Four Ways to Get Ahead in the New Year

2017-goals-photoLet’s look at how you can get ahead in 2017 by focusing on short, bite-sized goals that are easy to meet. Here are four things you can knock out today to set yourself up for financial success this year:

  1. Sit down and add up all the expenses you expect to have in the next 30 days. Take into account any spending money you may need and try to limit your discretionary spending for the next 30 days. Cut back on anything that is not necessary for the next month.
  2. Make a list of all your debt balance, minimum monthly payment amounts, and interest rates.
  3. Compare the income you expect to receive over the next 30 days to your expenses. Determine whether you expect to have any money left over once all expenses are paid. If so, plan to use the extra money toward your debt, focusing on the account with the lowest balance first. If you don’t have any money left over, see whether you can raise some money by selling something you no longer need, doing an odd job for someone, or taking on a second temporary job.
  4. Mark your calendar for 30 days from today to repeat this exercise. In the meantime, only worry about what you can do to take control of your finances for this month. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to look too far into your future. Seize the day!

As always, I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

3 Things You Need to Hear but Don’t Want to

12436236_10153860979392650_1672561612_oThey say the truth hurts.  It’s a hard pill to swallow – like the time my two-year-old recently pointed out that she’s excited to see I’m going to have another baby.  “No, honey.  No baby in this belly,” and thanks for pointing out that I’m obviously fat!

But don’t you think that cutting out the crap and getting to the meat and potatoes of this life is really all that’s important?  Think about it.  Maybe I do need some exercise.  Maybe I do need to hear something that makes me cringe.  After all, the friend who will tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear, is the best friend of all.

So here’s the meat and potatoes – after 13+ years as a financial advisor, I’m still blown away by the people who just don’t get it.  The story is almost always the same…it’s a couple who has decent income, they don’t live extravagantly, one’s a spender and one’s decent with money, they have some debt, are underfunded for retirement and college savings, and they don’t understand that it won’t just all come together perfectly.  The hard truth:

  1. Debt kills you.
  2. Savings won’t just happen one day.
  3. It doesn’t ever get cheaper to live.

None of these people are dumb.  They’re just living the way society tells us we all should live.  It’s peer pressure at its’ core and it’s contagious!

Have you ever seriously thought about what it would be like to have zero debt?  How much would it cost you to live?  What if all you had to pay for were utilities, clothes, and food?  Would you have to save as much for retirement?  Would you have to work as many hours as you do now?

Did you know it’s entirely possible to pay off your mortgage in 5 years? What about your car payment?  Wouldn’t it be easier to not have one and pay for every car in the future with cash?  With proper planning in place, these are all realistic examples of goals that can be accomplished without being rich.

Food (meat and potatoes) for thought…

If you liked this or know someone who would, subscribe and share away!  ~Val

Following Your Dreams May Not Be as Hard as You Think

Rob and I have always loved to travel.  I remember when I was pregnant with Jake he visited over 10 states and two countries all while he was in my belly!  Travel is exhilarating to me!  I love seeing new places, observing how people outside of Alabama live their lives, and taste new foods!  Right now, I’m on a mission to see all 50 states and expose the kiddos to the world around them before they turn 18.  This is definitely on my bucket list!

I often wonder what other people dream about…what types of things are on their bucket lists? It’s crazy how you can’t visit a social media site these days without hearing about a friend’s trip to some really cool place.  Perhaps you want to travel somewhere that seems to be out of reach right now?  Here’s some tips to turn that dream into a reality…

  1. Check out Bucketlist.org, a website dedicated to people’s dreams.  You can create a list of your own to check off items as you accomplish them or you can see what other people have on their lists.  The most popular bucket list dreams include swimming with dolphins, going on a cruise, and throwing a dart at a map to select a travel destination.
  2. Devote time to making it happen – Sometimes money isn’t always what stops us from traveling or reaching our dreams.  If you want to learn a new language, maybe today is the day to purchase Rosetta Stone or  sign up for a class.  If you need to save for a trip, set a goal and start planning.  There are all sorts of fun things you can plan while you allow your savings to accumulate.  Have you been wanting to take more pictures?  Challenge yourself to snap a picture every day for a year.  Go grab your camera right now and get started!  Why wait?
  3. Learn to budget – No one is too smart or rich for a budget!  If you track where you money is going, you’ll be in a position to make the most of it.  You get to control where your discretionary money goes, not someone else.  You’ll be more motivated to avoid impulse purchases if you know you’re working toward something you really want!

For more tips on turning your dreams into reality, visit my facebook page!  I’d love to hear about your bucket list and the inspiring things you’re doing to turn them into reality!