Money Tips – No Brainers – Part 2
Some Help on the Road to Your Financial Independence
I mentioned last week that we have been writing and posting blogs consistently now for the last several months. The consistency of this process has really helped us stay current on new money trends and we hope that it is helping you too. I stumbled upon an article recently that listed several “no brainer” steps to help families “win” financially. None of them are truly “rocket science” but great reminders on things to add to your arsenal when you are handling your personal finances. I wrote about three of them last week and here are three more.
Always Be Insured
We don’t often talk about insurance as part of your financial package, but it is vitally important. Health, property, life, auto, home and umbrella liability packages are all necessary. Personally, I hate insurance and I hate to buy it but, when I need to make a claim, I am always thrilled that it is there. First, find yourself a good insurance agent – one that is willing to help and teach you about the proper coverages and why they may be necessary for you. If an agent isn’t willing to teach you about insurance, he isn’t the right agent for you.
Money Tips – No Brainers
Some Help on the Road to Your Financial Independence
We have been writing and posting blogs consistently now for the last several months. It has helped us stay current on lots of new money trends and we hope that it is helping you too. While doing my research this week, I found a listing of little “snippets” of money advice that I thought I would share with you. None of them are truly “rocket science” but great reminders on things to definitely DO when you are handling your personal finances.
Take Advantage of your Work 401k
When starting a new job, it is easy to think that you should wait to start investing. You haven’t even received your first paycheck and you are anxious to start making money! This is a no-brainer. Do it! Most employers offer a match to your contribution in some percentage. This is absolutely FREE money. Take advantage of this as quickly as possible and you will be amazed at how quickly it will grow. After a couple of paychecks, you won’t even miss the money that is being pulled out each payroll. It grows tax deferred plus your investment dollars are pulled out of your paycheck before you pay taxes on them. Saving taxes and saving for retirement. Do It!
Money and Millennial’s
Your future self will thank you
Last year I helped a group of people conduct a study on millennial’s and what keeps them in your area for employment purposes. It was a very interesting study into the mindset of our biggest employment group since the baby boomer generation. We pulled tons of statistics to complete the study and I pulled some of it out this weekend to get it filed away. As I was creating file folders for the data, I noticed a couple of items regarding millennial’s financial habits that I didn’t remember, and I thought I would share them with you.
- 54% of people in this age group eat out at least 3 times a week
- 30% of millennial’s say that they purchase coffee at least 3 times each week
- 51% say that they visit a bar at least one time per week
My first thought was to calculate out the price of a single coffee and project those monies being saved over the course of a lifetime! But, trying to save nickels and dimes is so frustrating. We talked a couple of weeks ago about how frustrating it is to save money and how it seems to take FOREVER to get a decent balance in your account. Telling a millennial to save $6 per week for 73 years will make them a millionaire isn’t going to cut it!
Three Things I Have Learned About Money
The Simplicity of Personal Finance
Over the course of the last several years, I have read a lot about personal finances and I have written a lot, as well. Here are three things that I have found to be true about money and how to best handle it in your life:
Savings is Good and Debt is Bad
This seems pretty basic – right? So many people want a big house and lots of stuff to put inside and just can’t help themselves. They find it very difficult to connect these behaviors with long termed negative consequences. I have said it a thousand times but every single dollar that you spend is a “yes” decision and a “no” decision. You are saying “yes” to your purchase and you are saying “no” to your savings account or debt reduction.
Transform Your Finances
Take it apart – Organize it – Put it back together
One of my favorite things to do is take a piece of furniture and transform it into something new. This has gotten to be quite popular for those of us DIYers. Another thing I love to do is completely change a room with a fresh coat of paint and rearrange the furniture. My husband makes fun of me for painting our house so many times. He says I’ve cut down the square footage with all the coats of paint. There’s probably some truth to that. And I can’t count the times I have rearranged our furniture which is another joke around our house.
