Book Review: Your Money or Your Life

If you’re looking for a full financial makeover, you’ve just found your inspiration. Vicki Robin, co-author of Your Money or Your Life, is also known as the mother of the FI (Financial Independence) life. She is a talented writer and a renaissance woman in her own right. I was interested in reading her book after hearing her podcast interview with Paula Pant. Though the book was originally published in the 90’s, a fully revised edition was released earlier this year.

Favorite Points

This is a great book if you’re looking for a guide to help you really examine your life and your finances. The book includes lots of thought provoking exercises and insights around leading an intentional life and being intentional with your money. It prompts you to go through your beliefs around money with a fine-tooth comb, and includes a lot of advice and guidance for doing so. One such nugget of wisdom is the mantra “no shame, no blame.” Vicki brings this up when asking us to examine our financial pasts. This is very important advice for anyone trying to remake their financial life. We can’t change our financial pasts, but Your Money or Your Life Book Review: At Peace With Moneywe don’t need to stew and feel bad about them. The best thing we can do is move on and take action to enhance our financial futures. This mantra helps us remember that instead of being distracted by our past mistakes, we should look forward and act now. 

Included above is another nugget of wisdom. The chart indicates the sweet spot our finances can allow us to live in without letting our jobs and our need for income control us. This is marked by the top of the chart labeled “enough.” The writers explain that to achieve FI, we need to find our own “enough” zone, a place where our financial needs are sustainable and satisfying. In our culture of material excess, this is a very profound point. This insight alone can easily revolutionize your financial outlook!

I definitely recommend taking a good deal of time to read this book and do the steps. It is chock-full of information. Especially if you’re new to the world of FI, each chapter takes a while to absorb. Don’t let that intimidate you! With serious commitment, this book can change your financial life. If it sounds intriguing, please check it out. I also recommend having a look at the book’s website, it includes a lot of other helpful tools and resources if you want to get started!

Angela

Image Sources: Free in Ten Years, Your Money or Your Life

What’s Your Money Mantra?

What's Your Money Mantra? At Peace With Money

When I see the words “money mantra,” I am instantly a little skeptical.

People often confuse money mantras with affirmations – statements like “money comes easily and abundantly to me.” There is nothing wrong with affirmations, but they are not the same as money mantras.  Affirmations are what you intentionally tell yourself for 5 minutes in the morning as you get ready for your day. You may or may not repeat them for the rest of the day.

In contrast, your money mantra is what your actual belief is throughout the day as you make money and life decisions. Think of it as your guiding principle in financial matters. It is rooted deeply in your belief system and affects all your money decisions, big and small. 

My Money Mantra

I uncovered my mantra almost instantly: “having money in the bank gives me choices.” I think this mantra even helped me come up with my business name; having choices gives me a sense of peace. This statement is a basis for my daily decision making process and in my plans for the future. If I say “no” to one decision I can say “yes” to something else. Being able to choose what to say “yes” to is important to me. I want to able to say “yes” to making charitable donations, to supporting artists, to paying for my daughters college, to my husband retiring early.

DIY Money Mantra

What's Your Money Mantra? At Peace With Money

You can discover your own money mantra by investigating your beliefs around money. Do a little soul searching and ask yourself some questions about your positive and negative thoughts and ideas around finance. This list of 20 questions should help get you started.

This activity can be done solo, or with a money buddy or partner! Once you’ve investigated your beliefs, some positive statements that you can use as your mantra may start to pop up. If you find you don’t have a lot of positive beliefs around money, do some digging to find a mantra that feels true enough for you that you can start operating with it on a daily basis. Incorporate it into your money decisions and see if you can track your progress. Make sure your mantra is guiding you in the financial direction you desire. I desire choices – what do you want from your money?

A money mantra simplifies financial decisions and helps you create a personal financial philosophy. Uncovering one is in itself a helpful process that can help bring financial clarity to your life. Happy soul-searching! May peace be with your money. If you’re finding you need some financial guidance with your business finances, check out my services page or schedule a discover call.

Angela

Image Sources:  Thought Catalog ,  Diego PH

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

Young and Thrifty: A Guide to Saving

A Guide to Saving for Young People: At Peace With MoneyRecently I’ve received some questions about financial advice for young people. I think the most important piece of advice I can give is this: save your money. It’s simple, but it can be difficult to get in the saving habit. That’s why I recommend developing a savings plan. There are three parts to a good savings plan: percentage, motivation, and banking.

Savings Percentage

In order to save money, it’s important to decide what portion of your money you want to regularly save. You can decide this in a variety of ways. If you’re in a situation where you don’t need most of your income for fixed expenses, the amount you can save becomes much more flexible. For example, when my younger daughter started working at our local pizza place, she decided she would save her paycheck and spend her tips.

Many sources recommend saving about 10% of your income monthly. If you have a fixed income, this can be calculated easily. With variable income, you can simply tally up what you’ve made and calculate the percentage each month. Use the other 90% of your income to live off of and cover your expenses. 

If you want to make things more  organized or complex, you can work on budgeting out your expenses. I’ll talk about different budgeting strategies in a later post.

Motivation

Having financial goals is important! Make sure you know what you’re saving for. Are you looking to purchase a car? Moving out? A  fund that will enable you to leave your job in case of  sexual harassment or unfair treatment? Having an intention for your savings is important because it helps keep you motivated. The more specific it is, the easier it is to focus on. For example, when my older daughter decided she wanted to take a 3 month road trip, she calculated how much she needed to save, got a job at a shoe store, and the next few months saving almost all of her income. She even lived on her friend’s couch for two months to save on rent. In the end, she saved all the money she needed and then some. That’s the power of motivation! 

