finance

3 Things To Do In February For Financial Health

Hello February!

On my end, it’s been a rather . . . intense start to this new year. I’m looking forward to calmer days in the weeks to come. That being said, I want to encourage you all to continue taking steps to improve or protect your financial health, even when life is hectic. This month, I wanted to focus on a few things that can be done quickly and that don’t take a lot of time. Taking care of your finances doesn’t require a ton of time-consuming projects.

Here are three things you can do to stay on top of your finances in February:

  • Pull your free annual credit reports. Annual credit reports are a right. This website will allow you to get free copies of your credit reports from the three reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) for free. Just because you pull the reports doesn’t mean that you have to analyze them today: put them aside until you have the time to review them. If it helps, schedule the time needed to review them, so this task doesn’t fall through the cracks. Also, Equifax is currently allowing up to SIX free reports per year for anyone within the United States (these extra annual reports will be available until 2026). So after you make corrections to your report, you can allow a month or two, then pull the Equifax report to see if the changes are displaying.
  • File Form 1096 for information returns. If you or your business made payments that should be reported on 1099s, 1098s, W-2s, and a number of other information returns, then you have to file this form. Depending on the number of forms that need to be filed, this may not necessarily be a quick task. But it’s the beginning of the month: if you do paper mailed information returns, it’s still early enough to order this form from IRS (you can’t use the online version for submission). Form 1096 is the cover sheet for hard-copy information returns: you simply have to count how many of each information return you’re sending into IRS, then jot it down on the form. If you don’t have to file information returns, then of course you can skip this tip.
  • Move your savings to an account with a better interest rate. Bankrate has a listing of the current rates of both physical and digital banks offering high yield savings accounts. Do your research then move your coins.

That’s it for February: short and sweet, because your time is precious. Talk to you all soon!

What You Don’t Know About Industries That Attract The Ultra Wealthy

One way to acclimate ourselves to wealth is to become familiar with the patterns and traits of the wealthy. I enjoy reading research from a variety of sources, but one of my favorites is Wealth-X. This organization publishes several reports throughout the year, with information about the wealthy, including where they live, how they spend their time, and how to best connect with them if you would like to make them your clients and customers.

Recently, Wealth-X published their 2022 World Ultra Wealth Report, which gives a high level profile of the wealthiest individuals in the world. One of the fascinating parts of this report is the section on wealthy women. This is where I learned a less-known – but crucial – fact about the industries that attract the ultra wealthy.

On the whole, we tend to think of the wealthy in a very generic way. However, gender and source of wealth are highly influential when it comes to the industries that most attract the wealthy. According to the report, 55% of ultra wealthy women inherited some, if not all, of their wealth. On the other hand, 25% of ultra wealthy men inherited some or all of their wealth (75% are self-made multimillionaires). This exposes another trend: proportionally, individuals that earn some or all of their ultra wealth tend to be less interested in industries that don’t generate more profit for them. In the report, the top five industries that attract ultra wealthy men are: banking and finance, business and consumer services, real estate, manufacturing, and technology. Meanwhile, the top five industries that attract ultra wealthy women are: non-profit and social organizations, banking and finance, business and consumer services, real estate, and hospitality and entertainment.

This report shows that painting the wealthy with a broad brush will likely result in reaching inaccurate conclusions, or putting your focus on the wrong sectors. If your ideal client is a wealthy woman , it’s worth noting that more than half of them are heiresses, and thus won’t relate to the struggles of building their entire wealth from the ground up. So, if your product or service is designed to appeal to the bootstrapper, less than half of your female targets will resonate with this message. Likewise, if your target customer is a wealthy man, focusing solely on trust fund kids will reduce your target market by 75%! Most of your ultra-wealthy male clients are focused on generating more money, as opposed to finding ways to create social change through their spending. How the wealthy got their money reveals pertinent clues about where they spend their time and energy, and with this information, you can craft products, services, and marketing that are irresistible to your clients and customers.

That was just one of my takeaways from the 2022 World Ultra Wealth Report. If you enjoy analyses like these, let me know, and I’ll be sure to share more of them in the future! Also, if you want a breakthrough from your current financial situation, and a smooth transition into a new income bracket, contact me for a skills audit and values assessment. With these two reports, I show you the intersection between what you do well, what you enjoy, and what matters most to you. The sweet spot between these things is where money magic happens. Click here to learn more about these reports.

