money

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.

It’s Time To Talk About Sam (Bankman-Fried) and The Crypto Industry

I haven’t discussed cryptocurrency on this blog before, because, while it’s an important topic, it’s something that I couldn’t wholeheartedly endorse. My caution against promoting crypto as an investment vehicle wasn’t misguided: I’d seen enough money scandals to know that banging the drum for anything financial is always done carefully.

Then FTX and Alameda Research collapsed. And at that point, I knew that more discussions around the risks of crypto were worth having.

If you’re unfamiliar with FTX and Alameda and the founder/CEO of both companies, Sam Bankman-Fried, don’t worry. I’ll give you the abbreviated version of what’s happening. FTX was a billion-dollar cryptocurrency trading company that went bankrupt in November 2022. Alameda Research has been accused of market manipulation, profiting from the GameStop stock trading frenzy, and contributing to the volatility and lack of regulation in the cryptocurrency market. Bankman-Fried is charged with eight counts of fraud and will go to trial in October 2023.

The investigations into Alameda started in early 2021, when the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) probed into whether the company was involved in manipulative trading practices on the derivatives market. Specifically, the CFTC is investigating whether the firm used wash trading, a form of market manipulation where an individual or group trades with themselves to create the illusion of market activity, to artificially inflate the value of certain cryptocurrencies.

FTX’s affairs are so bad that the company’s current CEO, John J. Ray III, commented what he observed as regards the state of internal accountability. He stated that he, “had never seen ‘such an utter failure of corporate controls at every level of an organization.’ ” This is coming from a man that was the CEO of Enron after it collapsed in the early 2000s.

Currently, $700 million in assets have been seized from Bankman-Fried, and I anticipate there will be more revelations in the months to come. That being said, I think it’s time to finally talk about crypto and Sam (though, this could be applied broadly to many other founders and CEOs within the crypto world).

The cryptocurrency market is still a relatively new and developing industry, and there is a lack of oversight and protection for investors. Lack of oversight and protection means that there is no recourse when things take unexpected turns: if there is an unlawful loss, there is no one coming to help you. Unless you truly have money to “lose” (and some people do!), crypto is not a sound investment. Between the high volatility, lack of regulation, uncertain long-term value, and lack of real-world utility it is, at best, a high-risk investment. If you’re interested in investing, you may want to consider alternative investments that have a lower risk and greater potential for returns. It’s always important to do your own research and invest only what you can afford to lose. This market is vulnerable to manipulation and fraud, making it far too unsafe for primary investment purposes.

Now, on to Sam: Bankman-Fried is a lesson in the cult of personality. While he is undoubtedly intelligent and capable of growing a billion (!) dollar business, he benefited heavily from cultivating an image of easygoing tech genius. Vox described it this way:

” The media portrayed him as an unassuming, nerdy savant, frequently noting his down-to-earthness, his messy mop of hair, his penchant for wearing T-shirts and shorts, his Toyota Corolla. Investors were enamored of the fact that he wasn’t a buttoned-up entrepreneur; he played computer games during pitch meetings, and like other modern-day founders, his eccentricities were taken as proof of his distinct genius.”

Part of his appeal was that he didn’t appear arrogant, stuffy, or flashy: he was ordinary but had certain quirks that read as “genius”. It’s important to remember that the cult of personality isn’t limited to “shiny” personalities: anyone that charms on a public platform can fall into this broad group. In the end, the unassuming nature was part of a public image that hid poor internal processes and (alleged) fraudulent behavior. It’s a cautionary tale on not believing what we see or hear, and to do our own research and listen to our guts.

I’ve been fascinated with the FTX, Alameda, and Sam Bankman-Fried drama, and I’ve found this case to be full of lessons for everyone. Have you all been following this case? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

The First Step To Earning More Money

It’s the first month of the year. You have a money goal (hopefully an attainable one), you have your steps outlined, and you’re ready to launch. You’re aiming for one thing: more money to fund your dreams. After all, it takes money to make [some of] our dreams come true.

There’s a crucial first step that you need to take in order to earn more money. Most people immediately look for a second job, start applying to new positions, or pick up additional hours at their current job. Others will start having yard sales, falling into MLMs, taking paid surveys, or running to the local plasma center to generate some extra cash.

If you thought that the first step to earning more money is to work more, then you’ve probably spent a lot of time spinning your wheels and making little progress. Yes, you can absolutely earn more money by working more or working harder, but that is rarely a sustainable solution. Your energy and time are finite, and using more of both can leave you depleted.

I propose a gentler – but still effective – way to start on the path to higher earnings. It’s an oft-mentioned step, but I don’t think anyone emphasizes it as the best step to take before taking additional action.

Start your money making journey with two things: a skills audit and a values assessment. Most of the missteps that happen with side hustles, second jobs, and increased work hours involve leaning upon weaker or nonexistent skills, or, even worse, in scenarios where there are value mismatches. Knowing your skills and your values will ensure that you won’t pursue money-making opportunities that leave you frustrated, exhausted, or unfulfilled.

Is making more money supposed to be a fulfilling experience? Yes, absolutely! If you are having a miserable or even a lackluster time, then it’s not the right money-making option for you! There are so many ways to make money that are fun, fulfilling and enjoyable: you DO NOT have to suffer through miserable jobs just to make extra cash.

So, before you start the job hunt, or sign up for extra shifts, write down all of your skills, and determine which ones you most enjoy using. Then, get clear on your values, write them down, and only accept jobs or opportunities that resonate with both of these lists. If you’re tired of suffering to make money, or if you need help with getting a clear understanding of your skills and values, check out this page for support.

Have you ever done a skills audit or values assessment? Let me know about your experience in the comments below!

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!

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!