Category Archives: Financial

How Financially Literate are you?

As one year transitions into another, we always see a sudden rush to get or start getting your financial house in order. A lot of bulleted or numbered lists come out of things to do without necessarily explaining why you need to do it. Maybe the assumption is that you already know which begs the question if you did know, wouldn’t your finances already be in order?

The reality is that many people who live in the US are not financially literate or put another way they don’t fully understand the language of money. That lack of understanding is what leads to having a financial mess on your hands. Let’s be clear though – IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT!

Nowhere in the education system in this country is financial literacy CONSISTENTLY taught. That one glaring absence leads to almost half of the population not knowing things that are key to keeping your bank accounts and overall finances in the black.

https://howmoneyworks.com/marieedwards/challenge

Think we’re kidding? Take the quiz on the website above and then post your score in the comments below if you’re brave. Are you financially literate?

If you get a score that you feel is too low to post, here’s how you change it. Register for this free course happening January 6th at 8 PM EST and increase your financial literacy in record time!

Opportunity Cost and Your Career

“Opportunity cost” refers to what you can potentially lose by choosing one option over another – even when you aren’t thinking about it.

Nearly every choice you make precludes something else that might have been.

Opportunity cost exists in everything from relationships to finances to career choices, but here we’ll focus on that last one. Over a lifetime, the cost of career decisions can be massive.

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The math
For opportunity costs that can be measured, usually in dollars, there’s even a math equation. (FYI, Ms. ME spent a few years as a Mathematics instructor.)

What I sacrifice / What I gain = Opportunity cost[i]

Let’s say you have two career choices. One is to work as a mechanic at $50 per hour and the other is to work as a karate instructor at $20 per hour.

Opportunity A / Opportunity B = Opportunity cost

Here it is with numbers: $50 / $20 = $2.50

To translate that, for every $1 you earn as a karate instructor, you could have earned $2.50 as a mechanic. The ratio remains the same whether it’s for one hour worked or 1,000 hours worked because it’s based on earnings per hour.

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Adding a time element
We can only work a certain number of hours in a week and we can only work for a certain number of years in a lifetime. Adding time into the discussion doesn’t change the math relationship between the opportunities but it does recognize real-world constraints. Sometimes these limits are by choice. You could be both a full-time mechanic and a full-time karate instructor, but most people don’t want to work 80 hours per week. Something has to give, and that’s where considering opportunity cost comes in.

If you only want to work 40 hours in a week, you’ll have to choose one career over the other or split your time between the two. But even in splitting your time, there is an opportunity cost. Think about it like this: Every hour spent in a lower paying job costs money if you had an opportunity to earn more doing something else.

The bigger picture
In our example using the mechanic vs. the karate instructor, the difference in annual income is over $60,000 per year ($104,000 minus $41,600). Over a 40-year working career, the difference in earnings is nearly $2.5 million, and it all happened one hour at a time.

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Life balance
Your career choice shouldn’t just be about money – you should do something you enjoy and that gives you satisfaction. There may be several other considerations as well – like opportunity to travel, the kind of people you work with, and the greater contribution you can make to the world. However, if there are two choices that meet all your criteria but one pays a bit more, just do the math!

Strange as it may sound thanks to Covid-19 and everything else that happened in 2020 many people are doing the math and reevaluating what they want to do with their lives. For some, reconnecting with a long lost passion as a side gig or even a full leap into entrepreneurship is the direction that they are considering to achieve their desired level of wellness. If you’re in this category, tell us in the comments below. 🔻

[i] https://blog.udemy.com/opportunity-cost-formula/

Set Yourself Up for (Financial) Success in the New Year

A new year is a massive opportunity.

There’s something liberating about closing one chapter of your life and beginning a new one. You realize that this year doesn’t have to be like last year, and that there are countless possibilities for growth.

Now is the perfect time to write a new financial chapter of your life.

In the mindset of new beginnings, the first thing is to forgive yourself for the mistakes of the past and start fresh. Now is your chance to set yourself up for financial success this year and potentially for years to come. Here are three simple steps you can take starting TODAY, January 1st that might make this new chapter of your life the best one yet!

1. Automate wise money decisions ASAP

What if there were a way to go to the gym once that somehow made you steadily stronger throughout the year? One workout would be all you need to achieve your lifting goals!

That’s exactly what automating savings and bill payments does for your finances.

All you have to do is determine how much you want to save and where, set up automatic deposits, and watch your savings grow. It’s like making a year’s worth of wise financial decisions in one day!