How Ditching Your Money Resolutions Can Make You Successful

Happy Tuesday! Did you all know that today – January 17 – is annual Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day? I didn’t know this was a thing until last week, and, I have to admit, I found it humorous, considering most people end up ditching their resolutions right around this time of the month. In the spirit of this lighthearted “holiday”, I thought it would be good to discuss something in a similar vein.

In my humble opinion, ditching money resolutions can be the first step to financial success.

Now, before you all think I’ve lost my mind, please let me explain. I, Tia Delano, absolutely adore New Year’s Day, and all of the traditions involved with it, including making resolutions. But I’m also aware that the pressure of starting a new year can make us hard on ourselves, and can cause us to view our previous missteps with a much more critical – and less understanding – eye. We often use the New Year holiday to lean into our tendencies to view ourselves much more harshly than we view others. And, the truth is, looking at our choices without giving ourselves grace is a recipe for frustration. That frustration leads us to overestimating what we can do in one year (credit to Bill Gates for this quote).

The end result of harsh self critiques is astronomically ambitious goals that require supernatural focus, drastically increased resources, incredible luck, extraordinary commitment, and a host of other underdeveloped and uncontrollable attributes. With these sorts of goals, it’s very difficult to accomplish what we set out to do, because we lack some (or most!) of what we need to be successful. That’s why I propose that you ditch the big money resolutions and, instead, commit to incremental actions that can be completed easily and build momentum in service to your big goals.

If you recall, last week, I posted my big, dreamy financial goals. But, you may have noticed that the goals were ambitious, but not dramatic. I didn’t choose goals that would set me up for failure: I don’t overestimate what can happen in 2023, nor do I encourage anyone to set goals that will require exhausting, unsustainable action in order to achieve them. If you set a goal, it should stretch you, not snap you in half.

If you’re unsure if you have an exhausting goal, try breaking down the steps to complete it: break it down by quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily actions. If the daily actions involve more than two or three steps, each day, for 365 days, it’s safe to say that this goal may be larger than what you can manage at this point. I advise anyone to only commit to one small action a day (preferably taking less than 15 minutes) until you have created a habit that can be expanded in small, manageable increments (3-5 minutes per increase). If it takes more than two small daily actions to reach your goal, then maybe your goal can be revised to be more manageable and attainable.

The objective of any of this is to experience success, and if you lay down those big goals, you may find yourself creating success faster than you could have ever imagined!

My Big, Dreamy Financial Goals for 2023

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post discussing how to plan your financial year, and the strategy behind reaching your big, dreamy goals in 2023. At the end of the post, I admitted that I didn’t have any goals for the upcoming year (quite surprising for me, the perpetual planner and consummate dreamer). I promised I would come back and share those goals when I understood what I wanted in 2023.

Well, here I am: I identified my goals, and I’m ready to share! Here are my 2023 financial goals:

  • Increase my income by 25% (using last year’s gross salary as a baseline)
  • Monetize my YouTube channel
  • Average 25 book sales per week
  • Remit 4 additional mortgage payments

I’ll add more details as I continue fleshing out all of the steps I need to take in order to ensure that I hit my goals. However, even now I can confirm that the goals I have feed into one another: monetized content and consistent book sales will feed into the overall income increase, which will make it possible to remit additional mortgage payments (shortening the length of my mortgage and freeing up resources to put towards my next large purchase). I have many other goals for the year, but these are the big ones when it comes to finances.

Here’s the thing about setting goals: they can be as big or as small as you like, so long as they delight you. If a small goal feeds into a bigger one, that’s fine, but a small goal – that isn’t necessarily part of a larger plan – is nothing to despise. If it’s what you want, then it’s worth pursuing, regardless of how big or small it is.

I’ll aim for quarterly updates, to show you all how I’m progressing toward my goals. I’d love to hear all about your goals: please leave me a comment, so I can cheer you on!

3 Things To Do in January for Financial Health

Welcome to 2023! I hope that the end of last year and the beginning of this year was enjoyable for you all. In the Mid-Atlantic region, we were delighted to get some warmer weather just in time for the New Year. It was a pleasant change from the bitterly cold temperatures we had during Christmas weekend. As the clock switched from 2022 to 2023, there were many things to celebrate and appreciate: I count all of you, dear readers, as blessings.

