Four Easy Financial Resolutions For The Fall

Four Easy Financial Resolutions For The Fall
It's the last 100 days of the year, what are you going to do with them? How about setting some financial resolutions? This gives us the opportunity to close out the year by really going hard to achieve the financial goals we set for the year initially or achieve new financial goals we set along the way. Fall allows us to reflect upon the last 265 days of the year and evaluate whether or not we like what we saw. If we didn't, now is the time to pivot and change it.

If you find yourself struggling to keep the financial resolutions you made last year, take a good look at them again. Why did you choose those goals? Why are they important to you? Throughout the year our priorities can change and some goals take precedence over others, or we forget the goals we set. Don't be discouraged if upon revisiting your financial goals, you find you have broken them. A good mentor once told me, "Where you are is just where you are, not who you are." and this reminds me that you can choose to start fresh today no matter what the last 265 days have looked like. 

Here are a few great financial resolutions you can adopt heading into Autumn:

1. Set up an emergency fund of at least $3000.
When we have an emergency fund, everything else in our finances feels easier. This emergency fund is the first step to getting your finances in order and a great resolution for the end of the year. And, you can do this even if you think you don't have money to spare after paying your monthly expenses.

Go through your home and find things you no longer use or haven't used in 6 months. This includes clothes, furniture, shoes, decorations, anything you can find, you can sell and earn cash for. I like to use Facebook marketplace and stick to local pickup so you don't have to worry about shipping.

The other way to increase your income and beef up your emergency fund is by cancelling subscriptions. This is where you can evaluate whether a subscription is a need or a want. For example, I had an Audible subscription at $15 a month. I found that I could cancel it, join my local library and listen to audiobooks for free! Check your tv subscriptions, gym or anything else you pay for monthly and really evaluate how much you use it and whether it is something that is necessary for you to live.  I usually say anything that makes me money, puts food on my table, or gets me to my job is necessary, everything else might not be. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions and put that cash right into your emergency fund.

Last but not least I recommend taking on extra hours at work or using your skills to work a side job. Everyone has strengths, what is something you can do that can bring in extra income? With the holiday season approaching, lots of jobs are looking for extra help and hours to fill. Any extra money you bring in can go right into your emergency fund.

2. Start investing!
This is something I wish I had done in my twenties. It's how you can make your money work for you and how you can set yourself up for retirement (and maybe even retire early!). The sooner you start, the easier it is. If you're not sure how, youtube is your friend.

My recommendation is to start with opening up an investment account if you don't already have one. My favorites are Vanguard or Fidelity or Charles Schwab. Each has different pros and cons depending on your lifestyle. If you have one with your employer and they match your investment, make sure you are maximizing that by putting in the percent they require to match. For example, if you start investing $200 every month for 10 years and you earn 6% yearly, at the end of 10 years you'll have $33,300. Of that though, only $24,200 is money you've put in. The other $9,100 is interest you have earned on your investments. The more that grows, the more your investments grow.

The amount you invest monthly will depend on your age and when you aim to retire. The younger you are, the less money you'll have to start investing monthly to reach your goals. Use Google to find a retirement calculator and calculate how much you should be investing. If you can't meet that minimum, that's ok! You can work your way up. Any amount of money you can invest is better than not investing at all. My suggestion, automate your investments so you can set it and forget it. Just be sure that you're money is being put to work inside your investment accounts and not just sitting in your investment company waiting to be applied to a specific investment.

3. Pay off debt.
Do you know how much debt you have? Write down all of the debt that you owe from credit cards to car loans to student loans and even borrowed money from friends or family. Once you can see it, you can create a plan of attack to pay it off.

Now list your debts from smallest to largest. Let's be honest, paying down debt isn't exactly the most fun but if you can give yourself quick wins you're much more likely to stick with it. That's why we start with the smallest debt you have. I recommend calculating your monthly expenses and monthly income to arrive at your "green gap" amount. This is the money you have leftover after paying all of your bills. Once you have that amount, you can delegate 45% of it to paying off debt, 45% to investments and then take 10% and put it into a fun account.

The key here is to continue paying the minimum payments on all of your debts and take that 45% extra to put on your smallest debt. Watch how fast that debt disappears and see how good you feel about your accomplishments. Now keep going!

