Tag Archives: money

Retirement and the Dreams of Children

First, we’re sorry that this didn’t post yesterday as planned.

Secondly, we’re sharing this post from Todd Garlington because he asks a number of good questions that we’d like to know our readers’ responses to after you take a look. So please talk back to us below in the comments or on our social media.

“I Want to Live Happily Ever After.” This sentiment is understandable in a child. Vulnerable and inexperienced, their growth relies on fantasy to some degree. But retirement services aren’t peddled to children.

Retirement and the Dreams of Children — Image(s)

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!

How to Budget for Beginners

Everybody needs a budget.

But that doesn’t stop “budget” from being an intimidating word to many people. Some folks may think it means scrimping on everything and never going out for a night on the town. It doesn’t! Budgeting simply means that you know where your money is going and you have a way to track it.

budget quoteThe aim with budgeting is to be aware of your spending, plan for your expenses¹, and make sure you have enough saved to pursue your goals.

Without a budget, it can be easy for expenses to climb beyond your ability to pay for them. You break out the plastic and before you know it you’ve spent fifty bucks on drinks and appetizers with the gang after work. These habits might leave you with a lot of accumulated debt. Plus, without a budget, you may not be saving for a rainy day, vacation, or your retirement. A budget allows you to enact a strategy to help pursue your goals. But what if you’ve never had a budget? Where should you start? Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to get your budgeting habit off the ground!

1. Track your expenses every day

Start by tracking your expenses. Write down everything you buy, including memberships, online streaming services, and subscriptions. It’s not complicated to do with popular mobile and web applications. You can also buy a small notebook to keep track of each purchase. Even if it’s a small pack of gum from the gas station or a quick coffee at the corner shop, jot it down. Even tiny expenses add up to sizable amounts if not tracked. Keep track of the big stuff too, like your rent and bill payments.

2. Add up expenses every week and develop categories

Once you’ve collected enough data, it’s time to figure out where exactly your paycheck is going. Start with adding up your expenses every week. How much are you spending? What are you spending money on? As you add your spending up, start developing categories. The goal is to organize all your expenses so you can see what you’re spending money on. For example, if you eat out a few times per week, group those expenses under a category called “Eating Out”. Get as general or as specific as you wish. Maybe throwing all your food purchases into one bucket is all you need, or you may want to break it down by location – grocery store, big box store, restaurants, etc.

3. Create a monthly list of expenses

Once you’ve recorded your expenses for a full month, it’s time to create a monthly list. Now you might also have more clarity on how you want to set up your categories. Next, total each category for the month.

4. Adjust your spending as necessary

Compare your total expenses with your income. There are two possible outcomes. You may be spending within your income or spending outside your income. If you’re spending within your income, create a category for savings if you don’t have one. It’s a good idea to create a separate savings category for large future purchases too, like a home or a vacation. If you find you’re spending too much, you may need to cut back spending in some categories. The beauty of a budget is that once you see how much you’re spending, and on what, you’ll be able to strategize where you need to cut back.

5. Keep going

Once you develop the habit of budgeting, it should become part of your routine. You can look forward to working on your savings and developing a retirement strategy, but don’t forget to budget in a little fun too!

¹Jeremy Vohwinkle, “Make a Personal Budget in 6 Steps: A Step-by-Step Guide to Make a Budget,” The Balance (March 6, 2020).

Mediocre Money Mindsets

Healthy money habits start with mature money mindsets.

Even though it’s not always obvious, we carry lots of assumptions and attitudes about money that might not be grounded in reality. How we perceive wealth and finances can impact how we make decisions, prioritize, and handle the money that we have. Here are a few common money mindsets that might be holding you back from reaching your full potential!

I need tons of money to start saving
It’s simple, right? The rich are swimming in cash, so they’re able to save. They get to build businesses and live out their dreams. The rest of us have to live paycheck to paycheck, shelling out our hard earned money on rent, groceries, and other essentials.

That couldn’t be further from the truth! Sure, you might not be able to save half your income. But you might be surprised by how much you can actually stash away if you put your mind to it. And however much you can save right now, little as it might be, is much better than putting away nothing at all!

