Be Money Wise


Money-Wise image credit: Good Search

Be money wise.

None of these tips cost you anything but will save you and others headache if you keep them up to date.

  • Have three-to-six months of income put aside.

I prefer not to call it an “emergency” fund, but I advocate putting money aside for the future. The money’s in savings, so as you save more, you have more money put aside, even without an “emergency.”

So, you don’t lose your job, or don’t land in the hospital for months on end. You’ll have money saved  for a smaller unexpected something (a car’s flat tire, a dishwasher that conks out, a dog needing a visit to the vet.) Did you know 70% of people don’t have money put aside that could over three-to-six months of living expenses. Can you save $20 a week? Make sure it’s accessible; liquid.By putting this money aside, you build a cash-buffer over time. You don’t have to start big, but you do have to start.

 

  • Check your credit reports.

Credit reports are free (one a year from each credit bureau), just make sure you’re on the legitimate industry’s official website www.annualcreditreport.com. Eighty-one percent of people don’t check their credit reports. It’s not only about your money, but your identity that your checking. The three major credit bureaus are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Stagger your report requests every four months. Related post: Credit Report/Credit Score

 

 

  • Update your will.

Eighty-six percent of Consumer Reports survey respondents said they either didn’t have a will, and other  estate-planning documents, or hadn’t updated it in over five years. Even if nothing has changed in your life, check your beneficiaries on your will, insurance accounts, and retirement policies. I had a friend who didn’t update his will and when he died, his surviving wife was left with a mess. Some of the people he’d listed as beneficiaries had died years before. It complicated the process, and relatives had their hands out on behalf of the deceased beneficiaries. What a hassle. Update your will.

 

These are easy, free things you can do to keep your finances in good condition. Make becoming money wise a habit!

Money and the Subconscious Mind


Money-and-Your-Subconscious-Mind1-300x163 image credit: Good Search

The conscious mind is the ship’s master. If you go around saying, “I have no money” your subconscious mind take you at your word, because the subconscious mind follows directions. It cannot argue, decide or initiate—It’s the servant of your conscious mind.

If you say, “I don’t have money”, your subconscious mind works to ensure you don’t have money for what you want. (Because that’s what you’re saying.) Your subconscious mind is just following your orders. Rather than saying, “I can’t afford that” try saying, “I choose to use my money elsewhere” or “I’ve budgeted for something else right now”.

It’s not about giving up desire for what you can’t purchase right now, it’s about being real, fiscally intelligent and planting the seed for the item to come your way. It doesn’t matter how expensive the item is, either. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be given to you as a gift, or you win it, or you have the money sooner than you originally expected.

Years ago while window shopping, I saw a dress at a boutique. I said, “That’s for me!” I went inside the store. The dress wasn’t in my budget, but I tried it on anyway. It fit and looked great on me. I took note of the size, and told myself I’d check back, and if it was on sale, I’d get it if I still liked it. A month later I did go back. My size was the only one left—and it was 50% off! I tried it on again and still liked it, so bought it. I still have this classic red dress with black velvet cuffs and collar. It still looks good, and I still love it.

I’ve known two people who were gifted with cars by non-family members. One of the cars was brand-spankin’ new. I’ve gifted people with travel, money, and finding what they’d been looking for, but couldn’t find themselves. I’ve won money, books, a Cat-in-the-Hat Pillow (at age six-when it was really important!), a month of in-door rock climbing, candy,  a scarf, hula-hoop contests —and cancer—twice.

Say, “I’m a winner!” and act like one. In other words, name it. Claim it. Act accordingly.

Earning Money


buttered toast  Image credit: Good Search

Earning Money. Did you leave a job, or were you laid off, and are now back in the workforce? Did you take a salary hit? You’re not alone. According to Urban Institute, re-employed workers ages 50-61 have taken a -21% hourly pay hit compared to pre-layoff wages. Ages 25-34 have taken -7% hit.

Are you in this group? Did you leave a job and can’t find one at comparable wages? Are you willing to take a new job anyway, even if it’s not what you want, not what you’re trained for, and not at that pay you are accustom? If not, what are you doing for income? Are you living off savings? Moving in with others? Moving to a less expensive location?

