finance

5 Link Friday: Fave YouTube Videos

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  1.  Is your busy lifestyle hindering you from preparing healthy meals? Then subscribe to the Domestic Geek. Here you will find recipes and meal prep tips on everything from smoothies, to salad in a jar and decadent deserts. The host’s upbeat attitude and fun way of preparing meals make this one of my favorite YouTube videos.
  2. Brendon.com is the YouTube channel for Brendon Burchard. Brendon is a life coach and self help guru with an amazing amount of energy and wisdom. With several New York Times bestsellers including, The Motivation Manifesto and The Charge, as well as over 4 million Facebook likes, well if you are not curious — what’s wrong with you? Just kidding. Check it out.
  3. “Spend less than you earn”. I heard this advice for the first time over a decade ago while listening to Anthony Robbins ‘ self help CD set “Get the Edge”. In the YouTube video Tony reviews how to end financial self-sabotage. If you are serious about financial security this video should probably be in your self help library.
  4. In this video, Dr. Mercola interviews Andrew Saul a.k.a. The Megavitamin Man. Saul is a big believer in large doses of vitamins instead of or in conjunction with destructive medications, to treat certain diseases and he has over 30 years of research to support his claim. He has several videos from which you can gather information about vitamins.
  5. Dave Ramsey’s Life, Money, Hope is a series of bible based teachings on handling money and having financial peace. Again if you are seeking financial freedom, you are missing a key piece from your arsenal if you do not watch this entire series. If you are not a believer in the bible, don’t let that deter you from listening. That will definitely be like throwing out the baby with the bath water.

I hope you enjoy this installment of 5 Link Friday. Let me know what you think about this installment, the videos you watch and about this series itself. I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or question below. Thanks. JRF

Note: There are no affiliate links in this post.

3 Quick Ways to Become a Millionaire

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budgetingYou may not want to be a millionaire.

However, it’s not a bad idea to learn some of the secrets that create a millionaire.

Especially when it comes to managing money.

Some women tend to leave the financial management to their husbands. But if you are raising children solo, you have no choice but to handle your finances yourself.

Also, it may be a little more difficult with one income, especially if you were used to two incomes or the high income of an ex.

Below are 3 habits that I believe could be the beginning of your journey towards a six-figure net worth.

1. Spend Less Than You Earn.

Pundits agree that this is one of the keys to obtaining wealth.

It is probably the simplest, but hardest habit to adopt. Dave Ramsey shows strategies for creating this habit in his book The Total Money Makeover.

One way is to give every dollar a name. Meaning BEFORE you get paid, write down all your expenses and ensure every dollar is accounted for.

If it appears you have more money than expenses, the extra money may be used for any debt payments or towards savings.

On the other hand, if you find that there is too much month at the end of your money, you may need to find ways to cut down on expenses. I will suggest some ways to do that in a future post.

Or maybe you have stuff you can sell to bring in extra income. There is also nothing wrong with your teenager getting a part-time job to help with some of their own personal expenses.

However, you can’t beat the peace of mind that comes with knowing your bills are covered and you have no relationship with a bill collector.

[bctt tweet=”Spending less than you earn enable you to spend only on necessities while building a solid financial future.”]

2. Track All Expenses.

In order to spend less than you earn, you will need to track what you are spending.

If making and sticking to a budget seems overwhelming, start by keeping all receipts. About once each week, preferably before your next paycheck, write down all the money you spent since the last paycheck.

You will start to see where you may want to cut back. Maybe you have been wondering where all your paycheck went. Track your expenses and you will not have to wonder anymore.

3. Pay Yourself First.

Some experts say put 5-10% of your pay check into a savings account. This may not work for everyone but it makes sense to put something away each time you receive income. Creating a savings goal may keep you focused. Tell yourself that this money you are putting away is to combat Murphy’s Law.

The best method is to, “Use a monthly automatic investment plan to build up a savings account that can cover up to 8 months of living expenses”. Suze Orman, Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny.

Meaning, have an online savings account and have the money go there directly from your paycheck — direct deposit. That way you don’t see the money and there will be no “need” for it.

While these 3 habits will not make you a millionaire right away, practicing them religiously will lead to a healthier financial future.

Also, If you involve your children in these habits, you will also be teaching them to how to manage money wisely.

Whether you have a little or a lot, money needs to be told where to go. If not, you can quickly find yourself a slave to lenders. Because as Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave (or servant) to the lender”.

In short, be the boss of your money. You’ll find it’s a willing and generous servant.

What is your biggest struggle with keeping track of your money?

6 Books That Have Influenced My Life

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2014-03-31 23.22.15I started reading while I was very young.  In fact, my grandfather who raised me by himself started reading the Bible to me from ever since I can remember.  Growing up as an only child in the home, I often became lost in the adventures of Alice in Wonderland or a mysterious plot from a Nancy Drew book.  I trembled with excitement at the opportunity to acquire a new read and I must have been the only nine year old who was excited to go to the library.  Despite rules to the contrary, the librarian would allow me to borrow as many books as I could carry.  I loved and read all types of books but I abhorred romance — not sure why. I should look into that.

Below is a list of six books that have positively influenced my life during my time alone as a child, on lonely times while growing up in England, and during some tumultuous years while raising my two younger boys.

The Holy Bible: This book, has had a major impact on my life from a very early age.  I went to Sunday school with my grandfather, attended Pre-K at my church and recited many verses from the book of Psalms at church events.  Though the words within didn’t mean much to me back then, it all came flooding back during my teenage years when I felt the calling of the Lord.  These same words — some of the ones I recited — “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful,…” Psalm 1:1. (King James Version) — among others, that pulled me towards a relationship with Christ.  The Bible is not a simple book like some would want to believe. It takes the whisper of the Holy Spirit to bring understanding of the words contained in its pages to your soul.

