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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?

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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!

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GO the DISTANCE

Change your mindsetAsk yourself where you would like to be in one year or five years. Would you like to be free of credit card debt? Would you like to have traveled the world? Would you like to have put away money in a retirement account? Would you like to change your spending habits? Would you like to see 50,000 dollars in savings?

Once you know where you would like to be, state your goal. A year from now, I’d like to stop using credit cards. In five years, I’d like to be credit card debt free. A year from now, I want to go to school for additional training. In five years, I’d like to be in another career or own my own company.

Quiet the censor in your mind and just let your imagination travel where it likes. After allowing yourself this quiet time every day, you may be surprised to see where your imagination takes you! Take advantage of planning ahead then every three months or so, sit down and adjust your budget. You can still get to where you want to go, you are just allowing yourself to keep it real and tweak the plan, as needed.

Finances will always be a part of your life—not something you can ever move past. Confront your financial fears and set aside an hour per week to update your records. If you use computer software, download your bank statement and expenses. Balance your checkbook. Keeping up with your money each week for a small amount of time will help you stay on track for your bigger goals.

Make an effort to spend responsibly. Make a list of all bills you get each month, and then check them off your list as you pay them. That way, if you didn’t receive a bill, you still realize it has to be paid. Spreadsheets are a great way to keep track of expenditures. Once a year, list your assets and debts to get a sense of your net worth. Now you have a true road map of where you have been and can move more efficiently toward your current financial destination!

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OVERWHELMED?

3x3 Nepal Mt Everest basecampIt’s important to consider the pace you set to achieve your financial goals. If you set an unrealistic pace, you’re more likely to become overwhelmed or discouraged.

When I first arrived at Lukla, Nepal and prepared to make my ascent to Mount Everest Base Camp, the goal was ten days and over nine thousand vertical feet away.

I would have been kidding myself to think it could be done all at once!

Initially, the plan was to climb about one thousand feet in altitude, acclimate, and continue to the top incrementally. The first couple of days were pretty extreme. The thought of hiking ten hours per day over a challenging, seemingly endless path was overwhelming. My group began to convince itself that it was too difficult and considered turning back.

I wasn’t having it. I set my watch so that we would only focus on hiking for one hour with a water break at thirty minutes. We would not even talk about an eight-hour hike or what the rest of the day looked like. We wouldn’t talk about what “ifs” (for example: What if it gets dark? What if something terrible happens to us?). Everyone agreed to hike for only one hour and focus only on that one-hour!

Once we had gotten a few one-hour hikes under our belts with water breaks on the half hour, the group members stopped needing to take a break every thirty minutes. They felt they could easily continue, and they wanted to keep hiking for longer chunks of time. I remember one day specifically when the peak seemed miles and miles away. Because of our false perception, it appeared unreachable. So I set my watch for an hour, and we started hiking. Within forty-five minutes, we had arrived. The destination was actually closer than we realized.

In the same way, financial security may seem like it is unattainable, but you may simply be in need of a little perspective. The cure for being financially overwhelmed is persistence and knowledge. A robust savings account is achieved one step at a time. Put away ten dollars per paycheck knowing that, over time, that will add up to a large sum. In that way, you can create a new habit.You are often closer to success than you think you are!

If you have an area of finances that overwhelms you, surround yourself with books on the subject or go online to reputable sites. If you are more inclined to a discussion, try to find people who can provide strength in your area of weakness.

Financial stability may not happen overnight. By setting goals and starting the journey, you may find that you are only a short distance away from relief. Just put one foot in front of the other and get moving!

Turn your overwhelming feelings around:
• Persist.
• Know where you are and where you want to be.
• Learn the financial terrain.

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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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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