How to Turn the Tables on Your Budget

How to Turn the Tables on Your Budget%0D

Ladies, it pains me to tell you that we are more confident in our ability to follow a budget than to invest our money and allow it to work for us.  A recent BlackRock study revealed that 61% of women follow a household budget but only 45% of women have investments.  What’s worse is that only 22% of women consider themselves as an investor.  So why are we so comfortable with saving money yet unwilling to get comfortable with a strategy for making it grow?  Here are four tips you can follow to turn the tables on your disciplined approach to budgeting and savings:

  1. Understand your risk – The risk of losing money is typically the number one reason why women choose not to invest. When you’ve heard a negative story from a loved one’s past experience you may be scared to dip your toes in the water.  However, keep in mind that your goal should be to build a portfolio that’s right for you and, in many cases, those bad stories were told by someone who was likely taking too much risk to begin with.  If you’re nervous, don’t lose sight of the fact that there are lower-risk investments that carry the potential to make you more than your savings account or CD at your local bank.  If you invest with the attitude that markets will be choppy, you have the option of building a more defensive portfolio that meets your needs.   My advice is to never take more risk that you are comfortable with and learn how different types of risk could actually affect you.
  1. Get educated – Another popular reason why I find women don’t invest is because they don’t even know what investing really means. It all seems so overwhelming – but it doesn’t have to be!  You should know the difference between a stock and a bond.  A stock is when you own a piece (aka, “share”) of a company.  The more shares you own, the bigger amount of ownership you have.  If the company you buy makes money, your stock price goes up and vice versa.   When you are buying a bond, you are actually loaning money to a company.  For instance, if you buy a bond for $1,000, you are handing over that money to the company with their promise that they will pay it back to you at a later date and, in the meantime, they will pay you a paycheck (aka, a “coupon payment” or “income payment”) until they return your money.  Now there are some more details you’ll obviously want to brush up on before buying a stock or bond, but it’s really not so difficult.  I can help explain these concepts to you and bring you up-to-speed on other things you’ll want to know if you’d like.
  1. Consider a systematic approach to investing – One of the easiest and most effective ways to invest is through a concept called “dollar-cost-averaging.” Don’t be intimidated by the name because it’s actually really simple.  The approach is to invest a fixed amount of money into an investment at regular intervals (like every pay period or every month).  By systematically investing the same amount each period you’ll spread your purchases over time, and your average buying price per share should be lower than if you had invested the money at one time.  This long-term strategy also takes much of the emotion and guesswork out of investing in the market.  It helps you avoid the most common mistake investors make by being tempted to jump in when the market is rising or selling out when the markets take a tumble.  Another plus is that it helps keep you on track toward meeting your long-term savings goals.
  1. Don’t set it and forget it – My grandparents used to use the “buy and hold” strategy and it really worked for them. These days, however, you must be looking at your investments and reviewing your strategy at least twice per year.  Markets move quickly and if you aren’t interested in keeping track yourself, you’ll need an expert advisor on your side who can do it for you.  I’m happy to review your current investments and give you some advice if you’re interested.

My name is Valerie Leonard and I’ve got a reputation for helping women invest using strategies that can help them reach their goals.  If you’re ready to learn more about gaining confidence and building an investment strategy that could help grow your money, contact me today.


Source: BlackRock Global Investor Pulse Survey, July/August 2015

Disclosure:  Dollar-cost averaging is not a foolproof investment technique. It does not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets. It involves continuous investment in variably priced units, regardless of price fluctuations. Investors contemplating the use of dollar-cost averaging should consider their ability to continue purchases over a period of time even when prices are low.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

The Truth About the Bridge from Here to There

The Truth About the Bridge from Here to There

You’ve painted a picture in your head of what your life would be like if you accomplished a certain financial goal, haven’t you?  You keep saying, “if I could just [fill in the blank] then things will be different.”  You’ve seen other people do it and you know it’s possible.  But how confident are you that you have the best plan to get you there?  Before wasting any more time or effort, you need to know a little something about the bridge you want to cross.

