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

How A Reliable Car Can Save You Money in the Long Run

How a Reliable Car Saves You Money: At Peace With Money

Earlier this year, we said goodbye to a dear old friend – our Ferrari red ’92 Volvo station wagon. We bought it just after we had our first daughter, and since then, it has been with us through thick and thin. That is, until it got T-boned. All told, we owned and regularly used the car for over 20 years.

Having a good reliable car helped us save money in the long run. Because we were able to keep it so long, we eventually completely paid it off. We also saved big on the maintenance of our car. Volvos are known for their long-lasting engines, and ours was no exception to the rule. Though it did require repairs, it was not a finicky car the way others can be (we’re looking at you, Mercedes-Benz). We did our research before we purchased this car to make sure we didn’t buy something that would be too needy. We ended up saving a lot of money over time because we had to deal with fewer repairs. We’re also lucky to have an in-house mechanic; my husband did many of the repair jobs that were needed, which saved us still more money.

Ultimately, we got more than our money’s worth out of this car. My husband drove it to work, we drove the kids and their friends around in it, took it on many a road trip, let our kids drive it in their teenage years, and moved our oldest daughter to and from college many times. We wouldn’t have been able to keep it so long if it hadn’t been so reliable!

My advice is: do your research and buy a car that won’t need a lot of repairs! This article from Consumer Reports is a good place to start, but don’t stop there. Do more research, compare sources, and make sure your car purchase is a thoughtful one. If there’s anything I learned from owning the Volvo, it’s that your car choice can make a big difference in your finances. If you’d like more advice on purchasing a car, check out my other article about avoiding “car-shopping-brain” and making a purposeful choice.

I hope this advice inspires you to make a thoughtful car purchase, or simply appreciate your car. And next time you see someone driving a Volvo station wagon, admire their money savvy!

Angela

Image Sources: Court Prather, Clem Onojeghuo

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: Creating a Spending Plan

How to Create a Spending Plan: At Peace With Money

Creating a spending plan, also sometimes known as a budget, can be a very important tool for getting a handle on your finances no matter where you are in life. In my last Young and Thrifty post, we briefly touched on budgeting as a way to encourage saving habits. Today, I want to look more closely at 3 different types of spending plans. Maybe you’ll find one that works for you! But first, the budgeting basics:

Analyze Your Expenses

The first step to creating almost any spending plan is to analyze your expenses. Figure out what your fixed expenses are, like rent or mortgage payments, transportation costs, food, etc. These types of expenses are things you really need that tend to cost the same amount every month. After you’ve confirmed what your fixed expenses are, you can analyze the rest of your spending habits and determine which of your expenses are flexible, and not as necessary as your fixed necessities.

Once you’ve evaluated your finances in this way, you can start to take charge of your spending using various strategies.

Categories

The most common budgeting strategy is to divide your expenses into specific categories and assigning designated not to exceed amounts for each category. For example: “Food, $200/month, gas, $150/month, etc.” Doing this can help you establish your monthly living expenses and also help you understand how much you spend on each category. If you wish to cut down on your spending in a particular area, this may be a useful strategy for you.

Set Amount for Flexible Expenses

Another strategy that is helpful when you’re really focused on saving is setting aside a set amount of money for all expenses that lie outside of your fixed necessities. When my oldest daughter was setting a budget while saving for her road trip, she set aside $100 a month for all expenses that weren’t fixed necessities. This might be tight for some, but setting an amount in this way is a very simple budgeting tactic that can encourage you to make your spending more intentional.

Rewards

A third tactic that can help you create a spending plan you’ll stick to is to set aside rewards for yourself. For example, if you have $500 to spend on a certain monthly expense, and you manage to only use $480, you can use that extra $20 to reward yourself. This can be applied to your overall monthly expenses or within certain categories. One of my daughters has found this strategy very motivating and usually ends up using her reward money on ice cream.

Resources

There are two digital resources I can recommend for anyone looking to create a spending plan. Mint and You Need A Budget are both digital budgeting software systems that will help you set up and track your monthly budget. From my personal experience, I enjoy Mint, and my family uses their free version. Amber Dugger really appreciates YNAB and uses it with her clients.Creating a Spending Plan: At Peace With Money

Though this article mentions only a few strategies, budgeting and spending plans can be as simple or complex as you need them to be. I encourage you to do more research if you’re interested. I recommend this article from Practical Money Skills and this podcast from Jen Hemphill as two helpful resources. In a later post, I will be putting together a list of some of my favorite resources for financial self-education.

I hope you find these spending strategies useful. Stay thrifty!

Angela

Images:Camille Orgel, Unknown

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

Keep This Financial Advice in Mind While Car Shopping

Keep-This-Financial-Advice-in-Mind-When-Shopping-for-a-Car: At Peace with Money

Recently, my sister called me to ask for some financial advice while car shopping. I suggested that she keep in mind the big picture of her life. It’s easy to get distracted by the shiny new gadgets on a new car and to think you need them or that upgrading a bit won’t make much difference.

However, if you step back to remember what it is you are working towards, that can help you evaluate your financial priorities and clarify your decision-making. It may be important to you to drive a new energy efficient car, or maybe you’re working toward early retirement. Perhaps you have kids or parents you want to provide for.

During the car buying process,  it’s easy to get sucked in and forget those priorities. Suddenly you might find yourself thinking, “I deserve this fancy ride.” Sometimes salespeople attempt to entice you by spreading out payments over just one more year. All kinds of trickery and tomfoolery can be found at car dealerships!

Keep-this-in-mind-while-car-shopping At Peace With MoneyYour goal is to avoid that, and focus in on your needs and financial priorities. You do not want to be that person who is excited about their new car for the first 6 months– that is, until you realize you don’t have funds for that once-in-a-lifetime vacation. My sister realized her most important goals are to fund retirement and to keep her work schedule flexible. Keeping those life goals in mind helped her reach a decision she felt good about. Maintaining a sense of financial clarity goes a long way while car shopping!


Angela

Image Sources: Mitch Rosen, Tuce

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