financial education resources

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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

A Brief Guide to Finding the Right Financial Advice

Determining what kind of financial advice you’re really looking for is more important that you might suspect. A lot advice out there is targeted to people who already are or who want to be wealthy. If the advice you’re trying to follow is geared towards a vision that ultimately differs from yours, that can be an issue.The fact that so many financial resources assume their audience has a certain income level is also an issue. If you’re looking for financial help but you can only find resources that are geared towards people who make $50,000 more than you, you’re going to feel left in the dust.

One of my big goals with At Peace With Money is to help solopreneurs who don’t manage enormous accounts feel like they too can take steps down a helpful financial path. I strongly believe that no matter what amount of money you make, there are steps you can take to improve your situation and take care of yourself in the long term. I also believe you can do this without hugely sacrificing your quality of life. It doesn’t feel good to be chastised for your income level or your lifestyle, especially when class structure in the U.S. effects us in a way that means we are often not fully responsible for our financial standing. I don’t think that’s the role of financial advice anyway! Instead, good advice meets you where you’re at, and helps you get where you want to go.

 Know What You Need

Once you’ve decided to find financial advice resources that are relevant to your lifestyle, it’s important to know where you’re at personally. So, be sure to check in with your own finances. If you need a simple process to get clear, check out my Three Steps to Financial Clarity exercise.

Once you’ve done that, you should have a clear idea of your current income level and your hopes for your financial future. Both of these things will help you determine what financial resources are best for you. At the beginning of your journey, you might not be interested in people who talk about managing large investments. That can always come later! Instead, you might be interested in resources that cater specifically to small businesses just getting started, or people who’ve just opened an IRA.

Find Your Teachers

Now it’s time to find some good resources that meet your criteria. Some googling might help with this, but you can also check out my post on my favorite resources. There are tons of people and helpful guides out there. If Suze Orman’s not your style, don’t let her throw you off the path of learning how to make and manage wealth. You don’t have to already be making $100K a year or give up coffee forever to invest in your future – I promise.

I hope this guide has been helpful for you! If you like these ideas or you’d like to work with me for a little guidance, head on over to my Services page, where you can book a call with me.

Angela

Image Source:  Sharon McCutcheon , Luis Quintero

To Find Clarity and Focus, Do a Mid-Year Review Pt. II

This is part two of a two-part series on doing a mid-year review of your business! You can find part one here

So, now that you’ve reviewed your work so far and adapted your strategies and goals appropriately, it’s time for the next few steps. These are intended to really up the feeling of getting a fresh start, while enjoying your business for what it is: a way to meet your life goals.

Refresh

For an extra dash of clarity and focus, include a refresh in your review process! Now is the time to do whatever necessary maintenance you might need to grease the wheels of your business. You might clean your workspace, clear your inbox, or centralize your passwords. Attend to your physical and digital spaces. Check in with your finances, and schedule an appointment with a bookkeeper. 

This is usually my favorite part of the review process, because I make time to do all the little things that have been nagging me, like scheduling lower priority appointments, finding that one piece of paper, and sometimes making a new goal chart for myself. Giving yourself the time and space to get organized can save you time and effort down the road. It can also add ease to your everyday business functions – which is an added bonus!

Celebrate

Go back to step one, and take stock again of all you’ve done this year, including this review process. Chances are, you will find you’ve done quite a bit of work towards your goals, no matter how close you might be to completing them! Take some time to celebrate all the work you’ve done. Treat yourself to an afternoon off, a fun or inspiring event, or whatever you’d like to do to celebrate your achievements so far! Being a self-starting solopreneur is hard work. If you’ve done the work, you deserve to cheer yourself on once in a while.

If you busted through this whole review process, congratulations. I’d love to hear from you about how your business functions going forward, or if there are any little things you’ve added to the process. Just leave a comment below or shoot me an email at angela {at} atpeacewithmoney.com. If you think you could benefit from working through this process with an accountability partner, you know where to find me – just check in on my Services page.

