening yourself up to reflection or meditation, allows you to create quiet space every day. This practice results in a better alignment of your thoughts and your actions

Positive Energy

You never know how you’re affecting people with the choices you make. Money is no different. You may not be able to control when or how your money decisions are perceived, used or squandered or even paid back, but you can control what you do! Somewhere in the universe, there is a karmic piggy bank with your name on it.

MAKE A PLAN

Now that you know more about yourself and can identify your Money Nerve, it’s time to create clear monetary objectives.  For more positive results when planning a lifestyle change, be sure to include short-term, mid-range, and long-term financial goals. Success with smaller steps or achieving a short-range goal will boost your confidence and make the bigger steps easier to accomplish. Keep your dreams in mind as you move forward with purpose.

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Does Money Buy True Love?

Money vs Time

Does Money Buy True Love?

My grandparents gave my family so much! We knew they loved us best! We were their only grandchildren. Their money bought TVs, stereos, a vehicle when we turned sixteen – and we loved being spoiled by them. But as children, we never thought to ask “does money buy true love?” When I was a young adult, and my grandparents needed some help around the house, I spent a few days in their yard fixing things up. At the end of the weekend, my grandfather tried to give me a hundred bucks, which I politely refused. My grandparents were very confused and hurt. They felt they needed to pay for everything, all the time. They could not comprehend that I simply wanted to spend time with them because I loved them.

Do you use money to “solve” problems or to make people like you more?

It wasn’t until recently that I realized what my grandparents were really saying with their overly generous attention: “We don’t feel worthy of your love, but if we give you lots of money, will you pretend to love us?” I was taken aback, hurt and saddened by that thought.

Using Money to Mask Insecurity

What I came to understand is that my grandparents grew up feeling insecure and unworthy of attention. The only way they thought they could convince people to love them was through bribery. My grandparents taught my mother the same lesson, which not surprisingly trickled down to my siblings and me. Buying expensive presents, always treating friends or family to meals or providing luxuries that they cannot afford, to make others love you more, isn’t a “real” relationship.  Even though the money was always used for positive experiences to create a loving environment, the cash did not create a bond; it was the act of connecting and caring that cemented the relationship.

Explore the Emotions that Propel You to Use Money in Relationships

Going out to eat, attending special events, and taking your family to Disneyland are all positive things that we do with friends and family because we care about them. However, if the underlying emotion is based on fear and need, it might be time to explore your actions. Are you afraid people won’t like you if you can’t splurge on expensive meals and events? Do you need people to admire you or feel awed and impressed with your generosity?  Is your money serving you well when you “buy” people?

Investigate the emotions that trigger your automatic financial response in relationships.  Check out ways to examine your actions – set aside quiet time to reflect on what’s most important to you or begin to journal. Start making conscious choices that will generate an authentic connection based on love and trust. By cultivating genuine relationships with family and friends, you will construct a lifestyle of proactive abundance, and that makes all the difference in the world!

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Tax Tips to Lower Your 2016 Tax Bill

Tax Tips to Lower Your 2016 Tax Bill

You still have time to cut your taxes — and make smart moves to lower next year’s as well. As a certified CPA myself, I am swimming through a pile of tax returns for my clients! I wanted you to have some good info on how to lower your 2016 tax bill, if you haven’t filed yet.  Here are some effective tips from SANDRA BLOCK, Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Most taxpayers approach the tax-filing deadline with a mixture of fear and loathing. But this year, there are reasons to be more sanguine. For one thing, because 2016 was an election year, Congress didn’t tinker much with the tax code. If your personal circumstances didn’t change last year, your tax bill probably won’t change much, either. And if you’re a do-it-yourself filer, you don’t have to get up to speed on a slew of new rules.

Because April 15 falls on a Saturday this year and April 17 is a holiday in Washington, D.C., you have until Tuesday, April 18, to file your federal tax return.

VIDEO: How to Prepare for Tax Season

Here are some ways you can still trim your 2016 tax bill, plus potential speed bumps.

Contribute to an IRA.

If you’re not enrolled in a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan, you can deduct an IRA contribution of up to $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older), no matter how high your income. You have until April 18 to make a 2016 contribution to your IRA.

Fund a health savings account.

You also have until April 18 to set up and fund a health savings account for 2016. To qualify, you must have had an HSA-eligible insurance policy at least since December 1.

Get credit for tuition payments.

The American Opportunity tax credit, worth up to $2,500 per eligible student for the first four years of college, is a valuable tax break for parents of college students.

Health care housekeeping.

President Trump has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but it was still in effect in 2016, so you’ll have to deal with it on your tax return. To avoid a “shared responsibility payment”—longhand for a penalty—you must prove that you had qualifying health insurance in 2016 or were eligible for an exemption.

Want to investigate these ideas  a little deeper? Additional details HERE

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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

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Become More Aware with Daily Journaling

Daily Journaling

Setting aside a few minutes for daily journaling each morning or at the end of the day creates a greater awareness of your actions, and what changes you would like to make. You may have noticed that you have an emotional response when dealing with your finances. As you define your “Money Nerve” and begin to see what makes you uncomfortable, quiet reflection each day provides you a powerful tool to become more proactive with your decisions.

