How to Build Your Best Money Team

Money team jumping into the air

Money is a team sport. Although we have an unfortunate notion in our culture that talking about money is taboo, we need to do our best to break it. By collaborating with others and building a team of people we can trust to talk to about our money, we can start getting the help and information we need.

There are many different people who can make up a money team. Money confidants, such as close friends and coaches who you can confess your financial feelings to, and receive good advice from, are one good example. Your bank can be considered a part of your money team, especially because good customer service is an important aspect of banking. Similarly, your tax prep person, financial planner, accountant or bookkeeper, and even the people you get financial advice from, are all important parts of your money team.

These “team members” fall into three different categories: people in your life, trusted professionals, and advice sources. Let’s take a look at each category and figure out how you can find good team members.

People in Your Life

Anyone in your life who you’re able to talk to about money falls here. Most importantly, these people are able to provide you with space to air your feelings. In some cases, they may also offer good advice. For example, if you’re friends with an accountant or a retirement planner, you’ve hit the jackpot! If not, good friends that you can open up to are still very helpful. The more we air our feelings about money, the more we’re able to think clearly and pursue practical solutions

If you don’t have anyone in your life that you’d consider a financial confidant, don’t worry. Run through your list of connections and identify some people with whom you might feel safe sharing thoughts, feelings, and ideas about money. Then, try approaching them with the idea of sharing these things. Many people are happy to have someone to talk to about this, so it’s worth a shot. For more tips, you can read my article on Why You Need a Money Buddy.”

Trusted Professionals

Here’s where your team members might get more diverse. Financial coaches, bookkeepers, tax preparers, and financial planners all fall into this category. Not everyone will need to refer to every one of these professionals, and perhaps not on a regular basis. However, working with professionals in all of these areas can do wonders for your financial life.

Like a money buddy, coaches are there for you to confide in, but are also trained to help you find specific solutions. Good bookkeepers are able to deliver valuable financial insights about your business and follow appropriate record-keeping laws. If you run a business, you might find you appreciate that someone else does your record keeping, while you get to do whatever it is you really enjoy. Here’s an article about how to find a good bookkeeper.

Tax preparers are great to consult with during tax season. The most helpful tax preparers help you get a better idea of what you need to file, what you can write off, and if you qualify for any credits. Depending on your assets, you may or may not need to have a financial planner you can regularly work with. If you want to do some complex planning, it might be good to consider adding a financial planner to your money team.

Advice Sources

The last category is made up of public figures and advising entities. Your bank is probably the most important member of your money team here. If you don’t have a bank that provides good customer service, or if you’re getting charged bank fees, switch, and fast. Being able to sit down with a bank employee when you have questions is an important aspect of building your money team. Bank fees are just annoying, but also totally avoidable! Read my articles about “How to Avoid Bank Fees” and “How I Broke Up With Wells Fargo (And You Can Too!).”

Earlier in this article, I mentioned that a financial planner can be a good reference, but another option is to simply meet with a planner at a firm as needed. I had one client who, when planning for retirement, made one appointment at a firm and got all her questions answered. No commitment needed, and a good source of advice.

The last member of this category is public advice figures. There are quite a few out there, so finding the ones who give the best advice for you might require some sifting. These articles contain some of my thoughts on finding good financial advice. Also, here are a couple of my personal favorite resources.

Building a money team takes some work, but when you have a network of people, professionals, and resources who can help you solve your money problems, you’ll be glad you did it!

☮

Angela

Image: Husna Miskandar

Reduce the Hassle: 3 Tips to Keep Your Money System Simple

When I work with small business owners I often run see this one unfortunate pattern; many business owners believe that your money system has to be complex in order to work. The reality, however, couldn’t be further from that. We’ve already talked about how important having a money system is, and how to visualize it with money-mapping. Keeping your money system simple and streamlined makes it easier to visualize, but also much easier to follow through on and keep organized. If a system requires a bunch of checking in or spreads your money into a bunch of accounts you forget about, it’s not worth the maintenance. Here are three strategies you can use to pare down your business’s money system to a manageable size.

