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Unconscious Choices: Time To Stop

Unconscious Choices

Stop Making Unconscious Choices

Do you ever try to juggle payments on numerous credit cards to stay afloat? Is it an unconscious choice to constantly transfer money back and forth to pay bills?

Do you free up expenses on one credit card so you can charge more on another card? Do  you “need” a new pair of running shoes? Have you made a payment on a credit card, crossed your fingers, and hoped your paycheck would be deposited in time to cover the check?

If you have too many things going on financially, make time to stop. Take a deep breath. Your unconscious choices are wreaking havoc with your financial journey.  Become more aware of your actions and begin to focus on streamlining your life. You cannot keep all this mumbo-jumbo going on and ever expect to reach your dream destination!

Slow Down to Make Conscious Choices

Unconscious choices create an “auto-pilot mentality.” This happens when people fall back on old habits, and make choices without thinking.Determine where you are today, and where you want to go tomorrow. As a result, you can make better decisions moving forward. Set up a proactive plan and use conscious choices to reach fiscal goals.

One unusual tool to get out of this cycle is to freeze your credit cards. Once you have a place to live, enough money for food and access to transportation, most other “things” are “wants.” If most purchases are for entertainment, fine dining, clothes and extra things you could live without. Stop! Freeze Your Credit Cards!

Cool Down Your Emotional Impulses

Take all the credit cards you have maxed out, and put them in a container. Fill it with water and place in your freezer. Many people buy more impulsively when using credit cards, which results in purchasing tons of unnecessary items. Since your cards are in the “deep freeze,” you must thaw the cards out to use. As a result of waiting, the unconscious urge to splurge will pass.

Create A New Mental Map

 Maybe your current mental map tells you that life cannot be enjoyed without using credit cards. Do you even know what the interest rate is? If you don’t know, you could be paying 20 percent or more on your credit cards. Create a new mental map about money.  Shift your perspective to move toward your financial goals. As a benefit of curbing your expenses, money saved from interest charges could be a down payment on a new car or a romantic trip to Italy.
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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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TALKING ABOUT MONEY WITH YOUR PARTNER

3x3-talking-about-moneyPeople would rather talk about sex than their money. It is more important to talk about money with your partner. Starting an open communication about what each partner makes, what the responsibilities are, and choosing how to manage your money, is a powerful tool for building a successful relationship.

Arguments revolving around finances are the Number 1 reason for many divorces and break-ups. If you are serious about your partner, you need to start talking about money with your partner. One easy way to start this discussion is to share about how your family handled finances. Did your Mom pay all the bills? Did your Dad always plan the family trips? Were you and your siblings paid allowance for doing household chores or was your allowance given without any obligations? Once you and your partner hear how your families handled money and find common ground, it is easier to understand why your partner makes different financial decisions than you might. Having this knowledge can also help couples to formulate a blended plan, ensuring each person has a voice setting budgets and spending.

When one person makes more money, it is easy for the other to feel less valuable. Both people need to know that they are contributing to future goals and can share their opinion. Resentment can build when there is a feeling of iniquity or that one’s opinion is not valued. Another habit that can “kill” a relationship is hiding “secret” savings accounts or debt. Each person needs to build a healthy relationship with money, so both of you can work together to be accountable for personal needs and spending money and joint dreams and goals!

Listening and talking about money with your partner can help you find creative ways to solve financial challenges. Now you can make proactive choices for directing your money toward large purchases and investing in your future…together!

Check out some of the tools on this website. Many of these tools are free and offer a roadmap for smarter fiscal management. Browse some of these links and talk with your partner about which tools might be best for you!

(Photo via business.financialpost.com)

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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)

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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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YOUR FINANCIAL GPS

3x3 From A-ZWhen we get in a car and activate the GPS, we assume it knows where we are and will get us where we want to go. Yet from experience, we know we can’t always rely on it to be accurate. In order to make good decisions before going anywhere, we first need to know where we are and where we want to go. The same principle applies when making good financial decisions, we need to break the GPS mentality and start thinking for ourselves instead of staying on financial autopilot.

You may believe that your investment adviser and your accountant use some kind of financial GPS to get you where you want to go. And that is what you are paying them for. Even if they have mapped out a plan, YOU are ultimately the driver of your fiscal vehicle. I have several clients who, in the face of grave consequences, have driven right off a money cliff despite having been informed of its presence. Know where you are, be aware, and know what your destination is. Just as there may be road closures or challenging traffic on the interstate, you need to be flexible and make monetary changes when dealing with “financial roadblocks.” Recalculate your GPS and continue to move forward to achieve important long-term goals.

Have you have become unconscious? Open your eyes, examine new options and work your way out of that dream state. Make conscious choices in your
financial travels and stay aware of your surroundings. Begin today! Approach financial decisions with a proactive, intentional course of action, rather than letting emotional reactions drive your life! You will enjoy the journey so much more and reach your life goals!

~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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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