This process of self-discovery is not easy. If it were, everyone would be debt free and have enough money in the bank to live comfortably. Facing your Money Nerve can be stressful and frightening. Let’s say at this point, you are fearful and not yet taking steps to make your life better. Are you willing to experience the fear and still push through it? Most people go toward change kicking and screaming. They may think there is less risk when they box themselves up and resist change. The environment around us is changing so quickly that adaptation is a necessity. Those who are willing to make changes by being honest and facing their emotions are the people who are moving toward success.

Taking an emotional inventory at the moment is the first step. This self-reflection helps you become aware of how you feel when you make financial decisions. If you are having difficulty figuring out how your Money Nerve affects your finances, use daily journaling to think back to moments during the day when you had to make a financial decision. Choosing to buy coffee for a friend or waiting to make a credit card payment may have triggered your Money Nerve. Ideally, you’ll start to note your emotions at the end of every day, as part of your mental mapping and reflection. Tips for starting a daily journal.

If it is hard for you to carve out time, try this strategy: When a client or friend is 15 minutes late or cancels their time with you, see that moment as “extra time” and use it to meditate or find a calm spot in your day. You can simply enjoy the quiet or jot down notes on how the day is going, and what you would like to see happen — by the end of the day. Are you making daily decisions based on fear or are you proactively forming decisions that can be accomplished with small conscious choices each day?

Be aware and make time to address the change you want to see in your life. Become responsible for your life, your finances, and your mental attitude. You are now making a choice to create change – now is a good time to purchase blank paper to reshape your life dreams with daily journaling! Want to learn more about easing your Money Nerve?  You can receive a monthly newsletter with helpful tips and motivational guidelines to find your financial freedom.

Time to sharpen your pencil!

Bob

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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!

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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

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PASSING THE TORCH with ABUNDANT GIVING

Abundance is more than enoughChanging your “mental map” or mindset can create wealth in your life.

Living an abundant life is a proactive attitude to seek out what is important to you and strive to create a purposeful life. There is more to life than sitting at the computer every day and then sitting on the couch passively watching other people’s lives. You shape your world by how you choose to take action on the circumstances thrown your way. Decide if you want to allow others’ actions to ignite your anger or feelingsor if you would like to make intentional choices for a more positive outcome.

Give to others with a generous spirit: When you give time or money to others, you are implying that goodness is there for all. The positive energy from an intentional gift “without strings” will open your heart and mind to the abundance of your life. Intentionally put $2 in your pocket to have on hand to help others, or use the next few weeks to “pay it forward” for someone else, just because you can.

Find the goodness in people and enjoy the richness of life. With all the tragedy we have witnessed in the past few months, it seems like covering our ears, bolting our doors and making our world smaller is the best course of action – but that action could be counter-intuitive. Look for the goodness in others, have empathy for those in need, and find a way to forgive those around you for past hurts. Forgiving is another way to pay it forward.

As we move into the holidays, find time to share your vision of happiness, peace and thankfulness. More money and material possessions will not make you happy. Peace and happiness come from within. When you share your peace and love with others, you add worth to others, honor their spirit and that action makes the world a better place for all.

Have a great week

Bob

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BENEFITS OF JOURNALING

JournalingThe process of journaling is not a new concept; in fact scholars have found evidence of people writing down their thoughts in 10th century Japan. You may define a journal as a listing of activities or maybe jotting down your secret dreams and desires in a diary.

Or you may find sketches and free form phrases work better than writing your “life story” each day. There is no right or wrong way to journal. By experimenting, you can discover the best avenue for expressing your inner thoughts.

I like to define daily entries in a journal as a mental mapping exercise.

By knowing where I am, I can easily target where I want to go. Visualizing is a major component in moving forward. Each day, I like to create a mental space to formulate my schedule for the next day and then spend some quiet time to listen to my thoughts. Thirty minutes would be ideal, but if you are just beginning, find 5 minutes just for you – in your busy, hectic life. It will make a difference.

Don’t overthink this process. You may just write down one thought or vent about one bad experience in your life. Some people keep a notepad handy to write in as during a coffee break. Or you may prefer to recap the day right before going to bed. If you love your mobile device, there are apps for journaling!

When you first begin to carve out small moments of quiet time, echoes of what others say about you may distract you. Or you may dwell on preconceived notions handed down by parents, friends or colleagues. Push those jaded voices aside and pay attention to your thoughts, your dreams, your values and your goals. This focused contemplation will allow you to visualize a new dialogue with yourself, new possibilities and a fresh approach to old patterns.

Journaling or “mental mapping” gives you the power to visualize change and become the image you see in your mind. Flipping dreams into reality comes from a deep and secure awareness of who you are and, how you feel about life. That knowledge allows you to make choices based on clear and conscious intentions.

When you write down your feelings, you take them out of your heart and place them on paper. Once the words are in black and white, you can process and understand your feelings from a less biased perspective. Many people find balance in their lives by writing or sketching daily.

Hopefully, you will find (as many others have discovered) that spending a few minutes a day with yourself and documenting your thoughts can have a profound impact for good!

Have an intentional week!

Bob