Limit Your Cards

If you’ve got a ton of cards under your business, keeping track of all of them and keeping them paid off can be difficult. To make it easier on you, I suggest paring down the number of cards you use. This will help you better keep track of your bills, credit rewards, and any other info associated with your cards.

Please note, I’m not advocating for closing any of your credit cards, as this can lead to a lowering of your credit score. However, here’s a good guide on how to do that, if you’re interested.

Under One Roof

One recommendation I regularly make to my clients is to consolidate their money into one institutions. If you have business bank accounts at three, four, or five different banks, that’s gotta be hard to stay on top of! Getting it all under one roof will help you keep an eye on your finances as a whole more easily. If you have multiple banks and you’re wondering how to go about consolidating, you might like to read this piece about switching banks we featured a couple years ago. It contains a guide to comparing banking offers and picking to the best option.

Keep Track

Making a regular habit of checking in with your finances. Make this easy by consolidating your passwords to your different accounts and portals. If you don’t have to go searching for passwords before you begin your checkin, you’re way more likely to actually do it!

I also recommend using an app or other tracking system. I especially like Mint.Others also like YNAB, or paper money tracking. Digitally tracking your money can save you some time, while also giving you a quick snapshot of your accounts when you need it.

If you found these tips helpful, you might also like this article on automation, which is another money hack to keep your systems tidy!

☮

Angela

Put Your Money to Work For You

Once you’re earning a lot of money from your business, you’re set – right? It’s easy to think that way, but the truth is that high earnings give the illusion of affluence without the security or freedom that comes along with true long term wealth building. I use this term to refer specifically to investing.  

In Barbara Huson’s book, Secrets of Six Figure Women, she interviews many high earning women who she calls Modest Accumulators, high earners who spent too much and saved too little. Their issue was not with making money, but rather, managing it. Do you find you have this issue too? It can be easy to have cash flowing in, and yet you find you still have no savings or investments. 

Taking the time to learn to manage your money and build up your wealth is a separate project all its own – and an important one! Often in running our own business we are so fixated on creating something profitable. But once we’ve got profit, we need to have something to do with it! This is what wealth building is all about – creating a mindful strategy to utilize and maximize those profits so they support your lifestyle in the long term.

Fend Off Fear

When it’s put that way, doesn’t wealth building sound like a good idea? Yet so many people are hesitant to do it. Many of Barbara’s interviewees had a wide range of excuses for not investing their savings, but the underlying reason was the same for most – fear.  They feared making a wrong decision, not understanding how the market works, or not knowing what to invest in.

The ironic truth here is that the longer we delay investing, the more money we lose out on. The more time our investments have to accrue interest, the better! So the best thing to do is to start learning, and start investing. Start listening to a podcast , read a book , or check out my post on financial self-education resources. Figure out what gaps in your knowledge scare you, and start to fill them. The only way to build wealth, is to start doing it!

Invest Money To Have Money

Some say, “When I have money, then I will invest,”but it doesn’t really work that way. You won’t ever have money until you start putting money to work for you. While you’re at your job making money, your money can also be out making money, if you invest. Here’s a clear outline of how to do that, according to Barbara’s investigation. 

Automate regular transfers from your bank account to an investment. Automation is one of my personal favorite tools for wealth building. You can read more about automation in my post about it!

Delegate  – find a financial professional that can help you evaluate your investing decisions. Working with a professional also adds a dose of accountability to keep your investment plan on track.   

Educate and Communicate – silence around money is what keeps us stuck. Comparing compensation and exposing pay gaps at work is one issue communication takes care of. Financial empowerment can also be achieved in group efforts. Barbara interviewed many of the women who were involved in investment clubs with other women. I often advocate for having a money buddy or a mentor. Breaking the taboo around money can help us all build better strategies. 

Finally, I want to add a note about the need for diversification. Any professional will tell you that it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket. One of Barbara’s interviewees realized she was investing everything back into her own business, but not actually building any wealth in a diversified way. Regardless of whether you are a business owner ensuring that you are working towards a portfolio of investments is important to note. 

Now go forth, and start building your wealth! Women deserve security and the resources to take care of themselves – that’s why I do what I do, and why I want you to invest. If you’re interested in talking to me about finances around your solopreneur journey, check out my Services and book a free/no obligation call!

