tips

3 Things to Do in August for Financial Health

One of the things that my friends regularly do is ask me about what they can do to turn their money around. Most of them have lots of money coming in, but they are unclear about how to invest for growth. Or, they are living well under their means but they want more fun in their finances (less austerity, more joy). Still, some don’t have enough money but they are open to making changes that will allow them to increase their income, decrease their expenses, and start living the life they desire.

For that reason, I’m going to start sharing monthly tips to help with financial health. These are things that I’ve done, or that I’ve recommended, that have helped my friends to get more bang for their bucks, as well as created opportunities for them to grow their finances. For the month of August, I’m focusing on stopping the leaks, or reducing the unnecessary outflow of money. If you can stop costly expenses, then you can save more money and (hopefully!) create the kind of wealth that supports the lifestyle you desire. On that note, let’s look at three things you can do in August for your financial health:

  • Review your withholdings and make appropriate adjustments. If you are a W-2 employee or 1099 recipient that has withholding calculated by the payer, then review your withholdings and see if you need to adjust them. If you tend to owe taxes when you file, then consider holding out a little more money as a pre-payment toward your tax liability. However, if you tend to get a refund (especially if it’s a large refund every year), consider having less money taken out of every check, so you end up having access to more of your money as you earn it. If you want some additional clarity on how to do this, I can make a guide for your convenience (just let me know in the comments below!)
  • Request lowered interest rates on current lines of credit. You may be surprised at what your creditors will do for you, especially if you have a great payment history. Requesting lowered interest can mean more money in your pocket, so ask!
  • Eliminate one (or more!) unused or underused subscription or membership. Last week’s post mentioned one way to save money on memberships, but if you have unused or underused subscriptions or memberships that you’re paying for, the best thing you can do is cancel them and save your money. But, along with canceling those subscriptions or memberships, immediately make a plan for what you’ll do with the money saved. If you don’t, that money will likely still be wasted.

A key point that is often missed when talking about saving money is finding the best way to use those savings. Most of the time, we think we will put that money into a savings account, which may grow and eventually offer a bit of a financial cushion. But the truth is, the money that is freed up by making small adjustments is often squandered. As soon as you know how much money you will save by making small changes, you should quickly designate where that money will go, and put that money where it needs to be without haste Will you put it into a savings account that has a higher yield? Get a clear focus for what that account is for, so that you aren’t tempted to spend the money whenever you’re feeling bored or frustrated. Will you put it in an investment account? Make it an account that makes it a little difficult for you to make frivolous withdrawals. Will you use it to reduce debt? Set up or modify your auto-payment, and increase your current payment account by the amount you’re saving by trimming expenses elsewhere.

Those are three tips (and actually, a fourth tip, too, if you include the savings designation idea!) that can be done during the month, to bring you a little closer to the financial condition you desire. Have a great day, and look out for more tips in the months to come!

Take Advantage of the Summer Slowdown – Major Money Tips

Hello friends! We are roughly 6 weeks post June 15th, the most recent major IRS deadline for a large group of taxpayers. This time of year is generally among the slowest for tax professionals, and the perfect time for taking a well-earned vacation. Likewise, many business owners that have non-seasonal businesses may experience a slump in activity, as well.

Aside from going somewhere lovely for a vacay, there are a few other ways to take advantage of the summer slowdown. When enjoying this downtime, it’s easy to forget that there are things that can be done now, in order to make the remainder of the year a bit easier on you. If you’re lucky, taking action now may create some additional pockets of downtime even during the busier seasons! Here are some things both tax practitioners as well as taxpayers can do during this quiet period:

  • Start compiling the documents needed to complete the next scheduled quarterly estimated tax payment (for people that do not pay taxes through wages – the next quarterly due date is September 15, 2022)
  • Contact any clients that have filed extensions, and provide a quick checklist of documents to have before completing their returns. If they need to request missing documents, this is a perfect time to do so. If you’re not a practitioner, then reviewing IRS’s records for your most recent tax year is also a good idea: as a taxpayer, it’s helpful to know what figures and income statements IRS has, so that you can ensure that you have all of the documents reported under your tax ID number.
  • Conduct a review of 2022 business activities up to this point, and identify 1-3 areas for improvement. Come up with one small, concrete step that can be taken today, to move toward that improvement.
  • Reach out to clients to express appreciation for continued support (this applies to tax practitioners as well as individuals that have goods- or service-based businesses).
  • Start and finish reading one book related to your area of expertise. Select another book or two to read during the last 4 months of the year.
  • Digitize any paper records that have been missed, and save these documents in secure ways.
  • Find one thing to outsource either for the summer or the upcoming fall and winter seasons. Set up a payment arrangement to cover the outsourced service until the end of the year.
  • Set your remainder of the year goals (September to December goals). Get a head-start on some of those goals now.
  • Review your paper calendars (or digital calendars) for the past three months. Complete anything that was inadvertently missed.
  • Create a business vision board (I’ll be upgrading mine and sharing it in a future post).
  • Write out your business vision for 2023, and use the remainder of the summer, as well as the upcoming seasons, to arrange your affairs for a smooth transition into your vision.
  • Check on the completion status for required continuing professional education courses (CPE). Schedule and take those necessary CPEs while you have free time.
  • Review your current memberships and affiliations to see if you’re taking advantage of all of the benefits of being a member. If not, start using those perks today. If the organizations you’ve joined aren’t providing enough benefit, reconsider whether you should remain a member (cancel memberships if appropriate).

I am already scheduling most of these activities for myself, because these are tasks that I have been neglecting for a while now, and I know my life and business will improve drastically once I work on these. If you’re doing any of the things listed above, let me know about it in the comments below! I’d love to hear about your plans.

Save $120 Instantly – Amazon Prime and GrubHub Plus Perks

I know it’s been a while since I posted, and I promise, I’ll be back more consistently (I’ve already pre-written 5 posts, so you can be sure that more content is coming your way!) But, for today, I have a little money-saving tip for you, in case you missed it.

If you haven’t heard, Amazon and GrubHub (GH) have partnered to offer one year of free GrubHub membership to all Amazon Prime members. I used GH frequently during 2020 and 2021, so I was delighted to see that my Prime membership will include GH free deliveries (at least, for the next 12 months). If you have Amazon Prime and you’re currently a GH member, go ahead and turn on your free membership, so you can save $120 this year. And if you’re not already a GH member, consider activating your free membership during the upcoming months, as you may want the convenience of having food delivery instead of having to go out into inclement weather.

You can read more about the partnership here. Enjoy!

Welcome to 2022! What Will You Create This Year?

Hi everyone! Welcome to 2022!

I hope you all have been safe and blessed this past year, and I wish upon you more safety, good health, love and wealth in the year to come.

I had every intention of posting more throughout 2021, but there were a lot of changes in my offline life that made that difficult. That main change was this –

I didn’t know if I wanted to offer financial advice anymore.

In hindsight, I realize that was a bit absurd: even if I didn’t offer my musings online, my offline family and friends would still ask me money questions, I would still take continuing education courses to maintain my license(s), and I’d still be fascinated by the worlds of money, tax and wealth. So, for me, there was no way to avoid being part of this world.

Yet, I still questioned whether this is what I wanted long-term. I had originally structured this space for coaching and consulting, but I realized that the coaching options were not my ideal setup, and consulting still didn’t resonate. Now I understand that I don’t have to do either one: I can simply share tips here and there, offer some advice, and if it feels inspired, offer options that allow a deeper dive into certain concepts.

So I’m back – on my terms, and in my power. And I’m excited to share the things that I’ve learned over the past several years with you all: I’ve got some tips for wealth creation that will be mind-blowing! I’ll resume with my posts next week, and we’ll take this dive into the world of money together.

I hope you all will join me on this journey: I’d love to share it with you all! Until then, have a great weekend, take care, and I’ll talk to you all soon!