Transforming something to a more efficient or organized manner can totally change your perspective, your mood and ,as studies have shown, your stress level.
As I thought about it more, I focused in on what we do at Hollander & Associates and it’s really very similar – We help our clients transform their finances. We take them apart, organize them and put them all back together in a more efficient and manageable manner. In essence, we make them pretty again. (Thank you, Nicole Curtis. For my fellow DIYers)
Start Your Emergency Fund – Part 2
It Takes Forever to Save up $1000
It seems like it takes forever to fill an emergency account and accumulate $1,000 in savings. As soon as I feel like I have a decent start at building my savings, something will happen, and I have to drain it and then start all over again. It is frustrating, and I always feel like it takes forever. This is one of the reasons why we encourage our clients to complete this necessary financial step QUICKLY. Get the money in the account and get it there fast. We provided three tips last week to help with this process and here are three more:
Rent out your home: Do you have an extra bedroom and wouldn’t mind renting it out for the weekend or the summer? Maybe you live in a college town and you could rent out a room for the school year or you may live near a vacation hot spot and could rent out a room for a weekend. Check out Airbnb and see if you could make an extra hundred (or thousand!) utilizing unused space in your home for concerts, sporting events or conventions.
Start Your Emergency Fund
It Takes Forever to Save up $1,000
Last week, we talked a little bit about the benefits and “secure” feeling you have when you have a little bit of money in the bank. Establishing an Emergency Fund is not easy and trying to save $50 each week can get you to your goal but it seems like it takes FOREVER to get there. If you put $50 into your Savings Account every week, it will take you pay periods to get there. If you get paid every other week, that means that it will take you 10 months! If you are anything like me, that would drive you a little crazy. Something – anything – will pop up during the next 10 months and will derail you and get you off track. Here are three quick suggestions for getting it done much quicker:
Sell something. Take a little trip into your basement, storage unit or attic. I am willing to bet that you have some furniture, household goods, decorations, “old stuff” that you don’t really need anymore. Sell it! Put it on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or any of the “buy/sell” sites and give yourself a little breathing room in your house and add the funds to your Emergency Fund.
Back to the Basics
Do you have an emergency fund?
Last week, I decided to go out and take a long walk. I have been trying to concentrate on healthier activities and so I took a little bit of time to take a 5 mile walk down the new Greenways Trail in St. Charles County. The morning was gorgeous. The temperature was brisk but the sun was bright and it felt great to be outside on the beautiful early spring morning.
When I got back to my truck to head home, it would not start. I put the key into the ignition and…nothing. The key would not turn at all. I tried everything and still nothing. I had to call a tow truck and had it taken to a repair shop that we have used frequently and trust. After all was said and done, the repairs were just a little more than $800. OUCH….I hated to shell out that kind of money for the repairs but, we pulled the money out of our Emergency Fund and paid the bill.
After I picked up my truck, I got to thinking about our Emergency Fund and how we have used it over the years. We have had unexpected medical expenses, car repairs and home repairs. After doing a little research, I found out that – in America – only 4 out of every 10 families would be able to handle an unexpected expense of $500 without using credit. The statistics astounded me!
A Few More Tips
One Simple Change
Last week’s blog post offered a few tips to help you “kick start” your financial strategies for 2018. We had a great response from several readers and so we thought we would provide a few additional tips.
Again, this isn’t intended to be a downer but – hopefully – a little wake up call. Remember all those New Year’s Resolutions that you made?? Lose a few pounds. Eat healthier. Get those finances in order. It is time to dust them off a little bit and get rejuvenated. It isn’t too late to start – take this as a helpful kick in the pants!
If you remember from last week, I sat next to a nutritionist at a networking event and she said that she encourages her clients to make “one simple change” to help push them toward better health. Her encouragement really resonated with me and I felt like it could apply to our financial health, as well. In most cases, people try to make a ton of changes at once and it just gets too hard to stay focused and dedicated to all the changes
90 Day Wake Up Call
One Simple Change
Do you want to know what is crazy? Today is the first day of Spring! Today is March 20, 2018 and we are almost 25% of the way through this calendar year. I blinked and just a few days ago, we were putting Christmas decorations away.