 

Angela

Image: Zdeněk Macháček

Pick One of These 5 Ideas To Automate Your Wealth

Pick Pick One of These 5 Ideas To Automate Your Wealth: At Peace with Money

Last week we talked about loving our future selves, and dove into the world of IRAs. Today, I’d like to share a way you can love yourself and share the wealth with both future and present you – automation! I’ve written about automation before, and why it is so beneficial to our financial lives. The idea is simple: by automating your finances, you reduce your decision making, thereby reducing your chances to change your mind  or forget about saving money or paying a bill in full. Automating your finances make saving money easier and less of a mental effort. This principle is what Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg employ in their wardrobe choices. They’d wear the same thing every day so that they could conserve their brainpower for other more important decisions!

Here are my five ideas you can use to dip your toes into the world of financial automation. Start off slow – just pick one and try it out. If you like your results, you can come back for more!

Automate a Savings Goal

Set up an amount to automatically be sent to a particular savings account for a goal you’re pursuing. Don’t worry about the amount, any amount is great! Simply trying this is the most important step. 

Automate a Bill Payment

Automating a bill payment insures you will not pay late fees. In the long run, this could save you a lot of money. 

Set an Alert

Many banks offer to send alerts when your account hits a minimum balance. Set this up so you don’t overdraw your account. This way, you can avoid those pesky overdraft fees. 

Connect Your Accounts

Connect your accounts to a money management system or app so you can  really see where your money is actually going. I use Mint and I love it! Personal Capital is another I’ve heard of, and many people also swear by YNAB, or You Need a Budget

Set Up Direct Deposit

Have your paycheck automatically deposited into your checking account! This is so much more simple than Pick One of These 5 Ideas to Automate Your Wealth: At Peace With Moneyhaving to take all that time and effort to take your paycheck to the bank. Even if you have your own business and have varying income, you can create a solopreneur paycheck using the Profit First system. If you’re interested in reading more about this, I recommend my posts Create Your Own Paycheck  and How to Pay Yourself First.

If you enjoy these tips and want more resources on automation, I’ll happily recommend The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach. This book emphasizes how savings habits and automation can help you build up savings for retirement. He also has a variety of free resources available for download on his website, so go ahead and take a look at those too! And of course, if any of this has piqued your interest, I’m happy to talk to you about setting up money systems for your business. Take a look at my service packages and schedule a curiosity call!

Angela

Image Source: Rodion Kutsaev

Why Automation Is Your Money’s BFF

Why Automation is Your Money's BFF: At Peace With MoneyAutomation is your money’s best friend. By automating your finances, you reduce your opportunities for decision making, thereby reducing your chances to change your mind about saving money or paying a bill in full. By reducing your decisions you set yourself up for success! Automation can build up your savings and pay off your bills, without any extra effort on your part. So, how can you use automation as a financial tool?

Automate Everything!

There are many different facets of your finances which can benefit from automation. Automating your bills is a good place to start. Many banks have online bill pay options available that help you pay your regular monthly bills on time. In particular, automation is a good way to ensure you always pay your credit card balance in full, so that you don’t accrue any interest fees. However, one important thing to be aware of when automating your bills is that you will need to stay aware of your bank balance, to avoid over-drafting your account. As long as you keep an eye on your balance, automating your bills is a good way to avoid late fees, build good credit, and stay on top of your finances.

The other major arena of your finances that definitely deserves some automation-attention is your savings. I touched briefly on automating your savings in an earlier article, which you can read here. The most important thing about automating your savings is that if money automatically gets moved out of your spending account, you have no chance to spend it. That makes saving that much easier! We do this with our retirement savings, and it really helps us keep it up. A great resource for further information about automating your savings is The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach.

I hope this motivates you to try out automation with your finances!

Angela

Image Sources: Mitch Lensink, Lucas Silva Pinheiro Santos

How I Broke Up With Wells Fargo (and You Can Too!)

How-To-Break-Up-with-Your-Bank

When my daughter Madeleine learned Wells Fargo planned to charge her increased bank fees and increase her minimum account balance because she was no longer under 18, she decided to switch to a credit union. Below, she outlines the process of research that led her to choose the bank she uses now.