4. Pay for the holidays with cash.
This is a great financial resolution to set now that you are on your way to becoming debt free! The holidays are a time of year when marketing is turned way up and we are made to believe that gifts = love. It's so easy to get sucked into the belief that more gifts equal more love, right? If you're a parent you have probably felt the pressure to "keep up with the joneses" when friends are posting on social media pictures of how many presents are under the Christmas tree. Here's where you can start to free your mind from these beliefs because you are clear on your financial resolutions.

Set a holiday budget for yourself and stick to it. One way I like to do this is to set up a "holiday fund" at my bank. This is just an extra account where I can put money for the holidays. If you have to lessen the amount you pay towards investments these next three months, you can choose to do that so that you don't go into additional debt just for the holidays. Know how good this will feel going into 2022 with less debt.

Let me know what financial resolutions you are setting for the year, and of course if you need help, reach out!

If you haven't grabbed the Ditch Your Debt Freebie yet, get started on simple solutions to get out and stay out of debt right here.

xox
Gwen

How To Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck

How To Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck

More than 50% of the U.S. Population lives paycheck to paycheck and over 62% don't have enough savings to cover an emergency. Sometimes we think “gosh, how did this happen?” but the truth is, we know how. 

Education is a business. Banks are a business. Marketing is a business. And it’s so easy to get caught up in keeping up with the Joneses, right?

So let’s talk about how to get yourself out of this rut. I'm going to show you how to solve it in three easy steps.

Step one, unsubscribe.

Raise your hand if you have Netflix. Now raise another hand if you have Hulu. And another...oh wait...no more hands! But how about Disney plus? Amazon Prime? HBO? 

I know, I know one show is on Netflix and the other show you watch is on Amazon and so how could you possibly pick just ONE to keep?

Well, when you're in financial stress, you're going to have to differentiate need versus want. So pick one and put the others to rest. We can sit here all day and say “but Netflix is only this amount of money, or Disney plus us only this much.” Ok yeah but how does it feel every month to squeeze by on paying your bills? The ones that keep you driving, or keep a roof over your head or food on the table? Let’s prioritize.

Step two, create a budget.

This is where most people say “I’m out!” and it’s because we already know our situation, we’re just scared to see it on paper. But this is where you get clarity on your income versus your expenses. Because when we tell our money where to go, we are in control, rather than our finances having control over us.

Trust me - this works. 

Step three, stop spending.

Yup, I said it. Have you ever looked at your bank account and wondered where all of your money goes? When you start to look at the nitty-gritty details of your expenses. We have coffees out here, we have dinners out there, online subscriptions yadda yadda. 

If you have money leftover at the end of the month, that's where you can take 10% of that and put it towards a “fun” account. Forty-five percent of it and put it towards your debts, and another 45% towards your savings or investments.

This is being in control of your money, not your money controlling you. This is opening your bank accounts and knowing, BELIEVING that you are abundant and will always have enough. 

If you want more tips on creating your best life, which includes your financial wellness, click the link below and join our free community where women just like you, are working on designing a life that they are truly in love with.

http://www.inspiredandready.com ← I’ll see you in there!

xoxo,
Gwen


Learn How She Paid Off 25K In Debt In 5 Months

Learn How She Paid Off 25K In Debt In 5 Months
Is Debt weighing you down? It's time to cut the ropes. 

So listen, I came out of graduate school with $135,000 in student loans. Then we bought a house, a dog, and got married. If you ever look at what you'll pay in total when you're done paying off a loan it's really eye opening. Like really, really eye opening. I think it actually helps snap you into action LOL.

And I tried multiple times to pay down debt but never took it seriously. I wish I started right when I got out of school but I continued to make minimum payments for 10 years. I even did Dave Ramsey's program but never progressed. Always falling back into the same patterns/.

But what I want to share with you today is that you can start wherever you are! And wherever you are is just where you are, not who you are. So let's dive deep into how you can start paying down your debt quickly but doing a few simple things.

I'm going to show you exactly how I paid down $25,000 off my debt in five easy steps. It was so impactful that I got certified to teach it. Check it out:

Step one, money in versus money out.
Most of us don't know exactly where all of our money goes. If we can start tracking not only the big expenses, but the small ones too, we can start plugging the leaks a lot faster.