2. Give your debt the cold shoulder

Debt doesn’t have to dictate your story in the new year. You can reclaim your cash flow from monthly payments and devote it to building wealth. Resolve to reduce how much you owe over the next 12 months, and then implement one of these two powerful debt strategies…

A. Arrange your debts on a sheet of paper, starting with the highest interest rate and working down. Direct as much financial firepower as you can at that first debt. Once you’ve cleared it, use the extra resources you’ve freed up to crush the next one even faster. This strategy is called the Debt Avalanche.

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B. Arrange your debts on a sheet paper, starting with the smallest debt and working up to the largest. Eliminate the smallest debt first and then work up to the largest debt. This is called the Debt Snowball. It can be a slower strategy over the long-haul, but it can sometimes provide more motivation to keep going because you’re knocking out smaller goals faster.

3. Start a side hustle

You might not have thought much about this before (let’s be honest if you’ve read this blog before you’ve likely had no choice but to think about it 😁), but you may have what it takes to create a successful side hustle. Just take a moment and think about your hobbies and skills. Love playing guitar? Start teaching lessons, or see if you can start gigging at weddings or events. Are you an embroidery master? Start selling your creations online. Your potential to transform your existing talents into income streams is only limited by your imagination!

Start this new year strong. Automate a year’s worth of wise financial decisions ASAP, and then evaluate what your next steps should be. You may even want to meet with a qualified and licensed financial professional to help you uncover strategies and techniques that can further reduce your debt and increase your cash flow. Whatever you choose, you’ll have set yourself up for a year full of potential for financial success!

Which step are you committed to taking today? Share below.

Money Moves for 2021

At the start of each calendar year, people make plans about how they are going to do things differently to change or improve their situation. Typically money moves are somewhere on the list. Unfortunately by mid-January we often see people giving up on those plans. But let’s face it, after everything we’ve faced in 2020 if you only change or improve one thing, YOU’RE WINNING!

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Here are a few money moves you can make for 2021. But more than that we’re giving clear action steps that you can incorporate that should help you stick to the changes past January.

#1 Cut your expenses and debt, if possible

I know you’ve heard this one countless times before, and probably rolled your eyes. (🙄 here we go again!) You think you really need cable or satellite with 300+ channels to catch that one show on that premium channel or to keep the kids entertained. You NEED Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, AND Apple TV. (Yes, we realize their ads are probably popping up on the page since we mentioned them.) That new gaming console and subscription service is ESSENTIAL for your kids, so that they stop bothering you before you end them after how many months of trying to shelter in place as much as possible. So we’re not going to mention any of those changes. But here are some ways to cut your expenses that you may not have thought about.

· Shop for less expensive insurance

If you have a car, apartment, or house, you have insurance on those items (unless you like riding dirty and living dangerously). But why spend more for a truly necessary item than you have to? So often we stick with the same company year after year while they slowly inch up our premiums while providing the same level of coverage and at times less service. Shop around prior to each renewal and see if your company still has the best premium. If not, switch. If they’re not valuing your business by keeping your cost low, why are you out here being loyal to a corporation?

Don’t know where to start? Just tell us below which insurance quotes you’d like and your residential (or commercial if you own a business) zip code and you’ll receive an invitation email to get multiple quotes within minutes.

· Refinance and/or payoff your debt

Are we recommending you go through a long credit approval process here? Not necessarily. Look at the interest rates on all of your current debt. If you have lower interest rate funding sources (a line of credit, credit card) that isn’t maxed out, it might be advantageous to move some of that debt over to the lower interest rate source. Especially while the Fed has held rates hovering just over 0% for most of 2020. (We’ll do a post later about what that means in detail; just know while you won’t get that rate necessarily you should be able to find lower interest rates because of it depending on your credit score.) Just be sure to watch out for transfer fees that may offset the money you’ll save in lower interest costs.

If you have the means to payoff some of your debt with money you have sitting in a low-interest rate savings account, go ahead and do it. You’re not going to make any more keeping that money in the account any time soon at 0.01%. Still not convinced? Play with these calculators to see how much your debt is costing you and how to get rid of it.

#2 Save money on food and cut food waste

So many people are struggling to afford food right now. The nightly news displays how the lines at food banks continue to grow in length. If you’re able to still buy the food you need first let’s take a moment to be grateful for that. 🙏
Now on to how to cut costs…

· Always. Make. A. List.

We know, we know. You’ve read and heard this one before too. So why aren’t you doing it? “I’m too busy.” Really? Too busy to save money? You’re going to end up spending one or the other (time vs. money) so why not spend a little time to save more money. “I write the list and forget it at home.” Ever heard of a phone? They have cameras and apps to make lists. “The kids always end up asking for things in the store.” Uh, here’s an idea. Teach them to make a list too! Good habits are taught and learned early just like bad ones, like shopping without a list and worse yet, hungry.