I’d wanted to break up with Wells Fargo for a long time. It was also difficult for me to rest easy while I knew my bank was funding projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline, for-profit prisons, and other tar sands projects.(Here’s their official statement confirming their involvement after the city of Seattle cut ties with the bank for continuing to fund the DAPL project.) If that weren’t enough, the exorbitant fees the bank charges for a variety of reasons led me to decide their convenience factor wasn’t worth it.

Banks and Online Credit Unions

My first thought was to look up the best current banking offers, but most of the options were simply other large banks also involved with the nefarious funding interests I was looking to avoid. Then, I began researching credit unions. Credit unions usually offer higher interest rates and lower fees. They also tend to be more community-oriented and value driven.

So, I decided to join a credit union, but not without a little research. I started by looking up information about the best credit unions. Reviews.com and ValuePenguin both had helpful recommendations, and supermoney was also a helpful resource. Most of these options are national, online credit unions. After reviewing these, I looked up reviews for the ones that fit my criteria. The one I was most interested in was Alliant, but after reading their review, I decided their terrible customer service wouldn’t be worth the hassle. However, I included these resources because you might have different banking needs and be interested in another credit union. I definitely recommend perusing those options.

Local Options

After this dead-end, I decided to look locally. We live in the Bay Area, so I looked up credit unions in the region. I picked out a few different credit unions and looked over the criteria to make sure I’d qualify. Some credit unions require you to live in a very specific area, have a certain type of job, etc. Online credit unions have fewer criteria or easy ways to join without meeting criteria. They’re a good option if you don’t have any local credit unions.

Once I’d found a few options that I would qualify for, I compared their banking offers and looked up reviews. I chose Star One credit union, which offers 1.35% APY on savings accounts (and had some of the best reviews I could find!).

The Switch

The last step was actually making the switch. I went to Wells Fargo and got a cashier’s check from my accounts, and then took it straight to the nearest Star One branch.

On the whole, switching to a credit union was easy. I wish I’d done it a long time ago, because my savings are earning more than 100% of the interest they were at Wells Fargo. Keep that in mind if you’re procrastinating on switching. Your timeline matters!

How to Break Up With Your Bank: At Peace With MoneyFinally, another resource that might help is Magnify Money, recommended on the Stacking Benjamins podcast. I used this tool to look up credit card offers while making the switch. For motivation, this Facebook page, bank transfer day ,encourages you to move your money. I used this tool to look up credit card offers while making the switch. Good luck with your breakup, and happy switching!


Madeleine

Image Sources: Robb Leahy,  Nathan Dumlao

How to Avoid Monthly Bank Fees

How to Avoid Monthly Bank Fees: At Peace with Money

Here’s an easy fix for your financial life: stop wasting your money on monthly bank fees. As you may well know, banks like Wells Fargo, Chase, and Citibank charge monthly service fees for certain accounts and services. Generally there are many ways to avoid these monthly fees, in your personal banking as well as your business banking, and gain more financial freedom.

Here are a few steps you can easily take to eliminate monthly fees:

  1. Open your statements to make sure you are not being charged. You might be surprised.
  2. Call your bank and find out how to avoid those fees. Some banks require a regular deposit of monthly income in order to waive fees. Others ask for a minimum balance. Find out what your requirements are and make sure you will no longer be charged.
  3. Consider your local credit union. Local credit unions may offer incentives to joining them such as a lack of fees. They may also offer higher interest rates on deposited funds and financial involvement with projects that improve your local community.

How to Avoid Monthly Bank Fees: At Peace with MoneyFor example, one of the credit unions in my area partners with an organization that provides financial support and bilingual assistance to startups and small businesses run by low-income and minority entrepreneurs. If you’re looking to align your money with your values, your local credit union is a good place to start. If this interests you, you might enjoy this video on breaking up with big banks.

In addition to credit unions, there are many other banks that offer sign-up bonuses and higher interest rates. Doing a little research is worth it! Here are a few links that compare features of the best current banking offers in 2018 (1, 2, 3).

Angela