Tag Archives: personal finance

Who am I? Who’re you?

DSC_0006-001At this very moment, I am a wife, mother, sister, friend, cousin, aunt, niece, Financial Coach and aspiring personal coach.  My overarching goal in life is to define and live it on my terms in ways that align with my values and to help others do the same.  Whoa.

What are my values?  Above all, I value connection and collaboration.  Like it or not, each of us is part of an interconnected fabric involving all of the people, places and things in this world.  As creatures among those atop the food chain, we have tremendous power. With tremendous power, to paraphrase, comes tremendous responsibility.  We owe it to the other fibers of our fabric to be respectful and careful with our interactions with them.  I don’t mean careful as in cautious, I mean careful as “care full” full of care.  Considerate of the potential impact of our words and actions on those creatures and elements around us.    That means we do good where we can, when we can and in whatever ways we can.

For those of the Christian faith, and I’m just not sure right now but I believe this, take the words of Matthew 22:39 “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  No matter how important society sees you, you’re just another part of the world with an obligation to sustain the resources we currently enjoy for our successors.  If you cannot do good, at least do no harm.   It’s a simple concept and the core of my self.

How does this value fit into my roles:

As a Family Member:  I do my very best to let my family know how much I love them every single day.  I show my children that love doesn’t mean lenient, it means teaching lessons, sharing my core value of treating others the way I want to be treated.  Whether they treat me that way or not, I treat them the way I’d like.  If the interactions continue to be negative, it’s okay – even healthy – to cut ties and establish distance.  It is my sincere hope that my love for my family is reflected in everything I do with and for them, every day.

As a Coach:  If I’m your coach, we’re a team.  We will work together as long as it takes to move from whatever place you are in to whatever place you want to be.    The key point is that you’re the driver.  I’m just helping you draw and read the map.  And I know you’re a great driver so I’ll help you see that too.

Sharing what I have is integral to me.  I’ve been blessed with a fantastic husband and some awesome kids.  We have learned a lot of life and money lessons the hard way.  It hasn’t been easy for the last 20 years but it has been worth every second.  And I now know things that can help you sidestep some of the problems that tripped us up along the way.

I am thankful for the blessings that come when my path crosses others and we can walk together for awhile.    Join me?  Leave a comment telling me “Who are you?” or write it up in your own blog and leave  me a link.

Make today Amazing!

 

Lisa

How Obsessions Get Unhealthy

Healthy habits are a great thing until they get out of control.  Learn about my unhealthy obsession with my debt snowball.

I recently, thankfully, went back to work full-time.  My working full time is a great thing mentally and financially for our family.  I painstakingly and repeatedly analyzed our financial situation and developed our own personal debt snowball.  I can look at this beautiful Excel sheet and see the exact month and year that we will be debt free.  Imagine!

Therein is the problem.  Knowing that date, my type-A self wants it to be faster.  So, because I have developed the ability to tactfully say “you need to get a job” by phrasing it as “you need to find more ways to bring money into your home”, that phrase has become my obsession.  I want to bring money into our home (increase our income) so we can pay that debt down sooner.

Ways to bring money into your home, in truth, don’t actually have to increase income, they just need to make better use of the dollars you have.  They could include more money, but using coupons more, comparison shopping, breaking bad money habits would all apply.

When it comes to coupons, I have a love hate relationship with them.  I love having one I can use, but hate digging through newspapers and websites to find them.  I also don’t have many options for grocery shopping within about 15 miles.  Am I wrong to think that driving 30 minutes plus for groceries probably negates any money I’d save?  I use rebates when I can, those are easy.  But, in general I find coupons a pain in the ass.  I also try to avoid the over-processed, pre-packaged, nutritionally vacant foods that most coupons are for.

So what is the answer?    Do I divert my thoughts from the debt snowball by having a little fun and enjoying life – maybe pushing back that debt snowball debt free date in the process?  Or do I seek sources of more passive income.  I mean a second job would be horrible for the family and family time.  Something flexible?  Consulting?  Freelance?  MLM Sales?  (Then find a company that my values align with or that I actually like the products for which isn’t hard but…  is that me?)

If I challenged you to increase your income 20%, which would you choose?