Time continues to march forward and before you know it, we will be celebrating The 4th of July, it will be 100 degrees outside and another three months will have ticked away on our calendar.
This isn’t intended to be a downer but – hopefully – a little wake up call. Remember all those New Year’s Resolutions that you made?? Lose a few pounds. Eat healthier. Get those finances in order. It is time to dust them off a little bit and get rejuvenated. It isn’t too late to start – take this as a helpful kick in the pants!
No one really enjoys putting a budget together. It hurts a little bit and we are all kids at heart – we don’t like being told “no” to something that we enjoy. We don’t want to be told that we shouldn’t go out to eat so often or spend money on the boat. If you aren’t any closer to hitting those financial goals than you were 3 months ago, it might be time to do a few things differently.
Financial Literacy Training 101
How did you learn about handling money?
Did your parents sit you down and teach you how to balance a checkbook or how to properly handle a budget? When did you learn to write a check or how to pay bills?
I don’t know about most of you, but these are discussions that I NEVER had with my parents. We never talked about money. As a matter of fact, I remember that my parent’s checkbook was locked up and we weren’t even allowed to look at it. “Money” was just something that we didn’t discuss in our family. We didn’t talk about paychecks or bills or budgets. I can remember when “things were tight” and we didn’t get to do extra things, but it was still never discussed.
Recently, the State of Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education passed a new standard that would require that all graduating high school students must earn ½ credit in Personal Finance. The new standards stated the districts should begin establishing local curriculum to meet these standards beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.
Reach Your Financial Goals
Finances Have Very Little to do With Money
I was scanning the internet over the weekend to find a new topic to discuss. Something popular – something that was currently trending.
I came across an article that was filled with valuable information but it didn’t have anything to do with finances and so I moved on to the next article and scanned some more. After a few more clicks, I came back to the first article and read it again. The article was specific to helping people achieve their goals and aligning their personal goals with new behaviors. It hit me solid – As we work with families, the struggle with finances has very little do with money and more with behaviors.
Money really represents your goals and dreams. It is the method that allows us to reach for and obtain those things in our lives, but money becomes the “thing” that rules us instead of allowing it to be a tool in our lives to reach those things.
Fear of Fixing Your Finances
What are You Afraid of?
As we have started the New Year and have spent a great deal of time talking and counseling with families about their personal finances, I am amazed at the number of people who want to “put off” meeting about it.
“As soon as we get our Tax Refund back, we can set a time to meet. I just don’t have time right now.”
“Give me another month or two. I need to get all of my paperwork in order first.”
“Let me get my statements organized and then I will give you a call.”
I have come to the realization that most people are fearful of fixing their finances. People may not like their financial situation, but they are familiar with it and they are afraid to make substantial changes. Others may feel a sense of embarrassment about past financial mistakes and are worried that they are going to be judged for those mistakes.
Snowball versus Avalanche
In last week’s article, I talked a little bit about debt and the fact that we all use it in some capacity. In our society, it just isn’t feasible that we would live our lives completely without using it – in some way. The more that I have thought about it this past week, the trick is using it the “right” way and not allowing it to become the main piece of your financial picture.
Debt can be suffocating. If not used properly, debt can overtake you and drown you and your family. Studies indicate that “financial stress” is one of the leading causes of divorce in our country. The need for “more stuff” and the ease and availability of credit, can quickly take over a family. Making decisions about a new purchase based upon whether you can afford the new payment, is not smart but it happens every single day.
Enough about the evils of credit! What do we do now? I think we can all probably agree that all our lives would be better if all our debt would be eliminated – if suddenly all of our credit card debt, car loans, student loan debt and home mortgages would vanish! Think of what you could do with your paycheck, if more of those “hard earned dollars” could go toward retirement, savings or FUN.