A New Way to Approach Your Finances

I’ve met a lot of people that had varying financial circumstances. One of the greatest perks of working as an International Tax Specialist was that I got to see how people around the world financed their lifestyles. With the experience I got working at IRS, I found that the biggest thing keeping people from their lifestyles is their own limiting belief systems. They honestly believe that they cannot afford the life that they desire because of cost. Remember, I saw people living abroad and doing very well, earning much less than many folks here in the US.

To be honest, MOST people can live extremely comfortable lifestyles for far less than they think. The main thing that you will need is a new mindset, or a new way to approach your finances. I will write a few posts about this, as I think that it’s important for everyone to understand my personal beliefs as it pertains to finance, and how I guide my clients’ financial plans. I’m not going to spout a bunch of feel-good theory, but I will share how I approach personal finance when speaking to clients.

First, if you want to live a more quality life, you have to really examine your wants and make them high priority. The key is:

**Redefine your Wants as Needs and You Will Increase the Likelihood of Attaining Those Things**

The problem with most people is that they place their strongest desires in the Wants category, which significantly decreases their importance. I propose that instead of classifying a non-immediate goal as a Want, try classifying it as a Need. When you change how you state your biggest goals, it will tell your subconscious mind that your goals are necessary to your survival and, as with anything needed for survival, your mind will work overtime to find a way to secure whatever survival goal you desire. Here are some examples of Wants redefined as Needs.

*I want a new career
versus
*I need a career that will use my talents to the full and keep me inspired.

*I want financial security
versus
*I need to generate enough passive and earned income so that, even during tough economic times, I may continue to live my fullest life.

*I want to travel internationally
versus
*I need to explore the world, because this feeds my soul and keeps me intellectually stimulated.

When Wants are redefined as Needs, it forces your mind to devote more resources and energy to achieving that redefined goal. I think that any long-term desire can be redefined as a Need. When you make your goals a priority, you will see opportunities that may not have been obvious before; you will also find that you’re subconsciously arranging your life to work in harmony with your Needs.

Writing down your redefined Wants is extremely important. The process of writing takes an idea and makes it something more concrete, tangible, and realistic than when the thought resided in your head. I’d also suggest that every time you take an action toward a goal, make notes of things that worked and things that didn’t. You are apt to repeat a successful experience if you can replicate it.

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Please check back in the upcoming weeks for more tips on finance, as well as some very special updates from me!

The 3 Pillars of Financial Success

As a rule, I like to keep things simple. One of the principles I share with my clients is that there are 3 things- and ONLY 3 things- that need to be implemented in order to ensure financial success. These 3 pillars are the basis for every budget, long term retirement plan, and customized Prosperity Plan that I create. Would you like to know more? (I see you nodding!) Here is what you need to be financially successful:

Reduce Debt

This isn’t a discussion about good debt vs. bad debt. As far as I’m concerned, ALL debt should be eliminated as soon as you possibly can. Debt that isn’t tied to appreciable assets (like land, businesses, or even education credentials) is especially repulsive. Always aim to pay things off, pay on time, and avoid taking on debt unless it’s for something that retains its value.

So long as you are paying money to others, you will find it hard to have money for yourself and for the things that make your heart sing. Debt reduction is critical to financial success. Less debt is always the better choice.

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Earn More

There are lots of arguments made against earning more money. But, those arguments invariably come from people that complain about not having enough money. Not only do those underfunded folks bash those that earn more, but they justify their own scarcity so that they won’t have to make any changes or possibly TAKE ACTION to alleviate their monetary discomfort.

As a general rule, more income, whether it comes from wages, self employment income, or passive income streams, is a good thing. If you have enough money coming in, you automatically have access to more options. OPTIONS are all about freedom: if you have more money, then you are free to choose the things that YOU want, without fearing that you will go lacking in other areas of your life.

