New Year Greetings

I wanted to extend an early New Year greeting to you today. I am taking a little break and spending time with the family, so I won’t have a new blog post until the 2nd week in January.

I wanted to thank you for your support this past year. I appreciate that you take the time to read what I have to share regarding the management of your money. My commitment is to come back strong in 2014 with more Help and Hope for Your Finances!

In the mean time, you can catch-up on some of my most recent work:

 

Happy New Year 2014!

The Lottery Won’t Be Your Christmas Miracle

The Lottery Won't Be Your Christmas Miracle

Did you hear? The second largest jackpot in Nationwide Mega Millions history ($636M) will be drawn Tuesday night (Dec-17-2013). That’s about half of $1B. As it usually happens with the lottery, the bigger the prize, the more people get enticed to play.

This happens despite the enormous odds against winning. Recently the process has been altered to make it harder for anyone person to win. The odds have gone from 1 in 56 to 1 in 75.

This rush to play the lotto also happens in spite of the mostly terrible history of lottery winners. Winning a large amount of money can spell disaster for a person when they lack the wisdom to handle their finances in the right way.

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So, why do people still try the lottery? I think it’s because deep down, we all want a quick solution to our problems. We want to lose weight without the proper diet and exercise. We want a great relationship without putting in the time to get to know the other person.

In terms of money, we all want that Christmas miracle that will solve all of our financial problems. If we are honest, we all have thought about what we would do with $1M. Imagine having the opportunity of winning $636M.

Now, I don’t play the lottery because I think it’s a waste of money and time. If you are planning to buy a ticket, it’s your money. But I want you to think about something else while you wait for the drawing.

Instead of playing the almost impossible odds of the lottery, why don’t you decide what you could do to improve your financial situation?

  • If you want more income, what are you doing to make yourself more valuable at work? As someone has said, your salary increase will become effective when you become effective.
  • If you don’t like your job, what are you doing to have a different career track 1 year from now, 3 years from now, 5 years from now?
  • If you need more knowledge, what books are you reading right now?
  • What are your money goals for 2014?

In essence, you can play the lottery and hope you hit the jackpot. Given the odds, it would be indeed a Christmas miracle.

But achieving financial success is not a matter of miracles. It involves determination, hard work, and persistence.

Question: What will you today to improve your financial situation for tomorrow?

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5 Mistakes Couples Make With Money

5 Mistakes Couples Make with MoneyAre you married or are you planning to be married soon? How would you like to avoid the pitfalls couples typically face in money management?

If you are married, the only way to win with your money is to work together with your spouse.

Differences and arguments over the handling of money are one of the leading causes of divorce. Healthy finances lead to healthy marriages.

You can take some steps to ensure you and your spouse have a great financial future. You can avoid these 5 Common Mistakes Couples Make with Money:

1. Your pronouns have not changed

You still have discussions such as “my income” or “your debt”. It is very likely that one of you makes more money than the other spouse. It is also quite possible one of you brought more debt to the marriage. That does not matter.

After you say “I do” you should change your pronouns from “my” and “yours” to “we” and “ours”. Your sentences should sound like this: “We have debt” and “We have a household income”.

If you are not working on your finances as a team you can’t expect to win.

2. You have not combined your finances

You are keeping separate savings and checking accounts. This is a reflection of how you view the finances. You may think is wise to “split the bills” so you can do what you like with the rest of “your” income.

The reality is, this is a sign that there is no trust built between you and your spouse when it comes to money.

Unless there is a major issue (such as addictions to drugs/alcohol/gambling), you need to open the books and then combine the books. Put it all on the table.

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3. You don’t work on a budget together

In order to win with money, you need to live on a budget. In order to win with money as a couple, you need to work on a budget together.

One of you will be more equipped to prepare the budget every month, but both of you must have a voice and a vote on your monthly spending plan.

When you agree on a budget you are agreeing on what happens with your money. It gives you an objective way to handle the finances every month.

