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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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The Money Nerve College Scholarship Opportunity

The Money Nerve College Scholarship Opportunity

Money Nerve College Scholarship

Bob Wheeler, Author of The Money Nerve: Navigating the Emotions of Money, and founder of RWW CPA, is proud to offer a $500 Money Nerve College Scholarship opportunity to students majoring in Accounting. I am a proud alumni of Rhodes College, located in Memphis, TN. Although I cobbled together a variety of financial scholarships and financial aid, I loved my education experience, and have a successful career today, despite being very aware of money!

One of the core values of The Money Nerve and RWW CPA is that financial education and good money habits start at home. This Money Nerve College Scholarship opportunity is for students who are majoring in Accounting. Some of you may wish to serve your community in the future as a CPA.

Submissions will be accepted starting January 30th of each year with a winner announced August 1st.

The Money Nerve Scholarship

Being smart is no guarantee that you’ll reach your financial goals in life. In fact, many people with graduate degrees feel like they never received the financial education they needed. as a result, lots of people struggle with their money, often living “month-to-month,” because they weren’t taught to manage their money.

Good financial habits start at home, and I want to reward you and promote your family for making money management a priority. Your essay can assist you to pay for college classes or help with your expenses. As a result of your essay, you will teach Money Nerve readers and followers smarter ways to budget, invest, save and make money. I am happy to offer this Money Nerve college scholarship, and want to help with of the cost of completing college.

Check out the articles on The Money Nerve blog. Share your own financial story. My financial habits are influenced by my family, my emotional reactions to money decisions, and more than 25-years of listening to clients. As a matter of fact, many of my clients share common challenges with their money, no matter what their income is!

My passion for assisting others focuses on three concepts. First: exploring “why” people make the same financial decisions repeatedly. Second: examining “where” positive change can be made. Third: learning to set intentions – creating a “healthy relationship” with money.

This fresh perspective generates a life of proactive abundance. And anyone striving to be a CPA soon learns that the job is more than just numbers. It takes a mixture of savvy financial knowledge paired with compassion to provide assistance for people to manage their finances more efficiently.

How to Apply for The Money Nerve College Scholarship

Applicants must submit an essay (minimum 500 words- no more than 1,000 words). Share what your parents/family taught you about personal finance, and how that benefitted your life. Topics can include: budgeting, paying bills, balancing your bank statement, how to start investing, saving for big goals, making money or other financial skills that you learned. These practical tips will also help you to be a successful CPA.

• Essays must be original and not submitted to other websites.
• Applicants must be either currently enrolled in or actively applying to an undergraduate business program with a declared major in Accounting. Students at both community colleges and four-year institutions are encouraged to apply. One application per student.
• Essays can be submitted beginning January 29, 2018, and must be in my inbox by May 1st, 2018. (Word document format-not PDF)
• Mail applications to bob@themoneynerve.com, and include name, address and phone number. Please be sure to place “Scholarship” in the email subject line.
• Each applicant must state the school the student is attending or registered for, and current college level, (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student).

The Money Nerve College Scholarship Winner

Essays to be featured February – June 2018, on The Money Nerve blog. This is a great way highlight and teach financial education to young adults. The Money Nerve College scholarship winner will be selected on Friday, July 20th, and posted on Wednesday, August 1st. Winning is determined by which submitted essay receives the most social media “buzz” – generating the most social media shares.

Best of luck and I look forward to hearing what money lessons and tips have made a difference in your life!

~Bob Wheeler

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Powerful Change: Fake It Until You Become It!

Mind Over Matter

Powerful Change: Fake It Until You Become It!

Do you always accept circumstances as they appear to be?  When you resign yourself and take everything at face value, you leave many doors with better or different options shut. By opening your mind, investigating new ideas, finding new ways to tackle a challenge and visualizing a different perspective, you can make intentional changes. You can fake it until you become it!

Here are some thoughtful solutions for beginning a new journey of personal assessment and growth. Baby steps can create massive change.

Begin exploring personal and financial growth

· What are your strengths?
· Is your internal view of yourself realistic?
· Do your values align with your goals?
· Are there mental/ emotional barriers that need overcoming to be successful?
· What do you need to take the next step?