To start your financial year right, here are a few things that you can prioritize for January. It’s early enough to get a great headstart on a lot of tasks that can feel overwhelming once the calmness of the holiday break transitions back to business as usual.

  • Continue refining your financial vision and commit to eliminating any habits that don’t serve your financial health. I’d advise you reject the New Year resolution mentality (unless it works for you: in that case, do it!) If resolutions haven’t been successful for you in the past, it’s time to try something different. Instead of coming up with a large, dramatic change for the year, why not just spend a little time refining your vision for the year (I discuss this vision in December’s financial health recommendations). Even if you did a great job of creating your financial vision last year, or in other years past, it’s still a good exercise to review what’s working, see what isn’t working for you, and make sure what you’re currently doing is putting you on the path to what you desire. If you identify any sabotaging activities or habits, commit to eliminating the one that is easiest to drop. If you focus on dropping a simple but damaging habit, then you can get a quick “win” that gives you the momentum to take on bigger challenges as they arise.
  • Download a tax calendar and start putting the dates on your digital and paper calendars now. It’s so easy to pull up the calendars, print them, and forget them. Don’t do that! You can find IRS’s calendar here. You can find additional federal tax calendars for specific professions and businesses here, and you can search for “tax calendar” on your respective state and local websites to see additional dates that need to be recorded on your business and personal calendars. If you pay a financial consultant, accountant, or tax preparation service to manage your numbers, you can help them to help you, by knowing when certain payments or forms are due to be submitted. Little known fact: one of the penalties that IRS regularly enforces is failure to file timely, and it is one of their heaviest (non-criminal) penalties. You can avoid it just by keeping up with the dates!
  • Pay your last estimated tax payment for tax year 2022. This payment is due to be submitted by January 17 this year. Use Form 1040-ES to submit it. If you had a particularly successful final quarter of 2022, consider adding a little more money to your payment, to help prevent underpayment penalties.

Those are the three tips for January, just in time to help you all hit the ground running! Have a great day, and I’ll talk to you all soon.

Planning Your Financial Year

As we draw closer to the end of 2022, there is a feeling of hope in the air: tomorrow always holds the potential for us to be better, happier, and more successful than we were yesterday. One of the biggest advantages of embracing hopeful energy is that it motivates us to plan and prepare for the future we desire. With hope on your side, anything is possible!

With that in mind, I’m excited to share with you some easy steps for planning your financial year. It may seem daunting at first, but it’s surprisingly easy and quick to plan a financial year that will bring you joy instead of tears. The key to planning anything is breaking it down the big goals into smaller, more manageable pieces. Then, once those pieces are defined, take action daily in order to make your dreams come true. I’m getting ahead of myself: let’s start at the beginning.

Ask yourself, What do I want? Vague goals get vague results. Get specific and stop excluding yourself from your desires: eliminate the word “can’t” from your vocabulary. If the goal feels so huge that you doubt that it can happen, then take it down half a notch, but never make it so realistic that it doesn’t excite you. Your goals should light you up: if it feels lackluster, it isn’t big enough. Big, dreamy, specific goals are what you need to keep you motivated throughout the year.

Ask yourself, What will it take to get what I want? Break your big, dreamy goals into smaller, specific steps. If any part of your goals rely on luck, specify that, but also focus most of your attention on the actions that are within your control. If you identify a step that feels a bit overwhelming, then break that down into a much smaller, more manageable sub-steps. The objective of this exercise is to make your big goals feel obtainable (because they are!)

Ask yourself, What can I do today to get closer to what I want? Consistent, daily action is what takes a dream or plan and turns it into reality. The biggest problem I’ve seen people encounter on the path to their goals is believing that they need to take grand actions in order to make progress. If you wait for the right time to make big moves, you’ll find yourself frustrated, stuck, and feeling like a failure. Rarely do we get a “perfect” time to take big actions: we either sneak up on our goals or we hope for the stars to align before we make moves (I don’t recommend that you do the latter).

I’m still thinking of my big, dreamy financial goal for 2023: once I’ve identified that goal, I’ll share it here, and give you all my process for achieving it. Look out for those posts in the next few weeks!

I’d love to hear what your financial goals for 2023 are: please let me know all about them in the comments below!

3 Things To Do In December for Financial Health

The end of the year is almost here! This is the month leading into my favorite holiday, New Year’s Day! There’s something so exciting about opening a brand new chapter, and I’m thrilled every time January 1st rolls around.