5 Simple Ways to Develop a Healthy Relationship With Your Money

The best and worst thing about money is there’s no such thing as too much.  Nearly everyone, especially yours truly, can think of ways to spend cash that has yet to be earned.  Sometimes, the problem is nowhere near enough money and that can stress your health, your relationships and your work.  The most important thing is to develop a healthy financial view.  Here’s how (and like always, I keep it simple).

1.  Know where your money comes from and where it goes.  Simply put,  have a spending plan.  Spending plan is a kinder, gentler word for a budget.   Use it. Especially if “budget” leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth or, in extreme cases, causes  heart palpitations.  Budget seems strict and rigid.  A spending plan is a proactive approach to getting where you want to be from where you are financially.

2.  Understand your bank’s fees so you can avoid paying them.  I recently discovered a $5 “bill pay” charge from my bank.  I pay my bills online, but I don’t use my bank’s bill pay service?  Why am I being charged for that?  Don’t be afraid to ask the question.   I also avoid ATM fees at all costs thanks to a network of convenience stores that all feature “No Fee” ATMs.  Some banks refund out of network fees.  Learn your bank’s policy.

3.  Learn to read and understand your credit report.  You can get one annually from each of the three major agencies from www.annualcreditreport.com.  If you’ve never done this, get all three at once the first time.  Then, starting a year from now, pull from one agency every three months to make sure your reports are accurate.  If you need help, that’s why I am here.  Or any credit counseling service in your area will assist you. Your bank should too.

4.  Know your score.  Your credit score is available on demand from CreditKarma.com.  This great, free tool also shows you how to improve your score if that’s necessary.

5.  Relax.  These simple steps will put you in control of your money than having your money control you.  Knowing where you’re at financially will help you identify areas where you can save money or possibly bring more money into your life through making frugal choices, leveraging your talents to earn extra cash or deciding on other ways to increase income.

If I can help, you know where to find me.

20 Minute Challenge Update

This week, I have been working on organizing paper after realizing (to my sheer horror) that I forgot to pay a bill on the 15th.  Grr…

So I have been putting our financial house in order with Mint.com.  For those of you unfamiliar with this free webservice, it is owned by Intuit, the company that owns Turbo Tax (my filing software for the last… oh forever, but there are other great free options if you need them – just ask) and Quicken.  I am a slightly disgruntled former Quicken user because Quicken went away when Intuit bought Mint.  But, Mint works.  But it’s not Quicken It works just fine.  It even works with my Po-dunk little bank and brings all our accounts under one roof.  Student Loans included.  Setting all that up was my 20 minutes this morning.  By twenty minutes, I mean an hour because I had forgotten all my logins and had to call to get them reset.  Fun.  Times.  (Question:  How do you track fifty different logins and passwords?  I try to keep them mostly the same but it’s just not always possible.  Leave me a tip in the comments?  PLEASE?)

Features of Mint include income and expense tracking, automatic updating of accounts when you log in and, of course, budgeting and goal-setting and tracking features.  I’m sorry to tell you that you’ll get an e-mail when you exceed your budget.  That being said, round up for your loan payments when you enter the budgeted amounts or Mint will round down and every single month you’ll be over budget.  It’s kind of annoying, but the work around is simple.  I just explained it.

Consolidating all our accounts in one place makes it easier to get a snapshot of our current situation.  Good thing.  I set up a goal for an emergency fund, a travel fund and our plan to pay cash for a house.  It even has a Debt Snowball Feature!  Look under Goals and select consolidate loans and/or consolidate credit cards as appropriate.  Thankfully, we don’t use credit cards so we don’t have that to worry about.  Just student loans.  Lots and lots of student loans.

So as it sits right now, I have organized our money so that DH and I can sit down and have a little chat about where we are, where we want to go and what we’re willing to do to get there.  Do you do that?  How often?  Are you on track?  We’re moving the right way, but I’d like to be moving a little faster.  I feel really strange having done this cleanup.  Light in some ways, heavy in others.  Honest here?  Every time I think about my student loans, I feel a little nauseated.  All that money and for what?  Now, to claroify, I don’t regret my education but I sure wish I wouldn’t have had to take on all that debt to finance it – especially the masters which I haven’t exactly leveraged since I got it.  I love learning, but dayum that cost a lot of money.

Is your financial house in order?  Did you ever have an awakening about your money?  How’d it go?  I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

One more question:  What’s a reasonable grocery budget for a family of six?  I am thinking about trying to keep it under my hubby’s BAS.  Am I nuts?