Examine your story and ask questions. Does this story (well worn and comfortable) still fit your life? If not, how do you take stock of the past and re-frame that internal vision of yourself?

Reflect on these questions below to determine where you are:

Who are you?
What are your values?
What are you passions?
What is your purpose?

Have you ever browsed through old photos and marveled how people and places have changed so dramatically? Notice the changes in you over time. Begin to investigate ways to realign your passion and purpose to reach your goals. Life is about change;  knowing who and where you are in life will assist you to move in a new direction.

You have the power to change

If you allow other people’s stories to define who you are, it is time to take responsibility for who you are. Embrace who you are, own your choices and begin to make proactive decisions and adjustments to reach your goals.

We all have different wants and needs. Some people have a strong desire to invest in their future. Others want to live exuberantly at the moment. We all have unique emotional reactions regarding our present situation. When we feel pain or guilt, are scared and ashamed of our actions, it is a sign to do somethingdifferent. Use this pent-up power to make a mental change; drawing from this mindset results in astounding physical changes.

Fake it until you become it!

I want to share this video of Amy Cuddy speaking about powerful change, on both an emotional and physical level. If you have ever felt inadequate or that you are a “fake” – and it’s just a matter of time before “everyone” finds out, watch this clip! It is life changing! In addition to focusing on a new shift in perspective, Amy shares scientific evidence that simple changes in your body language can effect other people’s opinions about you and enhance your success! It certainly affected me, and I hope you will also find it valuable.

Video: Don’t Fake it ‘till you make it; Fake it until You Become it!

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Finding Personal Success

Finding Personal Success

Finding Personal Success

Thirty years ago, success was defined as working at one company for a lifetime and being a loyal worker. Today, finding personal success can be found in many ways. Increase your personal viability by searching for opportunities that give you the power to grow. Build your success within an existing organization or seeking new ventures beyond a routine 9-5 job. Additionally, increasing  your skill level often results in an exciting job in an emerging field. Don’t sell yourself short.

As you review any negative inner dialogue, toss away outdated opinions or self defeating ideas that no longer work for you. This helps you redefine up your concept of success. Now it’s time to plan the next steps you need to fulfill your goals. Be positive in order to set yourself up as a winner.  Map out your strategic plan with small bite-sized goals that are fairly easy to achieve. The first thing to remember in your quest to find personal success is to be prepared – there will probably be bumps along the way, along with some frustrating moments. However, you can move past these challenges by being prepared, flexible and learning to maneuver more effectively.

Take a moment to assess your talents, time and budget.

If you are unsure, you can turn around feelings of insecurity:

• Evaluate your social circle
• Surround yourself with like-minded people who support you
• Budget truthfully to know your current financial position

An honest assessment regarding your current situation results in a more successful result.

Every past decision brought you exactly where you are today.

This is where you wanted to be! Every decision you have made led you to this place. Do you like where you are? Does it fulfill the “dream life” you envisioned? If this place in life shocks you, don’t despair, because today is the opportunity to make a change. As a matter of fact, now is the best time to formulate a fresh plan.

This is my favorite part of the equation because this is where you make some Money Magic appear. How do you make this happen? It is totally up to you. YOU control the numbers. YOU define how and where you want to spend your money. YOU set intentions and YOU take action. Therefore, don’t let the media, advertisers, family or friends tell you what YOU want. Take a stand and invest in YOU! I would like to point out that stating what is most important in your life results in a personal and financial roadmap that delivers a genuine outcome.

Reaffirm strategic goals

“I am passionate about ________ and my goal is to someday _________!”

As a result of stating what is meaningful, consistent actions every day result in completing many small goals. Finding your personal success is enhanced by achieving goals consistently. Winning begets winning, and this mental strength becomes a tool for you to build a meaningful, prosperous life – even when detours pop up along the way!

Charting Your Course

Now you are charting your own course with thoughtful intention. As you know, budgets ebb and flow, but continue to invest in your long-term plans. The benefit of planting seeds of intentional, conscious choice are evident when you finally purchase your first home or take that coveted “over the top” European vacation. Living an abundant life becomes a way of life, not just a one-time destination. In fact, now is the time to harvest the rewards!