After having several busy seasons, as well as a few slumps or slower moments throughout the year, you’re probably just ready to bring in 2023 quietly. I don’t blame you for wanting a tame intro to the new year, but there are a couple of things you can prioritize in December, to set yourself up for success in 2023 and beyond!

Here are my finance tips for December. These work well for both tax practitioners, business owners, or even employees that are looking for ways to increase their wealth now and in the future. To your continued success!

  • Send thank you cards and holiday cards to clients and customers. Sending seasons greetings, as well as heartfelt expressions of gratitude, is a wonderful gesture for everyone. The goodwill is multiplied if you’re an entrepreneur and do this with your clients and customers. If you aren’t a tax preparer or a business owner, then this is a fantastic practice to develop when showing appreciation to the people that you employ (think hairstylists and nail technicians, postal workers that you interact with regularly, childcare providers, housekeepers and other in-house staff, lawn maintenance workers, etc.,). Gratitude is an energy that always brings in abundance, so express thanks often.
  • Create and/or refine your business vision for 2023. If you haven’t done a business vision board, this is a good time to do it! I love how vision boards can help you crystallize the ideas, goals, and aspirations you have for your business. If you aren’t interested in a vision board, then writing down the vision is also powerful and can move you closer to your desires. If you’ve already done one or both of these steps, this time of year is also fantastic for reviewing those previous notes or boards, and seeing if it still aligns with you. If so, great! See if there is a way to expand on what you already have. If your previous vision no longer aligns, then refine that vision until it resonates with you again.
  • Schedule business activities for the first quarter of 2023. It’s never too early to start planning for the upcoming weeks and months, so set aside a little time this month to schedule things that you know you’ll need to handle in January and February. Take that scheduling time out to March, if it feels good. It’ll feel great to know that you’ve already gotten a head-start on the next year, and it will save you some time and frustration at the beginning of the year, when everyone else is scheduling activities and taking the best available time slots!

Those are my end of the year finance tips! I’d love to hear what money-related things you like to do in December in the comments below!

3 Things To Do In November for Financial Health

Welcome to November! We’re on the cusp of the holiday season, which means there will be more time to spend with our loved ones and more plans to make as we wrap up the year.

This is one of my favorite times of year: while summer is my favorite season, November is full of exciting energy as it is the last month before the final month of the year. This time feels full of possibility: what will happen before we get swept up in the activities of December? We get to decide, for ourselves, what we do with this last dance before the end of the year.

With less than 2 months until the end of the year, this is a fantastic time to take inventory of anything that is unfinished from earlier this year. For this month, I recommend reviews and automation. My three financial tips for November:

  • Review current health insurance selections and adjust accordingly. For many employers, November is the final month to make any changes to health insurance selections before being locked in for the next year. So this is a great time to review your current insurance plan and see if you are getting the most out of your health insurance, as well as whether you need the amount of coverage you’re currently paying for. Further inspection may reveal that you are under- or over-insured, and you should absolutely choose a plan that suits your needs for your current phase of life.
  • Identify any tasks that you can pre-schedule/automate throughout the end of the year (and spilling over into the new year), then do it. During the last several weeks of the year, it can be easy to overlook tasks that need to be handled, and the price that comes from forgetfulness (usually in the form of late fees or decreased credibility) isn’t worth it. Take time to see which items need to be automated – even if it’s just for a few months – and set up those automations/schedules/alerts now, while you can. A few moments of preparation can mean huge savings for you!
  • Review your professional credentials and schedule any necessary continuing professional education (CPE/CE) courses. I mentioned the need to schedule CPE/CE classes during the summer slump that many tax practitioners experience. But, if you missed that post, now is also a good time to schedule those courses before the end of the year. Most professional credentials have annual requirements for maintaining those licenses, so the last thing you want is to let the end of the year arrive and you’re a few credits short. Schedule those now, so that you won’t have to rush around and find the courses in December, when many CPE/CE courses have limited options (because so many people wait until the last minute to do it!)

Those are the finance tips for November. Let me know if you’ve done any of these already, and how that worked out for you, in the comments below. Take care!

3 Things To Do In October for Financial Health

Welcome to October! As we step into the season associated with cooler weather and harvest time, it’s time to enjoy this break from the long, hot days of summer.