How’s your attitude, and outlook for the future? Do you feel you’ll “land like a cat” (on it’s feet), or “land like a piece of buttered toast” (buttered side down)? Do you have a support system? Do they help in obvious financial ways, or in more subtle ways?

If you’d like to share on any of these thoughts re: earning money or related,  please do.

Budgeting Goals for 2013


piggy bank Image Credit: Good Search

Happy new year! Now, stop eating, go to the gym and make a budget. Hello? Hey! Come on back here!

It doesn’t have to be hard or boring. None of it. It’s about allowing you to do the things you want to do. It’s about giving yourself permission, freedom—not limiting you.

Making a budget should be personal. It’s called Personal Finance. Personal comes first. You set the rules/goals. Having a budget and goals helps you reach your desired outcome. If all you do it put numbers on a piece of paper and you’re not a numbers person, you’ll find a budget boring and won’t be motivated to work it. For what are you saving? Is it a trip? Cut out some pictures of the place and include the experiences you want to have. Include photos of you smiling, money and symbols of a Higher Power —be it a sunset, dove, Krishna—something to remind you of hope and Infinite good available to you.

If you want a buddy to help keep you on track, agree to be accountability partners. Then do the numbers. You know what your rent/mortgage cost, and if you owe on your car. If your insurance is semiannually, divide by six and put it into your monthly expenses. Go through your expenses, even if you’re not positive what they run exactly. This is when an accountably partner is great. They can say, “Oh, I forgot to allow for vet bill expenses. Thanks for reminding me.” Don’t panic. It may take time before you have the unexpected aspects of your budget are covered, but do begin to think of your expenses and having the money for them. Build in a buffer zone for each category. Some months we eat more. We entertain, or splurge on special types of food. Other months, we may have car, child or vet expenses. Nothing gives peace of mind like knowing you’ve got the money in the bank account for the expense.

Do you go to the movies, shop or go out for lunch? Add up approximately how many times you go out and spend money, then add a “fun” column into your budget. This is a guilt-free amount from where you can take money for the fun.

If the budget you set up isn’t working for you in a few months, change it. Check in with your accountability partner and budget weekly or monthly until you get a feel for it. Then you can advance to a quick look monthly, and go into depth a few times a year unless there are big changes in your spending, then check more often, making adjustments. You can do this! Reaching your dreams and goals takes commitment, trade-offs and being aware of you want versus what’s become habit. Allow your budget to become this year’s habit.

So, Now, stop eating, go to the gym and make a budget.

 

Building Good Credit


building good credit image credit: Google

Income has nothing to do with a good credit score. A good credit score comes mostly from paying your installments and revolving credit on time, and avoiding or clearing up collections, civil judgments, tax liens or a bankruptcy.

The very best way to improve your credit score is to pay down credit card debt. Take any strategy you like best, just do it. Some take the highest interest rate, some take the card with the highest balance. Just begin. Also, try to stay under 10 percent of the credit limit on any card.

In general, bankruptcy is cleared after ten years, but on tax liens the ten years begins when the lien is released due to payment.

Paying off  and closing accounts may not work to your advantage if you’re building good credit. Timing is important. The idea is to show you have long standing credit. Before you close an account, you may want to make sure you have another option showing you’ve had long term credit somewhere. The idea about owing on a credit card is to show you are diligent about paying it off. It doesn’t need to be an expensive item, or on-going. A credit report only shows if you paid the bill on time. It doesn’t help you if you pay the bill early (including accelerating payments such as mortgage and  car loans.) It does hurt you if you pay bills late.

A potential employer can look at your credit history, but they cannot get a hold of your credit score. This seems to be a growing trend (according to Society of Human Resources Management, more than half check credit history during the screening process, depending on state, if legal.)

 

Buying Stocks for Kids


 image credit: Google

Do you have young family members, or children of friends you’d like to get interested in investing? While I don’t like the idea of promoting gambling—and let’s face it, the stock market is a form of it, I do think the stock market is at least worth talking about to kids.