4. You don’t make major financial decisions together

This situation may arise when one of the spousal partners “feels” they should be able to just buy what they want, when they want without input from the other partner.

The husband may feel entitled to purchasing a brand new car without input from the wife. The wife may feel entitled to spending $2K on a birthday party for the kids without checking with the husband.

In either case, the lines of communication are broken. There is nothing wrong with spending money as long as a) you have the cash to spend and b) you are in agreement with your spouse.

5. You don’t have shared goals for the future

What’s more important? Paying off the house or saving for retirement? What about saving for the kids’ college education? Or what do we teach our kids about money and how do we do it?

If you have not discussed your fears and your goals for the future with each other, now it would be a good time. You need common, shared goals for your money.

You are building a life together; surely you can work on your money and your future together.

In order to win with your money you have to be honest with each other, patient with each other, and you have to work with each other.

There is no other way to win with your finances. If you are not working with each other you are working against each other. You need each other.

Start working together today!

9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.
10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NASB)

 Question: What’s keeping you from working with your spouse on your finances?

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10 Goals for Your Money in 2014

10 Goals For Your Money in 2014Well here we are. It’s the last month of 2013. I want to be one of the very first to wish you a very Merry Christmas.

And before we get too busy with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, let me ask you a question. How did you do with your money goals this year?

Yes, yes. I know I am meddling a little bit. By the way, I am asking myself that question as well. At the beginning of 2013 I set 4 specific goals for our finances this year. We are going to end up meeting 2 of them, getting close on a third one, and missing one completely.

I don’t want to be the Grinch who stole Christmas but this is a very busy season for all of us. Time will get away from you and me and in less than 30 days a New Year will start. I want you to have a plan and a set of objectives for your money.

Nothing ever gets done well without a plan and a target and that includes the management of your finances. Your money goals should be specific, measurable, realistic, and include a target date.

So, without any further delay here are 10 Goals for Your Money in 2014:

Budget

  1. Live on a monthly budget for 90 days (Jan-Mar 2014). If you have never lived on a budget before, it will take you about 3 months to master this new skill.
  2. Start using a cash envelope for one of your spending categories (e.g. groceries) in January. Using cash helps you control your spending. Cash is finite but when we use plastic, we tend to spend more.

 

Savings

  1. Finish your emergency fund by the end of March 2014. If you still have consumer debt, you should have $1,000 in a beginner’s emergency fund. If you are out of consumer debt, you need 3-6 months of expenses in your fully funded emergency fund.
  2. If you are out of consumer debt and have your fully funded emergency fund, ensure you are contributing 15% of your annual income into retirement by the end of 2014.

 

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Debt

  1. Try living without using a credit card for 90 days (Jan-Mar 2014). If you are on a budget, and living on less than you make, you don’t need a credit card.
  2. Pay off your 3 smallest debts in your debt snowball by the end of June 2014.
  3. Review your credit report by the end of January 2014. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the 3 credit bureaus once a year.

 

Protecting the Household

  1. Complete an insurance needs assessment by the end of April 2014. There are 7 types of insurance that are required to protect your financial household. Make sure you have the right coverage to protect yourself and your family.
  2. Complete the preparation of a will by the end of February 2014. If you have a will, review it for any changes required due to any changes in your family situation.

 

Stewardship/Giving

  1. If you are a Christian, begin tithing to your local church this year. For a Christian, this is not a salvation issue, it’s an obedience issue. If you are already tithing, look for ways to increase your giving. If you are not a person of faith, you can still find someone who needs your help. Ensure giving it’s an element of your financial plan for 2014.

 

I have given you some ideas for goals that cover all areas of your financial plan. But remember: it’s your money and it’s your life. So it’s up to you.

Make adjustments to the items on this list and add to the list. But please, don’t begin 2014 without a plan for your money. Do it today!

Question: What other financial goals would you like to meet in 2014?

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