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BUDGET FOR YOUR FUTURE

Start a Savings AcctAre you saving? If you are in the hole one hundred dollars this month, and you continue down that path, how long will it be before you get so far behind that you will not be able to turn it around? You need to create a savings habit. Some financial advisors suggest eliminating all debt before saving. I believe you should pay off debt and save simultaneously.

Start putting twenty-five dollars into a savings account. Today. NOW!

Set up an automatic debit with the bank so that, when your direct deposit hits on the 5th of each month into your checking account, an electronic transfer goes into your savings account on the 6th. Start this habit at the same time you learn to pay down your debts. You want to establish a method for both. Yes, you’ll pay a little more interest than if you put the extra twenty-five dollars toward the credit card debt, but you’ll start to see your savings account grow. My experience is that, as people begin to save a little, they feel a sense of accomplishment and can’t wait to start putting more away.

Remind yourself to “pay yourself” first. That is what saving is about – paying yourself for your future. People say they want to pay themselves first, and they usually don’t follow through. I ask my clients, “Why aren’t you saving?” I often hear, “I am waiting to get this big check, and then I’m going to kick-start my savings plan.” Or they say, “I want to pay off all my debt before I start saving.”

My experience with many clients (and my previous self) is that we often promise ourselves to save, and we rarely do. There isn’t usually a big windfall or a money tree that lets us wipe away all our debts and obligations. Assume there’s no big lottery win in your future and just start putting away small amounts.

Get into the new habit of saving. You should start with twenty-five dollars. Start experiencing the gratification of seeing your savings grow while paying down your credit cards and other debts. Incorporate the habit of saving while honoring your prior financial obligations. You are now becoming debt-free while building your wealth and that equation will provide more freedom for future plans.

Each evening, I empty my pockets and drop the change into a jar. I have three or four jars. When one fills up, I add a second one… and then a third. I may have about eighty bucks of change at the end of the year. If you like to save your change like I do, you don’t even have to keep filling those jars. Take the coins down to the bank and throw them into your savings account where it will earn a little interest. It may be little change at first, but lots of small change turns into dollars. Going from being in the red to managing a positive flow of income is a great feeling!

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Let’s Make Tax Season Easier!

3x3 Easy tax TipsNeed a few financial tips to assist with your money and tax decisions? As a CPA, I get a lot of questions on how best to prepare for paying taxes, and preparing for tax season. Today, I would like to give you a few suggestions for this year and steps to be sure you will be ready next year!

A lot of people wait until the last minute to start adding up receipts. What I suggest is to purchase a money management tool, like Quicken or QuickBooks to track your money and expenses on a weekly or monthly basis, so that you are not playing “catch-up” at the end of the year.

OR: For those of you that don’t like to manage receipts digitally, I recommend purchasing several large manila envelopes and labeling them for the different expenses you will incur over the year. For example, you might have ten big yellow envelopes and one might be labeled automobile expenses, one might be repair and maintenance expenses, and one could be labeled cell phone and communications, etc. Each month you would just throw the receipts for that category into the envelope.

A lot of people make the mistake of filing or presenting their receipts by month: January, February, March, and so on. The government doesn’t care about monthly receipts, only what the sum of each category is – as related to your income and deductible expenses. So filing receipts by category is much more efficient. Another thing you might do is to save all receipts when making a charitable donation. Place these receipts in an envelope as well, to document your tax deductions.

Additionally, if you have several streams of revenue, be sure to save several of your pay stubs, in the event you don’t get a W-2 from that employer. At the least, save the final pay stub of the year to give yourself a “snapshot” for determining your annual salary from that employer or company.

Hopefully you will find these tips helpful. These simple steps will result in you being better organized, while making tax season less stressful and easier to deal with!

You CAN have a healthier relationship with your money!
Bob

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THE BEST is YET to COME

new-yearAnother year is upon us! Time to review the past year and to celebrate a new beginning.

Look back over the past year, take a moment to reflect on the moments that meant the most to you and to sift through the hard times to determine how to navigate 2016 more efficiently.

Open your heart and mind to this new year. There are so many opportunities and new experiences ahead even though the future is unknown. This nebulous new year will soon become a new chapter in the fabric of life. While it feels uncertain, resetting your personal and financial GPS brings you a plethora of positive possibilities. Remember, even your best friends were once strangers.

Today is a good time to purchase a journal for planting new ideas, setting a few goals and documenting the journey this next year. While anticipation for the “new year” is exciting, it is easy to think a change will come overnight, and even easier to get disillusioned when goals seem elusive, and more time is needed to achieve goals you desire. Be honest with yourself when setting new goals. And be compassionate with yourself as revisions are made over time.

Embrace yourself! Open your eyes to fresh opportunities. Write down your dreams and add a deadline. Create your blueprint for 2016 and then follow up each and every day with small steps toward your most important goals. Build a life of proactive abundance, using conscious choices that result in a wealth of life, love and having “more than enough!”

Here’s to a bountiful and intentional life in 2016!
Bob

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Negative vs. Positive

3x3 Broccoli_Love it or Hate itStudies have documented that a negative mindset can make people more susceptible to addiction, lack of focus, health problems or perceived health problems. Learning new ways to cope and overcome negative factors can actually help you live longer and stronger.

Another form of negative thinking that can hold you back is often based on emotions, such as feeling alone in the world or being jealous of those who have more. When self-doubt, fear or anger becomes the basis for making decisions, it can create a downward spiral of poor choices.

In fact, negative thinking can have a very real and damaging impact on your health and your life! There is no magic pill for this, but it is possible to turn things around. I am a big proponent of stillness and writing thoughts down. Make a list of everything bad in your life and everything good in your life. Now begin to focus on the positive aspects of your life and spend some time thinking about how you could enhance or increase them.

By directing your negative energy toward positive actions and constructive thinking, you take away the power of the negative and can channel your thoughts toward a new direction. Just as you might work out your large muscles, you are now working your mental muscles and building strength to pursue an abundant life. As you increase your mental control, you may decide to expand your list of positive actions by setting intentions for your future success.

It will take some effort. One of the ways to begin training your mind is to be more aware of your day-to-day thinking patterns. If a family member or work colleague hurts your feelings – STOP before you fall into an old, habitual response. Explore your feelings and decide if that old habit is still working for you. You may find it’s time to let go of your reactive response and craft a new way of dealing with challenges in your life.

The last tip for creating a more proactive lifestyle is to choose different words. If you absolutely hate broccoli and are served a delicious meal that includes steak, broccoli, baked potato and chocolate mousse, state the positive: I am so pleased, I really like steak, potatoes and chocolate mousse. Forget about the broccoli, you have three foods you like and only one item you don’t. You are in the positive. What a difference! You are enjoying the best and leaving the rest – a wonderful recipe for life!

Bon Appetit!
Bob