Stores are designed as mazes to make you wander around and notice as many products as possible. After all, you might just see something you “need” but didn’t plan on getting! (Darn kids 🧒) That’s why bringing a list with you is key. You’re far more likely to stay on track if you have a few written objectives. Making that list also helps you find all of the best sales, discounts and coupon codes. Speaking of coupons, here are some of our favorite apps:

  • Ibotta
    While it doesn’t include a list feature like another app on our list, it does offer a wide variety of coupons and our new fave for saving money and staying on budget, digital gift cards. Set your budget for groceries at lets say Walmart, buy the gift card in that amount through Ibotta for a percentage back immediately. Then, pick out all of the available coupons at Walmart for your shopping list and use the gift card to pay. In a few days (often a few minutes but we don’t want to overpromise), those coupon amounts will be credited to your account. Cash out whenever you reach a $20 balance.
  • Coupons.com
    So SavingStar went the way of the dodo bird and everyone had to migrate over to Coupons.com. We’re not mad at this as the offerings from SavingStar had gotten less desirable over the years. Also, Coupons.com was a site we had used in the past, albeit less frequently because it was associated in our minds with printing out coupons to take to the store. While you can still print coupons, there is an app now that we’re getting acquainted with. Follow our social media for updates on our experience with the app.
  • Checkout 51
    This used to be the app to turn to for discounts on fresh produce, which at times can be challenging to find. While those offers have become fewer and farther between, this app has started expanding into other savings areas like gas and online shopping. It also has a built-in pharmacy savings card and a newer feature we’ll also be sharing on social media, surveys for money. 💲💲
  • KeyRing
    Ok while this one doesn’t offer any coupons or rebates, it is great for storing all of those customer loyalty cards. It’s also one of the only apps we’ve discovered so far that also allows you to create a shopping list for each specific store that’s not dependent on whatever rebates are available.

What apps do you use to save money on groceries? Share in the comments below. And while you’re grocery shopping, try to stick to the perimeter of the store. That’s where the more healthy, essential items you’ll need are often stocked!

Talking about healthy foods…

· Wait until evening to hit up your farmers market

ECV Talks is based in Florida, USA where finding farm grown foods is relatively easy. If you’re blessed to have farmers markets near you, make sure to shop local and support them. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great deal. Local vendors usually don’t want to lug their unsold goods back home with them. That’s why they’ll often start discounting their produce as the day drags on. Hit them right at the end of the day to get the best deals. And don’t be afraid to ask them for items that aren’t visually perfect but are still usable.

But don’t over-purchase just because you’re getting this great deal without a plan to avoid tossing all those fresh fruits and veggies. Try canning, blanching and freezing to preserve your purchases and cut back on food waste. Or if you want to spend a little more, we highly advise investing in a Foodsaver or similar vacuum sealing appliance. Saving money on food is a long game. If you’re preparing your own meals instead of going out (which let’s face it alot of us are doing right now), you’re already well ahead of the curve. Trying out these tips can take your frugality game to the next level!

What money moves do you plan to make in 2021? Talk to us below!

Smart Spending during Sucker Season

Are you in a mad dash to spend money you probably shouldn’t spend? Are you looking for tips on how-to start 2021 without the soul-crushing debt some come out of this sucker season with? Here are three…

1. Spend time, not money.

Money is tight for a lot of people right now. Instead of feeling pressured to buy a gift that may put you in a financial bind, think about an activity that you can spend time engaging in with the people that are special to you. No matter if you’re in person if they are already in your circle or virtually if they are far away, make sure to put some thought into how to make it special and memorable which oftentimes does not require a huge amount of money.

2. Set one goal & make it a number.

Whether you trying to buy gifts or improve your financial situation, pick your main goal and focus on it. To help you focus, actually attach a number to it. So it might be “spending $1500 or less on gifts” or “paying off $2000 worth of debt.” Whatever your goal, making it a tangible number gives you a target and a way to measure your progress.

3. Practice healthy habits.

Health and wealth are intricately linked and a lot of times that connection is overlooked until it’s too late. So here’s your reminder to practice healthy habits year-round to avoid expensive healthcare costs later. While the tendency may be to overindulge this time of year, try to eat and drink responsibly by listening to your body and choosing healthier options. If you do overindulge, increase your activity level. Depending on your location and the weather, you may be able to venture outside and get active while remaining physically distant to limit exposure to COVID 19.

More tips can be found at this link: https://knowledge-place.wealthmeethealth.com/individual/be-smart/article/choose-healthy-foods-and-stay-active-this-holiday-season/