Angela

Image Source: Emma Matthews

To Find Clarity and Focus, Do a Mid-Year Review

Goal motivational quote

We’re six months down the line. How are you doing with your goals? Have you totally crushed them, worked on them bit by bit, or are you not sure? In the thick of things, sometimes our focus on our goals can get a little murky. Here’s the first two steps of a two part series on doing a mid-year review. Let’s jump in:

Review

Step one in a mid-year review is the review, of course! When you take a look at the goals you’re working towards, it’s easy to get bogged down by focusing on what you still need to do. Instead, train your focus on what you’ve already done.

Start by making a list of milestones you’ve hit or steps you’ve completed. Rifle through your day planner or old to-do lists if you need a refresher. Go back through the year, month by month.

Now, it’s time for a little introspection. Take stock of all the actions you’ve taken towards your goals, and then ask yourself a few questions: How do I feel about this goal? Do I still want to achieve it by the end of the year? Is that feasible? At what pace have I been able to work toward this? What’s my capacity been like?

Don’t be afraid to drop things or add new things. Some goals may simply no longer excite you, or you may have realized that another achievement is more important or time sensitive.

During this review process, it’s also helpful to take a look at the systems and work routines you have in place for your business. For example, you may have set an intention to review your numbers once a week, or you may be trying out the Profit First system. Evaluate the effectiveness of your systems and routines. Are they working for you? Do you have time to do these things? Are you consistent? You may find that your routines need to be simplified or tweaked to be more pleasant. Or, you might find that your systems and routines are working just fine! Both are vital evidence when checking in on your business.

Learn and Adapt

Next, it’s time to use all of that evidence you’ve gathered to adapt your goals and practices. First, notice if you have any goals that you are either discarding or adding. Next, examine the pace at which you’ve worked on your goals. These pieces are important when it comes to planning out the rest of your year.

I recommend drawing or writing out a map for the next six months. Include any events relevant to your business, like conferences, trade shows, or gallery openings. Then, begin to write in milestones you hope to meet in the next six months. Make sure these are realistic! Don’t pressure yourself to level up in three months if it took you six to get where you are now. Instead, allow yourself the space and time to achieve things incrementally.

When you’re making your plan, be sure to adapt your goals to what’s worked so far this year. If you really love a certain routine or feel fired up to keep working toward a certain goal, go for it. If you’ve stalled on a project because you need to do more research, carve out some time to go back to the drawing board. When charting your course, keep your own needs and preferences in mind.

The next two steps will coming out in part two of the series, but I think this gives you enough to chew on for now! If you haven’t yet set goals for your business, or would like some more help thinking them through, check out my article Set Informed Income Goals. And of course, I am happy to walk through the goal setting process with you. All three of my service packages are focused on helping you set, work towards, and achieve goals. If you find you might appreciate some accountability or guidance, head on over to my Services page and schedule a curiosity call

Angela

Image Source:  S O C I A L . C U T

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

Getting Health Insurance If You’re A Solopreneur

Health insurance is often one of the biggest reasons people cite when they talk about why they don’t leave their job to start something of their own. Having your basic health needs covered contributes to the peace of mind and focus you need to really run a business. Figuring out health insurance on your own might seem scary, but it’s not impossible. In fact, about 18 million people buy health insurance on their own. So how can a solopreneur find health insurance that works for them?

Well, I did a little digging and came up with a couple ideas, plus a lot of resources. Here are my findings:

Don’t Freak Out About Numbers

If the sheer cost of health insurance is what scares you, this might calm your nerves. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2016, the average American holding a federal Marketplace plan paid $106 per month, after subsidies. Of course your individual costs will differ depending on your situation, but I like to throw out a statistic just to help us all relax.

Assess Your Situation

Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty. What is your situation, and what are your needs? Are you able to qualify for subsidies through the ACA? Do you qualify for COBRA coverage? Do you qualify for Medicaid and CHIP programs in your state? (Note: These are all links to Healthcare.gov which you can click on for more info on each type of coverage)

How many people are you trying to insure? If you have a spouse, can you get on their plan at low or no cost? Determine what your needs are, what you qualify for, and any special concerns you have. Once you’ve got that information, you can begin the next step.