I need to save every penny possible
On the other side of the coin is the notion that you have to save every last penny and dime that comes your way. There are definitely people in difficult financial situations who go to incredible lengths to make ends meet. Just ask someone who survived the Great Depression! But most of us don’t need to haggle down the price of an apple or forage around for firewood. And sometimes, the corners we cut to save a buck can come back to bite us. Set spending rules and boundaries for yourself, but make sure you’re not just eating ramen noodles and ketchup soup!

I don’t need to budget
There are definitely times when you might not feel like you need to be proactive with your finances. You don’t feel like you’re spending too much, debt collectors aren’t pounding down your door, and everything seems comfortable. Budgeting is for folks with a spending problem, right?

The fact of the matter is that everyone should have a budget. It might not feel important now, but a budget is your most powerful tool for understanding where your money goes, areas where you can cut back, and how much you can put away for the future. It gives you the knowledge you need to take control of your finances!

Breaking mediocre money mindsets can be difficult. But it’s an important step on your journey towards financial independence. Once you understand money and how it works, you’re on the path to take control of your future and make your dreams a reality.

The FULL COST of Smoking Cigarettes

This is how smoking is usually pictured when the cigarette companies used to freely play mind games to convince you to smoke.

Nowadays, not many would argue the fact that smoking is bad for you. It’s linked to lung cancer and heart disease, and is associated with nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States.¹ Yet so many people, even some I know personally still smoke despite the health consequences.  Besides ruining your physical health, smoking can also seriously ruin your financial health.

The upfront cost of smoking
Cigarettes aren’t cheap. Prices per pack vary from $5.25 in Missouri to $12.85 in New York, but the national average comes out to around $6.28.²’³ Smoking a pack per day will run you $44 per week, $188 per month, and $2,292 per year. Over 20 years you’ll have spent $91,671 on cigarettes. You’ve literally burned almost 6 figures!

If you got it like Granny, then ‘burn baby burn’, I guess.

Health care costs of smoking
Besides the up front cost, there are more subtle costs associated with what I’ve heard some say is their way to relieve stress. Extra doctor visits, prescriptions, hospital bills, and other treatments all cost money, and smoking increases your chances of needing those at some point in your future. In total, smoking-related illness costs the United States over $300 billion per year.⁴ Smokers also have to face higher insurance costs because of the health risks presented by their habit. All told, smoking one pack per day costs around $15,000 a year, or $40 per pack.⁵ Having $15,000 go up in smoke sounds pretty stressful to me.

The opportunity cost of smoking
Opportunity cost is a concept covered in economics and business courses. So unless you’ve taken both at the K-12 and collegiate level like I have you might be drawing a blank here. In a nutshell, it’s FOMO realized. In other words, (for my non Gen Z & Millennial readers) what are you missing out on because you decided to spend resources on a different option.

In our smoking scenario it means what could you have done with that $15,000? Did you want to start building a business but found yourself short on start-up funds? Maybe that could be the foundation of your child’s college fund or inheritance. Or is it that vacation you desperately want to take (of course while still keeping your physical distance; not trying to sort out catch dat ‘rona). Is your habit costing you the potential to live on your terms and start building your future?

Anyone who may be reading this and is struggling to quit smoking, I understand that it’s hard but keep trying. I want to see you reach your full potential and stop missing out one life-changing opportunities. Check out these resources from the CDC. And share your story in the comments.

(1) https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm

(2) https://worldpopulationreview.com/states/cigarette-prices-by-state/

(3) https://smokefree.gov/quit-smoking/why-you-should-quit/how-much-will-you-save

(4) https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/economics/econ_facts/index.htm#:~:text=Smoking%2Drelated%20illness%20in%20the,%24300%20billion%20each%20year%2C%20including%3A&text=Nearly%20%24170%20billion%20for%20direct,due%20to%20secondhand%20smoke%20exposure

(5) https://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/benefits/events/flyers/tobacco-free/hidden-cost-of-smoking.pdf