Good Debt versus Bad Debt
Debt Can Be Overwhelming!
I have been reading a lot of articles recently about finance and budgeting. It seems that everyone put out an article near the end of the year to talk about your personal finances and how to get your year started off on the “right foot”.
One thing that seems to resonate within each of the articles is centered on the elimination of personal debt. It seems to be a “hot button” and lots of people are talking about different strategies to help you put a plan in place to eliminate debt and free up your income for wealth building.
Let’s be honest for a few minutes. We all use debt in some way. It would be very difficult to purchase a home without utilizing a home mortgage loan – right? It would be great if we could structure a plan to save systematically and build up enough wealth to actually make a home purchase with cash but it isn’t always that easy.
Have a Budget – Be Prepared for the Unexpected
Peace of Mind When you have a Plan in Place
Being in the banking business for more than 20 years, I had the pleasure of working with many clients to help them obtain business financing for their company. Some were looking to obtain new equipment to make their business run more efficiently and others were looking to secure financing to help them purchase a new building from which they could operate their company.
As part of the financing package, we would always obtain tax returns and the rest of the “laundry list” of paperwork that every bank needs to reach a decision for a loan request. Some of these clients were going to actually build a brand-new building and we would always obtain a copy of their blue prints and plans for the new construction.
Step Back and Take a Look at your Business
We spend a great deal of time discussing the importance of creating a personal budget. Knowing exactly where every dollar should go is the first step toward real personal financial freedom. Although many people view a budget as something that is “constraining”, it is truly a tool that can provide you with tremendous flexibility.
We seldom discuss or get into deep conversations about creating a BUSINESS budget. When you step back and take a look at your business expenses, in most cases, you will discover that money is being spent needlessly and money is starting to slip through your fingers – very similar to a personal budget! The difficult part of creating a business budget is that no two businesses are the same and it is hard to find a basic system.
Why Start My Own Business?
Against All Odds
During this past week, someone asked me what it was like to run my own business. We have been doing this so long now that it almost seems like second nature and the thought of working “for” someone else is almost foreign to me. I had to step back for a second or two and think about it before I could really answer the question.
I remember “taking the plunge” and making the decision to quit my full-time regular paycheck job to start my own bookkeeping business. It was scary, but it was something that I just had to do. Against all odds, I knew that I was going to be successful – we ALL think that way – right? Every statistic in the book tells us that new businesses fail nearly 75% of the time. Three quarters of those new businesses fail but we are all fully confident that we are going to be in the minority – the 25% that make it!
Payroll for your Business
Why are you still doing your own Payroll?
It is now the middle of January and you, as a business owner, are starting to worry that you only have a few more days before those W2 Forms must be done and in the mail – right? You also have to squeeze in some additional time to handle another January payroll in the middle of this, so it looks like it is going to be another long weekend spent in front of the computer and you will miss another family event.
Payroll is not easy, and it eats up a lot of time for business owners. You must spend time making sure that your employees submit their paperwork to you timely and then you have to spend a ton of time entering it all into your system so that payroll is done correctly and “on time”. The process of doing payroll is much more than cutting payroll checks. It involves proper tax reporting and making sure that you stay current on every reporting deadline. You do realize that there are big fines that go along with past due payments and non-reporting – right?
Financial Personal Trainer
Resolutions – Self Discipline or Lack There-of!
Awe, yes…..New Year’s resolutions!
Every year many of us go through the same old routine of deciding what we are going to quit, start or change. We make lists of things we want to do or not do for the upcoming year. We may even spend time researching, “googling” or “pinteresting” the best ways to carry out our plans so they somehow seem new to us this year.
If I were a betting person, I would bet that before the end of January, most of us have already lost sight of our goals and have gone back to doing whatever we had planned to stop, stopped doing what we said we would start and…. well…..you get the picture.
