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Financial Advice: How to Avoid the Bad and Find the Good

Financial advice is important, but the wrong resources can steer you in a rough direction. You don’t want the resources you’re looking at to lead you to a place of boredom or despair due to unrealistic goals. Last time, I gave some tips on finding the right financial advice for you, but today I want to break down some red flags to avoid. Then, we’ll look at some signs that show you’re on the right path!

How to Discern an Unhelpful Resources

A financial resource may not be right for you if:

  • The resource is targeted to an income level higher than yours. Even if you aspire to increase your income, financial advice will provide you with feasible next steps if it acknowledges your starting point. Starting out by reading investing guides for people with a $100k to distribute might leave you feeling alienated.
  • The resource chastises you or shames you for habits or behaviors. While many of us do carry emotional baggage around money, I firmly believe we should not be put down for this, or for our financial habits. Shame and blame do not facilitate financial learning. If a resource is telling you to quit things that make life enjoyable, or scrimp every penny as a path to wealth, evaluate these strategies carefully.
  • The resource uses financial jargon you don’t understand. Something like this can quickly lead you to boredom or discouragement. You can always look up the vocabulary words you don’t know, but finding something more accessible makes for a more pleasant and sustainable learning experience.
  • The resource doesn’t reflect your vision for your business or personal finances. Not everyone needs or wants piles of cash – so you won’t enjoy a book about how to get that if that’s not what you want!

Signs the Resource is a Good Fit

Alright, we’ve looked at red flags, now let’s talk green flags. A resource can be great for you if:

  • The resource acknowledges and takes time to help you work on your emotional stories and stressors around money. (One of my faves for this is The Art of Money by Bari Tessler)
  • The resource is accessible, easy to read or consume, and enjoyable. The more you want to come back to something or refer to it, the more helpful it will actually be!
  • The resource is tailored to your version of financial success and gives you steps for moving towards it.
  • The resource is targeted towards your income level.
  • The resource focuses on long-term solutions like mindset changes, money systems, and improved habits rather than “hacks” or penny-pinching.

If a resource ticks all these boxes for you, it will probably set you down the path to financial wellbeing! And it will feel a lot better than trying to read something that just isn’t for you. Next time, we’ll talk about starting the search for resources. For now, feel free to do some good ol’ googling. You can also check out my article on some of my favorite resources. I post more resources and video summaries of important concepts on Facebook, so check that out and see if you get green flags!

☮

Angela

Image Sources:  David Iskander, Thought Catalog

To Increase Your Earnings, Take Action

So, you’ve shifted your mindset: you see the potential for abundance and your life and you’re ready for the cash to roll in. But now what? It’s time to take action. By getting the wheels in motion, you get closer to earning what you deserve. This is the second in a series of posts on the seven strategies used by high earning women Barbara Stanny interviewed in her book Secrets of Six Figure Women. You can check out the first post on shifting to an abundance mindset here! According to Barbara’s insights, here are a couple action steps you’ll want to take. 

Step One: Get Clear

The first step is to get clear on where your finances are right now.  You need to know what you have in the bank, how much you are spending monthly, and what and whom you owe.  If you are currently ignoring this information, you cannot move forward until you face these numbers.  In her book, Barbara gives many examples of women who have changed their patterns with their finances.  Many had to stop overspending in various areas, some had to pay off credit card debt or stop using credit cards altogether.  But they all had to first examine their current behaviors and then think about where they wanted to end up and make the decision to make change. If you’d like a guide for this step, check out my post Three Steps to Financial Clarity

Step Two: Make a Change

Making changes may include trying new strategies with your spending and saving.  It may mean not using credit cards at all, or seeking out someone to partner with to make change, like a money buddy or accountability partner. One of the women interviewed actually set up a system of saving one third of her income, setting aside one third for taxes and living off of one third.  This may not be a feasible option for every income level, but setting up and automating some percentage of saving is a great place to begin. You can read my article about automation for more resources. The author points out that when you do make a change, “each step builds to the next, increasing confidence, competence and resources.” With that in mind, the best thing to do is pick an idea, try it, and see if it does some good for your financial situation. 

To Increase Earnings, Take Action title imageThree Keys

Once you’re on your way to making changes, it’s good to know the keys to managing your money. Barbara points out three key steps to successful money management: spend less than you earn, pay yourself first, and then put your money to work.  This last step is often the trickiest. Many people are tripped up by fear when it comes to investing and building wealth. That’s why we’ll going in depth about it next week, when we’ll talk about wealth building. I haven’t talked a whole lot about this here, beyond a few ideas about retirement prep, so I’m excited to get more into it!