  1. Someone else has been in your shoes – Even though no one wants to hear it, there comes a point in life where you are truly able to say, “if I only knew then what I know now.” As a financial advisor, my mission is to take my own personal lessons in life and money and help people avoid the mistakes I’ve made and achieve their dreams faster than I was able to.  Life has taught me that experience is valuable and the people who have guided me made all the difference.  That bridge is a lot sturdier when you’re able to lean on someone who can truly say, “I’ve been where you’ve been and I know how to get you where you want to go.”
  1. Perception and reality are never equal – Don’t be fooled into thinking your financial dreams will ever actually come true. What is more likely to materialize, however, is a variation of your dream.  If you hold so tightly to the idea that joy or happiness will be found when the perfect version of your goal is achieved, you probably won’t discover it.  If you accept now that the destination on the other side of your bridge will most definitely look different than you expect, you’ll be emotionally prepared to embrace your life for what it is!
  1. Bridges are built by engineers – The famous Bay Bridge in San Francisco was recently finalized and was built to withstand massive earthquakes. Have you heard about the $6.4 billion controversy surrounding the politicians and project managers who caused construction to exceed the original estimated $1.3 billion cost?  The point?  It’s never a good idea to build a bridge without a plan and accountability partner. You’re going to run into issues you couldn’t foresee and you’re going to want someone who can keep you on track, especially when times get tough.

My name is Valerie Leonard and I’d like to help get you from here to there.  I’m a mom, owner of multiple businesses and I’m also your not-so-traditional financial advisor.  I think I can share a better way to get there.  Contact me so we can head out on that bridge together.


Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

How to Conquer Your Credit Card Debt More Quickly

How-to-Conquer-Your-Credit-Card-Debt-More-Quickly

If you haven’t been able to pay off your credit cards, don’t lose hope.  The reasons why people can’t seem to live a debt-free life often point back to psychology.  Think about it – you have every company in the world vying for every penny you make and their advertising budgets are massive.  The cards are definitely stacked against you – but don’t give up!  These simple tips can help you pay off your balances faster while giving you confidence that you’re winning the debt battle.

  1. Make a promise to yourself – Start by establishing a monthly amount you are willing to pay toward all your credit cards over and above the minimum payments. There’s no rule about how much you should pay above the minimum so start with what you can afford.  The more you can commit, the faster you’ll pay your cards off so try and challenge yourself a bit.  But keep in mind that you don’t want to get into a crunch because you’ve overcommitted.  Paying off cards is a discipline and you need to be able to stick to the amount and the promise you’ve made yourself.
  1. Focus on the card with the lowest balance first – Some advisors will tell you you’ll save money by focusing on the card with the highest rate first, which may be true, but I actually recommend another strategy that uses reverse psychology to your advantage. If you can knock out just one card, you’ll feel like you’re winning!  So how do you do it successfully?  Start by paying the minimum payments on all credit cards except the one with the lowest balance.  On it, you’ll want to make the minimum payment plus the extra amount you’ve committed to paying on debt each month.  All that extra should go to this one card.  Continue doing this until the balance is paid off entirely.  Once you’ve paid it off, [celebrate!!! then] take the full amount you were paying on that card (the minimum payment plus the extra) and start focusing on the next card with the lowest balance.  This means you’ll be paying the total payment from the first card plus the minimum payment on the second card.  You’ll be able to knock this one out much faster than you think!
  1. Stop charging – You owe it to yourself to permanently save the money that you’ve been paying on those cards! Think about how much money you’d have extra each month if they were gone!  Don’t let yourself be fooled by zero percent offers, travel points or the old adage that credit cards are there for emergencies.  Even the mentality that you need to keep a card for a rental car can be detrimental to your financial health.   If you don’t use them, you won’t be a slave to the baggage and stress they can bring to your life.  Try a little non-traditional thinking and you can truly be credit card debt-free forever.

If you need an accountability partner or have questions, reach out to me.  My mission is to help Americans live a better life and I’d like to see you succeed at a debt-free life.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.