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Convert a Lucky Break into Positive Change

Lucky break

A Lucky Break!

Imagine you landed a brand new job, won a $100,000, or just got the raise and promotion you have been wanting. You may tell others, “Whew, that was a lucky break!” The world often offers us a shot at a new opportunity, but we don’t always reach for the golden ring. An open mind can convert that moment of opportunity, that lucky break, into positive change.

Fear of Success

Some people are fearful when they succeed. They don’t believe in themselves. When good things happen in their life, they wait to see if others have discovered they are “fake.” People who feel they are not worthy think everyone else has life figured out. Any success they achieve is viewed as a fluke of nature, and will probably never happen again. By fearing the success they crave, any meaningful movement forward becomes an illusion. They are unable to flip a chance of a lifetime into a life of possibilities.

Living in the Past

Many of us still hear voices from the past. Maybe our parents said we failed or that we would never amount to anything. Tuning into old or negative thoughts keeps us captive by clouding our minds. If there is too much baggage rattling around in our brains, it becomes harder to hear the new possibilities. Let’s look at breaking that mindset.

Learn to Say YES!

As long as people deny new experiences, the door to opportunity will stay shut. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” When Lady Luck drops an unexpected gift in your lap, use the chance to create momentum and excitement for the future.

Learn to say yes by changing your mental perspective. If your answer to any question or request is always no, stop and think before you reply. Take a moment to think about the possible outcomes before committing to others. Give yourself the power to visualize different options.

Know Your Value

Examine your value. Explore how to capitalize on your lucky break and spread the abundance to build long term benefits. You got the new job, so now is the time to sign up for the company assisted 401K retirement plan and invest in you. Another important step, set up an automatic deposit to funnel 5% of your salary into a dedicated savings account.

Congratulations, you won $100,000! After you pay the taxes, maybe you invest 10% of the money, quit renting and purchase a new home. Now would a good time to begin a college fund for your children. All of these actions will “pay you back” in the long run.

Finally, you got the raise and the promotion you wanted. Celebrate, go out for dinner and drinks! Continue to live off your old salary. If you have credit card debt, use the overage to pay it off. Open a second savings account to save for travel and your next car – what a treat to pay for a big vacation or a new vehicle with cash!

Stepping Stones of Success

Luck comes to all of us in very small and huge chances. Are you prepared to take advantage of that? A chance to take on more responsibility at work can be your lucky break. Creating new protocols in your industry can boost your career. A side hustle fulfilling a childhood dream can propel a fabulous small business. Be open to the abundance that each of these moments has – you can convert a lucky break into positive change.

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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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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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SPRING CLEANING YOUR FINANCES

Spring Clean 4x4 300 dpiWhat are you waiting for? It’s Time to Spring Clean your Finances! For most people, the idea of climbing Mount Everest is scary. The thought of walking along a narrow trail with a three-thousand-foot cliff at its edge may leave you frozen in your tracks. In a similar scenario, some people are terrified of facing their budgets, their level of spending and how they will live once they have retired.

Most people spend their lives confronting financial fear by ignoring it.

Join me for a quick and easy “Spring Cleaning your Finances challenge! For the next two weeks, I will be sharing easy tips for you to clean out what you don’t need and give you some tools to make the most of the income you have! Clear out the dust, drop that debt and take advantage of #TheMoneyNerve tips to “Spring Clean Your Finances!”

Please like and share the Money Nerve posts and feel free to share some of your favorite tips for saving money. Tag @themoneynerve and use the hashtags #SpringClean #TheMoneyNerve when sharing or posting. On Monday, May 2, one winner will be randomly selected from these social media posts to win a complimentary 30-minute financial session with me via Skype.

Financial fear can make you stop in your tracks. Not taking a look at your account balances, not making any decisions, ignoring your family, and not knowing when to take good advice are a few examples of how people start to freeze up. Now that tax time has ended, it is the perfect opportunity to review, refine and move forward financially. It is smart to re-organize your life: the house, the garage, the medicine cabinet, and your finances on an annual basis. Fine-tuning your goals will help to make the next year easier and more prosperous!

Let’s go!

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!