Shop Around

Once you’ve established your needs and what you qualify for, it’s time to shop around. There are an incredible amount of options when it comes to solopreneur healthcare. If you’ve explored the marketplace options above and found none of them work, it’s worth looking into the various group options available to you. These include the Freelancers Union, which offers a range of plans. There are also some religious groups who have ventured into buying group insurance through a money pooling system. If you’re interested in this option, check out the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, Health Share, and Samaritan Ministries. There are also often local professional groups or organizations that offer group health plans. It’s worth looking into any local options that might exist in your area. Finally, you can get healthcare as a business, if you are a legally registered business.

Another option to compare is taking a high deductible plan that includes a health savings account, or HSA. HSAs allow you to put money away in a tax-sheltered account, meaning you can save up for medical emergencies without being penalized come tax time.

Sometimes it can be helpful to talk to an insurance broker who represents various companies and go through all the different options with you. As you can see, there are quite a few. The more you look and compare, the more likely you are to find an affordable plan that works best for you.

How To Get Health Insurance As A Solopreneur: At Peace With MoneyFurther Reading

For further reading on the topic of health insurance, I recommend a couple articles. “Health Insurance For Freelancers: 12 Viable Options,”“How To Save On Health Insurance as a Freelancer in the Trump Era”, “Health Insurance for the Self-Employed”, “Health Insurance for Creatives”, “5 Places to Find Health Insurance for Freelancers and the Self-Employed” and HealthCare.gov are all current, helpful resources. They contain even more information about unions, group plans, short term plans, and the particulars of the ACA. If you feel like you need a broad explanation, check out the videos “Health Insurance Terms You Need to Know (In The U.S.)” and “The Structure and Cost of U.S. Health Care”.

Phew! Well, I hope that’s enough information to get you started. There’s certainly a lot to know about the ins and outs of health insurance, but that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing the solopreneur life you dream about. If you’re interested in talking to me about the financial particulars of your business, check out my Services page and schedule a call! I hope these resources empower you to shape your life the way you want to.

Angela

Image:  Rodion Kutsaev

Book Review: The Art of Money by Bari Tessler

Book Review: The Art of Money By Bari Tessler

If you read my newsletter (you can sign up by clicking here) then you know that this month, I’m focusing on how we can love ourselves through our money. This idea touches on financial self care, but also folds in the idea that looking after our finances can be a pleasant and loving thing we do in our lives.

If there is a book that captures that sentiment, The Art of Money by Financial Therapist Bari Tessler is it. This is one of the first books that I read when I became interested in adding financial coaching to my bookkeeping practice.  While I know that I have a talent for helping people with their money systems, Bari Tessler has a talent for helping people go deeper in their relationship with money.  If you have ever listened to Bari speak on her podcast, you can clearly hear her voice in this book. She truly makes doing emotional work around money feel like a safe space.

She lays the process out in three phases and includes many useful practices in each area. Her first phase gently lays out a process to understand and heal your feelings and your history around your money past. She utilizes her training in somatic psychology to help facilitate this process.

In phase two, she covers the practical side of dealing with money.  Here she includes something we’ll explore later this month: money dates, or spending intentional time working on your finances, in a pleasant way. She also talks about setting up money systems and assembling your support team – whether that is professional help or a money buddy.

Her final phase deals with goals, dreams and plans.  Her philosophy holds that when you have healed your relationship with money and have tools in place to address it, you can start to see the bigger picture and how your dreams can become reality. This book can be a great resource, but particularly if you have money beliefs or blocks that are holding you back. It provides support and practical tools to heal and move forward with improved financial self care.  My posts this month will feature other ideas and support around this topic. If you are ready for  more in-depth help around your money systems, I invite you to reach out and schedule a call.

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