Step two, ID the gap.
This is basically subtracting your expenses from your income so that you can know whether you're above or below water.

Step three, maximize the gap.
This is where you focus on the activities that will increase your income and decrease your expenses.

Step four: 45, 45, 10.
After you've paid down all your essentials for the month, you're going to take what's leftover, put 45% towards your debt. 45% towards investments and 10% towards fun. This way you can maximize paying down your debt while still investing in the future and having fun.

Step five, repeat.
Because if you can create consistency, you'll create momentum. And you will be so surprised at how fast your debt starts to go down.

So if you're struggling with debt, but you also want to design your best life, check out our "Ditch Your Debt"  course where women just like you are ditching 1 debt in 30 days and then continuing to take what they learn and apply it to every debt they have. 

xoxo,

Gwen


Financial Friday: Best ways to save money on a tight budget

Do you remember learning about anything but a checking and a savings account in high school? I don't! Did you know that savings accounts on average yield a 0.04% return on your money. That means if you have $1000.00 in your savings account, in a year you'll earn 0.40. You can't even buy a coffee with that. 

Let's take a look at the best ways to save money even if you're on a tight budget.

First things first, master the green gap! This financial strategy changed the entire way I looked at my finances and began paying down massive debts. From January 1st to April 30th we have paid down over $21,000 in debt. Anyone can do his, trust me! Green Gap will allow you to invest for the future while paying down debt and having fun.

Ok now that you know exactly how much money you have leftover after paying bills, you can start saving.

There's two types of savings:
1. saving for something in the near future like a car, a down payment for a house, or a vacation.

2. saving for the future.

When you are working on saving for a a purchase in the next few years, you'll want your money to be easily accessible in something like a high yield savings account.

High yield savings accounts, while still not THAT plentiful, are more plentiful than regular savings. High yield savings earn you on average .5% return annually. That means if you have $1000 in the bank, in one year you'll earn $5 for a total of $1005. And you're not penalized for taking money out whenever you want.

If you're saving for the future, investing is the key. Here's the thing, I know investing can sound scary because (well at least for me) we weren't taught about investing and we watched 2008 happen which was pretty scary in the investment world. BUT, there are high risk investments and low risk investments, and I am going to introduce to you an easy way to get your feet wet and still get a much larger return on your money for the future than putting your money in a savings account.


The S&P 500 Index is the 500 largest U.S. publicly traded companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Berkshire Hathaway. It yields an annual average 9-13% return. So if we take the lowest average of 9% return and you have $1000 in your investment account, in on year you'll earn $90 making your total $1090. That's much better than $5!

And then, there's something called compounding which is simply a reinvestment of your earnings. So now that you have $1190 in your account and you make an average of 9% return, by the next year you'll have $1188, and the next year $1291. That's all without putting any extra money into your investment account!

The great thing about the S&P index is that it is diversified and relatively low risk. You can certainly look around and find any other diversified, low risk investments to invest your money in, this is just the one that I started with and find very easy. If one of the stocks has a dip, you're less likely to see large effects in your account because it is equally balanced with lots of other stocks inside the index.

Alright, now that you know it's not that scary to start, where do you even begin?

I like to use Vanguard because I've been using them for years and they do have a lot of education available on their website. Its very easy to open up an account right online by providing some basic information and once they verify you're a real person with a social security number and you're not hiding from the IRS (LOL), you'll be good to go!

You can use the search feature to look into Roth vs. Traditional accounts and also use the search to see the S&P Index details or details of any other stocks you want to look into. 

Start small and set up automatic withdrawals from your bank account. Consistent steps will lead to large action. And then start diving into learning a little bit more. Some of my favorite books are Robert Kiyosaki's books like Retire Young Retire Rich. He does a great job breaking it down into easy to understand tidbits of information. 

And there you have it, how anyone can start saving and making a big impact even if you're on a tight budget. Just remember small daily steps are better than no steps at all.

Oh and if you're looking to link arms with other women who are working on leveling up their lives - creating time freedom, financial freedom and having FUN in life, then you'll definitely want to join Inspired + Ready for More.

And if finances are causing you stress - here's my FREE guide on how to calm the financial chaos. Cheers to creating a great today and future life. 

xoxox,

Gwen

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