Do you watch television, or read the newspaper? If you watch a television show to do anything with money, or pour over the stock report page in the newspaper, talk about it with a child, teen—or anyone who’ll listen. I’ll never forget the day when I was living in New Zealand and a friend of mine saw me reading the stock reports and with shock asked, “Do you understood it?” Meekly adding, “I wish I did.” I brought the page over to him and explained the columns. Soon after that he let me know how Coke and Disney were doing. For his birthday a few years later, I bought him some shares in Coke. Rather than having him open an account for a few stock shares and pay taxes on his gift, I bought some shares to add to my account then told him what I’d done, and why. The idea was to sell the shares to cover some of his travel expenses to the states when he came for a visit.

According to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, 12/20012 if you want to buy some stock for a minor, you could go through a brokerage firm, several of which offer custodial accounts with low minimum, no setup or annual fees, and low or no commissions for buying and selling shares.

  •   Capitol One (formerly ING Direct) has no minimum and charges $4 per trade if you sign up for their monthly automatic investment plan. Capitol One (as far as I can tell) is continuing with their Kids Saving Account, which has no fees or minimum and currently pays 0.8% interest. I like this site for kids. It promotes taking/teaching about money—specifically saving, in a casual, fun style.
  • Charles Schwab has a $100 investment minimum and charges $8.95 for on-line stock trades.
  • TD Ameritrade charges $9.99 for each on-line stock trade, and has no fees or minimum.
  • Scottrade has a $500 investment minimum and charges $7 for on-line trades.

If you have more than one child involved, they will each need their own custodial account, each having a custodian, who’ll manage the account assets until the child is eighteen or twenty-one, depending on the state in which they reside. The custodian doesn’t need to be the child’s parent. The custodian can be a grandparent, aunt/uncle, parent’s friend—anyone who’ll manage the assets responsibly until the child is of legal age to do so. Anyone may contribute to the child’s account, not just the custodian.

This could be a fun gift if you got creative with it. You could still wrap something up, or create a scavenger hunt for hints—stock report page, pictures from magazines that represent the stock. You don’t have to go big with this. You can buy one share if you want, and depending on what you buy, maybe you wait a few months and buy another share. Have fun and use it as a learning tool for your child. Maybe they pay the fee and you pay the stock, or the other way around. Make sure you educate them the ups (bull) and downs (bear) of stock, and how time heals most wounds. Maybe a trip to the library for some books or videos, too. Have fun!

Children friendly links:

Creative wealth

Money management 

 Finance park video

Young Savers

 

Free Money


 image credit: Google

Boom! Wow! You’ve just won $1,000.00 after taxes.

What would you do with it?

It’s “unscheduled money” so would you use it for bills anyway? Or would you use it as “fun money”?

House repairs? Car savings? A year’s worth of dinner and movies? Travel? Clothes? Tools? Donations?

Sit with this idea of getting $1,000.00 and feel it. Pay attention to how it feels receiving the money, and making plans to spend it. If it doesn’t feel good, you’re in the moment of lack — wishing it were more than $1,000.00, or focusing on “it’s not real.”

Everything begins in the mind. Imagination is where it all starts for everything — the chair you’re sitting on; the computer you use. The idea is to feel the fun of the money and plans. That shifts your focus and energy to receiving and if you keep this up throughout the day, you’ll see a shift. Some may see it that day, others in a few days, and others a week or so. Don’t stress out about “doing it right.” Have fun. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.

Sometimes I do this throughout the day. I’ll plan to spend it on yard art. Then a few hours later, I spend it on travel. I never tell myself, “You can’t re-spend it.” I just keep having the experience of receiving and planning.

Have fun with  your free money!

Cha-ching!

Holidays on the cheap


 image credit: Google

Holidays on the Cheap. That’s the plan, anyway. Did you do it last year? Have you ever done it? The idea behind giving at the holidays is to give, not necessarily spend. The one with the most toys is not the winner; the one with the biggest bill is not most favored.

Giving a gift – wedding, birthday, holiday, mother’s or father’s day—it’s about expressing your love for that person. Yes, sometimes we really do want to show it by giving someone that gift that is more expensive than what we’d normally spend—and if it’s budgeted for, you can! But you’ve got to think it through. Plan ahead. Birthdays and each holiday come once a year.