Shoe Box Customer
Help with your receipts and paperwork
Every single year, we get a customer or two that is frantically searching for someone to help put their year back in order. They have done a pretty good job of keeping receipts and paperwork but suddenly realized that Uncle Sam will be asking for a tax return in a couple of months and have done nothing to get ready for Tax Time!
We have heard these customers referred to as “Shoe Box Customers” – they keep most of their paperwork in a shoe box and drop it off at their accountant to help. Let me start off this commentary with – We Want You!!
Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed!
Time Well Spent
How We Spend Our Time
I was reading some articles recently about time management and how we spend our time. Here are some of the results:
- The average American spends 3 hours a day watching TV for a total of about 90 hours per month
- We use our mobile device – talking, texting, playing games and checking email – 30 hours per month
- On the average, we spend 13 hours per month playing video games – I am sure this is much higher for younger people but I have seen a lot of seniors who are hooked on their “Candy Crush” and “Words With Friends”!
- We only spend about 9 hours per month exercising.
- We spend about 20 hours per month socializing – online and in-person.
- We spend the rest of our time sleeping, eating and working.
After I read through these results, I started wondering just how many of these activities would affect my future.
New Year’s Resolutions Part 3
It’s Time to Buckle Down – Part 3
Last week, we took our middle steps toward establishing good and attainable New Year’s Resolutions. Statistics show that most people give up on their resolutions before Valentine’s Day. I think that there are about 10 reasons why resolutions fail and I hope to provide you with a little hope as we enter the New Year – TOGETHER.
Here are Steps 8 through 10.
#8 – Lack of Honesty
Are you truly committed to making a change in your finances or is it just something that you “think” would be a good thing to do? Be totally honest with yourself – and your partner! – about your intentions and desires to make a change. Taking a big step with your finances will be difficult and cause some “pain”. Be truthful and honest with those involved and push forward with it. We even recommend that you include your kids in the process too. Let your kids know that you are going to make some changes and you are buckling down to make things better.
New Year’s Resolutions Part 2
It’s Time to Buckle Down – Part 2
Last week, we took our first steps toward establishing good and attainable New Year’s Resolutions. Statistics show that most people give up on their resolutions before Valentine’s Day. We think that there are about 10 reasons why resolutions fail and we hope to provide you with a little hope as we enter the New Year – TOGETHER.
Here are Reasons 4 through 7.
#4 – Time Management
There are times when you realize that budgeting is not easy and it takes time and effort. Have you ever walked up to the cash register at the grocery store and realized that you are about to spend part of the money that you need for your electric bill? Budgeting is not something that you can do for 30 minutes per month. It has to become a full mindset for you and your family. When you walk into the grocery store, you need to know EXACTLY what you can spend on this visit and commit to NOT going one cent over your plan.
New Year’s Resolutions Part 1
It’s Time to Buckle Down
As the calendar now moves past the end of November and into the colder month of December, it is time to start thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions!
I was reading a statistic the other day that said that New Year’s resolutions are generally done by February. 80% of people have already given up on their “big plans” before Valentine’s Day? I think there are about 10 reasons why these resolutions fail and I am going to tackle them over the next few weeks to give you a little hope as you enter the New Year.
#1 – Doing It Alone
As you head into the New Year and you are looking to make some adjustments to your financial plan, you need a partner. You need someone to hold you accountable and someone to keep you in “check”. It is absolutely essential to your success. If you are married, your spouse needs to be on board to help because he/she can be the biggest threat to derailing your plan OR your biggest advocate! Make sure that you both put a plan together and are determined to make it work. If you are single, you need to find someone that is not afraid to tell you “no”! Whatever you do, don’t do it alone!
Appreciation to our Clients
From the bottom of our hearts – Thank You!