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson:  Who Moved My Cheese tells the story of two mice; Sniff and Scurry and two humans; Hem and Haw who all lived in a maze.  This book, in very simple terms lays out the landscape of the lives of humans and the choices we make even when faced with the truth. The contrast between the mice and the humans is quite striking and reminds me that we are not entitled to anything but we have the opportunity to experience all life has to offer if we only have the courage to adapt to the inevitable changes that life brings instead of burying out head in the sand or somewhere else or complain about what is not going right.  Life is complicated simply because no one person controls everything so we must be prepared for and adapt to changes.  This little book is a must read for everyone but especially for those dealing with changes, especially if those changes give the appearance that your life is spinning out of control.

The Stiletto Network by Pamela Ryckman: Forget everything you have heard about professional women not liking each other and not supporting each other in their careers. This book dispels all those myths. Stiletto Network  gives a first hand account of  how wealthy, successful women are generously reaching back and forming personal and professional networks to help others.  However, these women do not just throw their treasures around and they most certainly do not “throw their pearls before swines”.  Ryckman has taken the time to delve into these earth-moving relationships which encompass every area of the lives of those involved.  Whether bonding over a dinner party or during an island getaway, stiletto networks  have bypass the proverbial glass ceiling and are helping to create hundreds of successful women worldwide.

Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit by Pastor Jim Cymbala. If you have a deep interest in the things of God and if you are often confused about how God operates via the Holy Spirit, this just might be the book for you.  How do I know that God is real?  When someone say that God spoke to them, what does that really mean? Pastor Cymbala passionately retells the story of several congregants, past and present whom have had a life changing experience with Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.  This book will send the skeptics scrambling back to the book of Acts.

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. Budgeting, living within your means, and getting out of debt is the theme of this book. Dave outlines seven “Baby Steps” to becoming not only debt free but wealthy beyond your wildest dreams.  It is not a get rich quick scheme.  In fact, the process can be lengthy and painful.  Imagine your debt was an extra 300 pounds of fat that you are trying to lose.  Then you understand the commitment needed to follow the steps in this book to unburden yourself from the slavery of debt.  I have not followed his plan to a tee but overall this is smart advice that I find very helpful in handling my finances.  One of the points Dave makes that really resonate with me is “when you live like no one else” (sacrifice to become debt free), “you can live like no on else” (no debt, pay cash for even large purchases, retire wealthy).

Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential by Joel Osteen.  While I was going through a really tough divorce, scared, and at my wits end, this book gave me hope. The 90 day devotional companion kept me focused on daily devotion with God.  At the time, I also set a weight loss goal that accompanied this spiritual journey and it was pure magic. But not really. I was focused and driven and the book helped me not to get side tracked. Your Best Life Now gave me the opportunity to live in the moment and not get distracted by the earth shattering circumstances I was experiencing at the time.

There are many other books that I have read and continue to read that have influenced my thoughts and in some cases my behavior.  However, theses 6 books have had the most powerful influence on me.

Choosing a tax preparer – it’s not too early

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Maybe you are like me and do your taxes yourself.  Or maybe you are like many people who trust someone else to prepare their tax return.  Whether your tax situation is simple or complicated, if you decide to use a professional be sure to use someone who knows what they are doing.  And it is never too early to start looking for that someone, if you do not yet have a trusted tax advisor.  You will want someone who will take the time to know your situation and prepare your return accordingly.

  • Make sure he or she is not only experienced in preparing a return with your unique circumstances but that they also keep up with current changes in the tax code.  I had one CPA who told me he had been doing taxes for something like over 40 years.  However, he did not know that the first $2400 of unemployment insurance was not taxable. This was 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  This was one of many errors he made on that year’s return.
  • Just because they are a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) does not mean that they can adequately prepare your return.    I had another CPA whose return was rejected because he thought an insurance agent could claim a tax deduction on dry cleaning his suits.  The taxpayer was not eligible for the deduction in this case. 
  • Even if the individual is referred by a trusted friend or family member, interview them yourself.  You will be depending on them to know the tax law and you want to feel comfortable you are getting the best service possible.
  • Your tax preparer should be willing to “teach” you about your individual tax situation.  You should know what is expected of you and what to bring to your pre-preparation interview.  Don’t “drive thru” your tax return. You could end up paying too much taxes by missing out on deductions and/or credits or worse, failing to declare income you thought you didn’t have to declare.
  • If paying a professional is an issue, there are numerous nonprofits that provide free tax preparation service. These types of tax preparers are certified by the IRS before they can prepare your taxes.  They are also volunteers who are not allowed to charge a fee or even accept gifts in return for their service.
  • Learn as much as is possible about taxable events in your life.  Bottom line, it  is your responsibility to pay the taxes that you owe in a timely manner to avoid penalties, fees and maybe even jail.  Ignorance is no excuse and there are plenty celebrities who are in jail today because they trusted their every taxable decision to someone else. You don’t have to become an expert but it helps to know the basics for your circumstance. You also owe it to yourself and your family to take advantage of deductions and credits legally available to you.

Having the right assistance and advise can make a world a difference at tax time. April 1 is stressful enough.  Try to reduce the stress by eliminating uncertainties surrounding filing your taxes.  A qualified tax preparer can help.

Next: I will focus on resources for those who prefer to prepare their own returns.

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Resources:

Free tax preparation:  http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers

Paid e-File preparers: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Authorized-IRS-e-file-Providers-for-Individuals