Banking

Use a bank that earns you high interest on your savings and doesn’t charge fees. Doing some research to find a good bank will help you figure out where to put your money and watch it grow quickly. You can also read my tips for avoiding bank fees here

Some banks allow you to automatically transfer money to a savings account each month. Setting up that automation can make saving even easier. When you don’t even have to think about it, it’s much more likely to get done. 

A Guide to Saving for Young People: At Peace With MoneySaving is the best piece of financial advice I can give to young people. Getting in the habit of saving your money opens up a lot of choices, something that’s important and helpful in any young person’s life!

This post was written in response to some requests I’ve received for financial advice for young people. To answer these questions, I’ve created a series called Young and Thrifty. Check the tag Young and Thrifty to see other articles in the series. 


Angela

Image Sources: Jeremy Cai,  Sharon McCutcheon

Why You Need a Money Buddy

Why You Need a Money Buddy: At Peace with Money

Who do you go to for financial advice? We don’t talk about money that much in our society, but we should! Talking about our finances, our incomes, and exchanging financial advice can bring in helpful new perspectives to our financial lives. That’s why I believe everyone needs a go-to person for financial advice or perspective.

Not unsurprisingly, I am that person for a few people in my life. When my sister and I were young adults, we had a conversation about what roles or specialties we would take on in our lives. I have always been a “numbers person,” and volunteered myself to be the financial sounding board between the two of us. My sister calls me any time she needs financial advices, another perspective, or an extra set of eyes on her finances.A few weeks ago, she asked me for my advice about buying a new car, which I wrote about here.

Why It’s Important

Having a go-to person for financial advice is crucial for a few reasons. First, using someone else as a sounding board can lend clarity or new ideas to any financial situation. You can also share tools, tips, and ideas with each other. I enjoy talking with other financial coaches about their favorite strategies, and also get some good book recommendations!

Most importantly, having someone you trust to talk about money with can make your finances less intimidating. If you hear about someone else’s financial situation, it can put yours in perspective. Having a “money-buddy” is likely to keep you more accountable to your financial goals and also help you feel more comfortable thinking about money as it becomes a more regular topic of conversation in your life.

Solopreneurs may also appreciate having someone to bounce financial ideas off of, because they can benefit from outside perspectives. When you’re running your business all by yourself, it can be easy to develop financial blind-spots. Having someone to talk to about your business finances can help you avoid that.

Find Your Person

Try approaching a trusted friend or family member with the idea of sharing financial advice with each other. Make sure it’s someone you feel comfortable with so that your conversations are solely helpful. Once you’ve found someone, figure out how you want to structure your financial mentorship. You could review Why You Need a Money Buddy: At Peace With Moneyyour finances together every month, share your financial goals and progress, start a mini financial book club, or simply plan to call on each other when you need to make financial decisions. Keep it as simple or involved as you like.

I hope that finding a go-to person for financial advice will help you make better financial decisions and reach your financial goals. Of course, if you ever need professional help, you know where to find me.


Angela

Image Sources: Thought Catalog, Tyler Nix

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. NerdWallet 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

My 2 Easy Must-Do Rules for Personal Financial Success

flowers and planner on desk

Today I’m sharing my top two easy must-do tips for personal financial success. My husband and I have done two things that I believe without question were key to getting us ahead in our personal finances.

First, we have always contributed to our employer retirement program. Even if we felt like we had to scale it back at some points, we still always participated. If your employer offers a matching contribution – even better. If you have an employer retirement program available to you, contribute to it! If you’re self employed, you still have options. Setting up a retirement planning system to regularly contribute to your financial growth and personal gain will only help you in the long run. This is exactly what the Profit First methodology I specialize in is all about!

2 Rules for Financial Success

Second, we always pay our credit cards in full every month. Even if this meant going on lockdown with our spending, we did it. Early on, we made the decision that we would not carry balances on our credit cards.

By establishing these two golden rules years ago, we set the course for financial success.

Angela

Image Source

A Few Easy Tips to Save Money by Picking Up the Phone

notebook phone and glasses on tabletop

I saved myself $200 with two phone calls in the past two days. Both took only 10 minutes and I made one while walking my dog. They were very little effort, but with a nice payoff.

Yesterday I made a call to my insurance company to let them know our 18 year-old daughter has just left for college without the car. She is still a covered driver, but since she’s not a daily driver our premium was reduced by $160 until our upcoming renewal.

Today I made a phone call to a rental car company to dispute a gas charge of $45. After hearing my explanation, they agreed to refund the charge.

I could have easily skipped making these calls, but I’m glad I didn’t. Sometimes saving money is as easy as picking up the phone. Think about your finances for a moment, and ask yourself – do you have any calls to make? Here are a few other tips to save money now or each month:

  • Check to see if you’ve received any wrongful overdraft charges or fees from your bank – many make mistakes all the time. Dispute these charges and get back what they owe you.
  • Call and find out how to avoid monthly fees from your bank.
  • If you’re paying a lot in credit card interest, remember that you have the right to call and negotiate new interest rates, or transfer your balance to an entirely different card. Look for one that has an introductory 0% APR.
  • Cancel unused club memberships and subscriptions for that gym you never use and that magazine you don’t read.
  • Take a look at your cell-phone bill and see if there are any services you don’t use and can stop paying for.

Save Money by Picking up the Phone Pin At Peace with Money

There are lots of little shortcuts and loopholes to saving money – just take a look at what you’re paying for and you’ll surely find something. A little extra cash is worth a few minutes on the phone! I hope you enjoyed these money saving tips and can put them to good use.

Photo source