As we begin the week of Thanksgiving, we, at Hollander & Associates, just wanted to stop and “thank you” for allowing us to be a little part of your lives. We work with so many great businesses and families and we can’t thank you enough for your trust.
If you are a long-time customer or one of our newer ones…if we handle all of your financial paperwork or if we have just done a consultation or two…We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to serve you and look forward to another amazing year – together.
Budgeting Your Four Walls
Where Do I Start?
As I am “out and about” in the community, I get asked all of the time about how to get started with a budget. Almost everyone agrees that it is a great idea but everyone seems to have a difficult time getting it started.
I always tell people to start with their “Four Walls”. It is a phrase that I heard first from Dave Ramsey but it holds so true! Start with the Four Basic pieces that will solidify your family’s foundation – Shelter, Food, Clothing and Transportation. Here are some simple ideas around these basics:
This category would include anything associated with where you live. Do you have rent or a mortgage payment? All utilities would be included and any home owner association fees, as well. Do you have lawn care costs? Do you have an annual HVAC check-up? Are you paying for periodic pest control? Take a few minutes to review all expenses associated with your shelter and add them up.
This category would include all costs associated with your food purchases. It would include all grocery items and dining out expenses. Do you stop each morning at Starbucks for a coffee? Do you run past the convenience store and grab a soda on your way home from work? How about those smoothies on the way home from the gym? Take a little time to really examine all money that you spend on food and beverages and add them up.
Custom Lifestyle Budget Plan
Best Decision We Ever Made
About three weeks ago, we were talking with one of our “long-time” clients about our relationship and how they initially came to contact us and engage our services. We do try to sit down with our clients periodically to make sure we are all pulling in the same direction with regard to plans, goals, trends, processes, etc.
I will have to say this meeting opened my eyes in a very different way.
This family is very typical of most of our clients. They both work. They have kids and are very busy with school and kid-related activities as well as in their church and community. I asked them what initially drove them to contact us and inquire about our services. I was a little surprised to find out the wife was very interested in asking for help but her husband was totally against it.
He talked about his feelings in depth and said that asking for help with his finances was almost embarrassing and felt that it showed a sign of weakness and defeat. He went on to explain that he was very worried about letting go and letting someone else look at his checkbook. He felt he would feel “judged” or told he had to stop doing activities he and his family enjoyed like going to restaurants or playing golf!
Mindset of a Business Owner
Owning a business can be satisfying but complicated…
After I finished writing the blog last week, my mind started racing back to so many of the great customers that I had a chance to work with. As I mentioned before, I have always thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my customers and working to come up with real solutions for any issues they were experiencing.
Initially, I kept thinking about the “personal” clients that I worked with but the more that I thought about it, the “business” clients were also a big part of our consulting efforts. Business clients experience similar issues and problems but from a very different perspective.
Being a business owner is one of the most satisfying things that a person can do but it is also extremely complicated. The decision to step into business ownership provides a great sense of pride and satisfaction. This decision also comes with a great deal of pressure as they attempt to determine proper pricing, create consistent profits and trying to handle employees, payroll and benefits! Most business owners are very, very good at providing their product or services but are not very good at handling their business finances.
Help with your Finances
Why we do what we do…
As a banking branch manager, I have had the pleasure of helping many, many customers over the years. Customers come in every single day and are looking for ways to improve their personal financial situation or fix a problem that they may have.
Banks sell a lot of products to help clients to save money or help them handle their money in a more convenient way – online banking, automatic bill pay, direct deposits or mobile banking. As these products are provided to clients at the bank, I could only go so far in REALLY providing a bank client with help and direction.
One of the worst feelings in the world was when a customer would come into the office because they just learned they bounced several checks. Most of the time, they were sure that it was a bank error but 99% of the time it was because they missed a transaction or made a mistake in their check register. I can’t tell you the number of times that a customer said something like, “We were busy all week with soccer practices and I completely forgot to make the deposit.” Or, “We used our debit cards several times and I guess we forgot to write them all down.”