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Save More

This is, oddly enough, the hardest part of financial success. Putting money aside and resisting the urge to spend it has to be one of the most challenging parts of becoming financially successful. It seems that whenever someone finally gets a nice little nest egg put away, sudden “emergencies” appear, which whittle down those savings to nothingness. It’s depressing and demotivating when those “emergencies” happen, which is why some people seem to always have no “rainy day” money. They are discouraged from saving again, lest those “emergencies” deplete that nest egg once more.

My best suggestion is to put the money in an account that requires an unusual amount of effort to do withdrawal. My federal job has the option for thrift savings accounts, and it takes quite a bit of paperwork in order to do a withdrawal. That, in my opinion, is enough of a deterrent to keep me from going in and recklessly spending my retirement savings.

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Those are my top tips for achieving financial success. These are recommendations that I’ve personally implemented successfully. What are some of your favorite financial strategies/tips?

5 Ways to Save Money TODAY!

I’ve spent the past few weeks digging through tax returns (yay for life after April 15th!) and love that I can now turn my attention to overall financial fitness. If we want to live more prosperous lives, we have to watch the habits of those that are living quality lifestyles. Many wealthy individuals use certain techniques to maintain their standard of living; mainly, they focus on keep their expenses low, while simultaneously growing their assets. No matter what you earn, you can always employ the “Reduce Expenses, Increase Assets” perspective.

These tips are in no way original, but who doesn’t occasionally need a helpful reminder?

1. Eat at home. According to the Wall Street Journal, individuals in lower income levels spend more on food than those in higher income brackets. Now, the infographics featured on WSJ are simple snapshots and doesn’t account for everyone’s circumstances, but generally speaking, these hold true. The convenience of purchasing something premade or dining at a restaurant often comes at a higher price, both monetarily and healthwise. So, instead of dining out or buying something prepackaged, eat a healthy, homecooked meal. Make sure that you cook enough so that you will have tasty leftovers for the next day’s lunch!

2. Cancel an unnecessary subscription. Most of us have at least one subscription that we can eliminate, whether it’s a magazine, newspaper, subscription box full of “surprise” items or premium cable television stations. One of my hobbies is genealogy and I had a paid subscription to a genealogical research website. I cancelled the subscription to the website in favor of going to the library. I find that going to the library helps me to focus and use my time more wisely; the monetary savings is just a perk! So, go ahead and cancel that subscription. If you find that you cannot live without it, you can always renew your subscription.

3. Avoid shopping websites and physical stores. This is so obvious, yet how many of us find ourselves mindlessly wandering over to our favorite online stores, perusing the “What’s New” pages and making a mental list of the items we want to get soon? If we don’t visit the websites, then we can’t be tempted. The same thing goes for visiting our favorite shops to see what has been stocked since our last visit: if we want to save money, avoid the places that want you to spend your money!

4. Call a service provider to reduce a bill or get additional perks. This can work for any business with whom you have an account. It works particularly well if you have cable television, credit cards, or even a bank or credit union account. When contacting the provider, mention how long you’ve been a customer and how much you’ve enjoyed doing business with them, then ask if they have any specials or if your account qualifies for any bonuses. The key to this is to be pleasant and not demanding. The customer service representative will be thrilled that you aren’t irate, and they will eagerly share what offers are available to valued customers like you.

5. Plan a free activity. I once knew a person that could not fathom doing any activity that didn’t cost money. In fact, every time his wife asked him to go out and do something fun, his excuse was that he had no money (of course, his wife knew his financial situation; he didn’t lack money, he lacked creativity and originality). Every time he did something fun, it cost him a significant amount of money. As you can imagine, his finances were in shambles because none of his entertainment was free. Do a free activity for a change. Even small towns have lots of free activities available. Try going to a local museum, enjoying a picnic in the park, visit the local library (these often have fantastic free events), joining (or creating!) a book club, or finding a local festival that has no admission costs. If you live in a medium- to large-sized city, there are a plethora of free options. Get creative!

Those are just 5 quick, easy tips to help you save money today. What are some of your favorite money-saving ideas and activities? Please comment below and share some of the ways you’ve reduced your expenses.