If you think you’d be able to take more action with the guidance of an accountability partner, I’m always here to help. Take a look at my services, book a call, and let’s have a chat!

Angela

How to Set Informed Income Goals

How to Set Informed Income Goals: At Peace With Money

This article is the fourth in a month-long series on taking care of your finances as self-care. Specifically, I’m focusing on what you can do with your money to take care of yourself and improve your business in 2019. You can read the whole series by clicking here. 


One of my favorite sayings comes from the artist-turned-business mind Jennifer Armbrust: “A business is a needs-fulfillment machine.” Your business exists to support you; to fulfill your needs. However, if you don’t have a clear picture of what those needs are, it can be difficult for your business to fill them. This week, I’m suggesting that to really financially care for ourselves, we investigate the true costs of our lifestyles. By doing so, we will be able to make informed decisions about what income goals we’d like our businesses to meet. 

The Process

Time to take a realistic look at how much money you’re spending every month. Dig up the past three months of your bank and/or credit card statements. (For most of us, these should be available online). Go through line by line to see where your money is really going. Total up all the expense categories, i.e. groceries, utilities, rent, etc. 

Once you’ve got your totals, you have a realistic picture of how much money you need on a monthly basis. At this stage, you may find it helpful to look critically at your lifestyle, and see if there’s anything you’re interested in culling. If you’re looking for some ideas around creating a budget or spending plan, I’d recommend these articles of mine. Click here. 

Set Informed Goals

Whether you decide to create a spending plan and reign in your expenses, or feel satisfied with your lifestyle costs, you now have a complete picture of your financial needs. At this point, you can now set informed income goals that are designed to meet those needs in your personal life. Without this crucial information, your goals will just be shots in the dark, aimed at an amount of money that “sounds nice” but doesn’t tangibly satisfy a need.

Additionally, once your have this information, you can also take a look at how your business is doing in its current state. Is it making enough to support you? Whether you’ve got a side hustle or something you want to stretch into a full source of income, checking in with this question is important. If your answer is no, you can start to strategize around how you might close that gap. For more ideas on this, check out this post.

I hope this post inspires you to keep working to create a business that truly meets your needs. If you’d like to work with an accountability partner or need coaching around this, please check out my service packages and don’t be afraid to schedule a curiosity call!

Angela

Image Sources:  rawpixelMelissa Askew

Three Steps to Financial Clarity

3 Steps to Financial Clarity: At Peace With Money

As the holidays set in and the mad rush of preparation begins to slow, you might find yourself with a little time to reflect on your year. Why not take the opportunity to reflect on your finances? Your money, much like all the other pieces of your life, deserves your attention, thought, and critical eye. This exercise is meant to lead you to financial clarity. By completing it, you’ll gain a better understanding of what you want from your money, and how to get there.

Step 1: Define Your Destination

What’s your destination with your money? What are you planning to do with it? Is there something you’re saving up for? You might have vague plans, a well-defined roadmap, or nothing at all. This is the step where you can dream and imagine that destination. If you already have one in mind, check in and make sure it’s where you want to go. Make sure you investigate any current money goals you might have to make sure they really align with your desires. If you don’t have any goals, think of some you might like to adopt!

Step 2: Drop Your Pin

Pinpoint your current location. In other words, figure out where you are now financially.  It’s time to get clear and honest about what you have, what you owe and where your money is going each month. Use this step as an opportunity to total up your expenses and debts and track your recent income. Leave no bill unturned! If you want further instructions on this step, I recommend checking out my article on creating a spending plan, specifically the section on analyzing your expenses. 

Step 3: Plan Your Journey

3 Steps to Financial Clarity: At Peace With MoneyNow that you know where you are and where you’re going, it’s time to figure out how you’ll get there. This is the step where strategy comes in. Based on all the information you’ve already looked at during Step 2, you should be able to determine what will help you get to your destination. Whether that’s saving more money, paying yourself first, cutting out certain expenses, increasing your income, or a whole host of other ideas, identify your moves and decide when you’re going to make them. 

This process may take you a little while to complete, but it will ultimately bring you to a place of much greater clarity when it comes to your finances. This exercise can be applied to personal finances but it can also be applied to your business finances. I hope this season of reflection serves you well.

If you need any assistance looking through your finances, I’m happy to help you reach a place of clarity. Schedule a call with me!

Angela

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