While autumn isn’t my favorite season, it is a great time to get certain things done before the end of the year. October marks the last quarter of the year, and it’s a perfect time for a bit of increased activity, especially since many businesses end their fiscal tax years at the end of September. Careful planning and execution in October, November and December can set businesses up for success in the months to follow.

Whether you have a calendar year or fiscal year schedule for your business, or if you have no business at all, there are a few things that you may want to do in October that can help improve your financial health. Here are some tips for this month:

  • Consider the charitable contributions that you want to make before the end of the year. With the focus on multiple charitable causes, heritage recognition and awareness (October is the month for Breast Cancer Awareness, National ADD/ADHD Awareness, Filipino American Heritage, LGBT History and Down Syndrome Awareness, just to name a few!), this is the perfect time to think about what you want to give to the charitable organizations of your choice. If you itemize, this could be a wonderful way to reduce your taxable income. If you don’t itemize on your tax returns, this may be not helpful to you as far as taxes go, since the current exception ($300 in charitable contributions are deductible for nonitemizers in tax year 2021) is set to expire at the end of the year, unless Congress intervenes.
  • Check your tax deadlines and start working on items that need to be completed before the 17th. Several major tax deadlines occur this month, so you may want to review your documents and see what may be due in the next few weeks.
  • Consider adjusting your withholding so that you have more income available during the holiday (peak travel/shopping) season. If you always get a refund and have never adjusted your withholding to get a little more of your money back with each paycheck, this is a good time to figure out if you want to update your W-4 (federal withholding form) so you can have more of your income now, instead of having to wait for your tax refund in the upcoming year. It’s a calculation you may want to discuss with a tax professional, so you don’t create a tax liability due to miscalculation.

Those are the tips for October! Are there any other things that you plan to do this month to improve your financial health? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

5 Income Sources You Can Create For Yourself Now

Happy Finance Friday! I hope you all had a great, prosperous week. If not, then I hope this post gives you some ideas for turning your money story around, and for majorly upleveling your finances.

Many of the discussions around money center around making more (which is what I’ll be talking about today) and spending less (to be discussed soon). These are the cornerstones to creating financial freedom, so the quicker you can implement them, the better your results. But when it comes to quickly implementing money-making strategies, there is usually this looming sense of overwhelm and a lack of clarity regarding where to start first.

Never fear: here are 5 income sources that you can create quickly, so you can start making more money NOW. I’m keeping it simple, giving you links and sources that you can explore right now, to start making money quickly and to give your finances a boost.

Tutoring – There are many online tutoring platforms, but I recommend Cambly for its ease of use. Once you’ve signed up and your profile is approved, you can sign up for Priority Hours, which guarantee that you will get priority student placements (basically, students are routed to you first) and you are guaranteed to receive partial payment for the hour, even if you don’t get any students routed to you (this is rare, but it can happen). It pays about $10 per hour, so it won’t make you a millionaire, but if you do one hour a day, that’s $300 per month that you can use to treat yourself, knock out debt, or invest in your future.

Make printables – if you’re creative, this is a fabulous way to make money without having to keep a bunch of physical inventory. Design cute templates and printable documents using free online software (like Canva), then upload the designs to your own website or to another platform (like Etsy). You can be making money within a few hours, if this interests you.

eBay store ownership – Sign up for an eBay account, take pictures of your stuff, then upload and set your price. Yes, there’s a little more to it (writing out descriptions, figuring out what has to happen once the items are purchased, etc.). However, this is one of the quickest ways to make money with what you already have.

Personal assistant work – Fiverr, TaskRabbit, and Upwork are just three of the platforms where you can advertise your skills as a personal assistant. Yes, even TaskRabbit has options beyond yardwork and furniture moving: you can find gigs for errands and clerical tasks. Once you set up your profiles on these websites, you can start making money.

Host virtual cocktails – This is great if you’re social and want to quickly monetize your popularity. Come up with a fun cocktail idea, set up a FB event page for it, work out the Zoom (or other meeting platform) details, then start selling tickets. Yes, it will take a few moments to set up a way to receive your payments, but that’s what PayPal, Zelle and CashApp are for. If you’re a fabulous hostess, you can make a memoral event happen from the comfort of your home.

These are just a few ideas for generating money quickly so you can start hitting your financial goals. Look out for another post in a few weeks, discussing 5 ways to spend less money, so you can hold on to more of what you earn. Have a great weekend!