Some budget gift ideas:

Baking isn’t as inexpensive as it used to be, but if you like to bake, and bake things people like, that’s a gift. (You don’t even need to buy a container that’ll end up in a garage sale.) A plate or bag with a ribbon works nicely and saves you a couple bucks right there. Make some jam, jelly or can some vegetables. Make some bread. If you bake in the winter, you’ll help heat your house on a cold day by baking then, too! Don’t bake, but are a good cook? Cook a meal for someone or have a gathering and let them know before they come over that this is their gift from you. Take someone on a picnic when the weather’s nice. Some wasabe peas and cheese samples. Get a nice, small basket at a garage sale, re-use a gift bag, or decorate a brown bag you have in the kitchen. Put some fruit in it, or vegetables and a recipe for them to make stir fry or chili. Wash someone’s car, maybe even wax it! They have some great spray on, wipe off waxes now. You don’t have to be made of muscle to use them like in the old days. Would they love you to clean their windows? Walk their dog? Babysit their kids? (If you know you wouldn’t well with certain jobs, don’t offer it.) Is someone moving? Tell them you’ll help them out. Find a charity (I love Heifer International) and give cards letting co-workers, and others know you’ve given a gift (a goat!) in their names. I love to do this a thank you gifts to groups of people.

Growing up, I’d ask my mom, “What do you want for ________?” (your birthday, Christmas) etc.

She’d answer, “Clean dishes.”

“Nooooooo. What do you want?”

“Everyone to get along.”

“Nooooooo. Really. What do you want?”

“It is what I want.”

“What can I get you?”

“A handkerchief—or clean dishes, or everyone getting along.”

She always got the hanky. She’d given choices. One was a chore. One was a behavior. One was affordable for a kid.

Are people asking you for a chore or behavior, but you want to hear something easier to give? When we give, it’s about the other person, and yet it speaks so loudly about us. Just a warning: hankies have really gone up in price.

If you’re going to spend anyway, keep these things in mind:

– Make your list – the maximum amount of money you are willing to spend for this event.

– Have you included everyone/everything on the list? Groups you may be involved that do gift exchanges? Taxes on your purchases? Travel?

– Eat before you go shopping. If you don’t like crowds go during “off” hours (weekdays, or nights.)

– If you’re someone who doesn’t like shopping, exercise before shopping (you’ll feel better). Before shopping, you may want to take a look at your retirement projection, kid’s college cost forecast, or keep the question in mind, “Would I rather give or buy this, or give or do that?” For me, that’s a question that allows me to walk out of the store (often without something) with my head high, and my goals in tact.

– I’ve heard it suggested people go to the store one day of “big item” things, and “small item” things on an other day. The theory is, if you buy something at $1,000.00 then turn around and see something for $150.00, you’ll think, “What a deal!” and buy the item at $150.00 without even thinking it through.

Holidays on the cheap. It doesn’t mean don’t give. It means get creative. Think. Listen. Give from the heart. Have fun! Enjoy the holidays. Enjoy your friends and family.

If you’re interested in seeing how charities rank with how they spend the money they raise, check out Charity Navigator. If you’re not familiar with Heifer International, give it a quick look. The links are below:

 

The Last Word


This is the last post post from the blog, Minimalist Living. I’ve really enjoyed this blog. It was well written, and I’d cheer in agreement while reading. A fond farewell to “Minimalist Living” – but never to the idea, or the lifestyle! Take care.

Change The Code

Well I am feeling that the end is here for this minimalist living blog. I love to write and share various thoughts but the reality is I probably spend too much time blogging and not enough time on real world stuff that needs to be a focus.

So this may very well be the last post on Minimalist Lifestyle.

I have a number of thoughts in my head that I would like to touch on so here goes.

Let’s first look at the way the education system “trains” us to be slaves.

All the school system really does is teach us how to work for others and not to really think for ourselves.

The message we get from parents, teachers, and society is to go to school, get good grades, keep your mouth shut, don’t question authority and this will allow you to get a “good job”.

In both the…

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