The Steps to Living Confidently: How to Set Up a Budget

Get ready. We’re about to get deep. Have you ever thought about what means, means? Yes, you can think about it for a moment…back now? Good. As a noun, it can be two things. It can refer to an action or system by which a result is achieved, or it can refer to income. Now, taking it a layer deeper, you need a means (a system) to live within your means (income). See how that works? Well, that’s what we call a budget and we’re going to show you how to set one up for step two of our 12-part series on living with greater financial and emotional confidence. Sounds basic? Well, 2/3 of Americans claim that they are not good at living within their means, yet they prioritize building savings for long-term goals.* How do we close that gap? Let’s get back to the basics. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FUD First, you have to overcome the big three psychological barriers that keep many people from setting up a budget: Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). Fear what you’ll discover when you examine your finances Uncertainty about how to set up a budget Doubt whether you can stick to a budget TRACK YOUR INCOME AND EXPENSES Don’t guesstimate how much money you have coming in and going out each month. Write it down. Keep track of all your expenses and sources of income. Some experts suggest doing this for a few months to get a real picture of your financial situation and starting to track for just a month will help you get some clarity. Even easier, scan your bank and credit card statements to see where it’s all going. Add up the expenses and subtract them from your income. This will tell you, at the most basic level, whether you are operating in the black or red. BEGIN TO BUILD YOUR BUDGET A successful budget enables you to meet your financial obligations and grow your bank balances to achieve those magic life goals. A useful concept is the idea of paying yourself first. Make sure to pay your mortgage or rent, insurance, loans, and credit card bills to avoid penalties and increased rates. As part of the paying yourself first philosophy, also begin to build your emergency fund with regular contributions to protect yourself and anticipate unexpected costs, such as car repairs, medical bills, and emergencies. The rest of your monthly income can then be put toward regular living expenses. Next, record your actual income and spending, and spot the areas that need attention. If you need to cut expenses, it may be helpful to: Rethink your digs: We often think of housing as a non-negotiable, but the truth is, you have options on how much you’re spending here Examine current bills: See where the money is going and think of cutting out extras and finding cheaper alternatives Pay with cash: There’s something about the tactile quality of cash that makes it hard to part with Adjust your habits: [...]

2018-05-15T15:04:42+00:00 By |

Four Steps to Problem Solving

“Hold up your cup here is some positive tea that I want to pour out for you”.   Whether you are a student or a professional, whether in school, work or just private life, you will bump into problems in form of situations, personal issues, career or school work which will demand you to solve them. While some problems are quite straightforward with a smooth path for solving them or having a known solution, this is not always the case. No one is born knowing how to manage problems. It is a learned skill and builds from one situation to another. However, there is a set of steps one goes through when solving complex problems. FOUR MAJOR STEPS!    Identify and clarify the problem.  Your first task is acknowledging or recognizing that a problem exists. Make sure you are pinpointing or addressing the root of the problem. There may be multiple issues within a single situation. Make a list of these issues and define why each one is a problem to you. Focus on behaviors rather than on yourself or a person. Be aware of the words you use when you're talking to yourself.   Incorrect example: "The problem is that I am dumb." Correct example: "The problem is that I easily allow others to mislead or betray me because I trust people too quickly."   Defining Goals. Try to define and write down your goals specifically, while making them as realistic and achievable as possible. By doing this you’re increasing your chances of achieving it sooner. An example of a poor or broad goal is "I want to live a happy life." First, define what happiness means to you and what you can do to feel happier overall. Try to form your goals in the sense of actions you can take to achieve the desired goal. Don’t leave it for later. You’ve done that before and it didn’t turn out well. Your goals can help you take things to the next level in any area of life. There are some things in life you just got to do. Don’t wait. DO IT NOW!   Set A Deadline. Would you believe that finding the solutions isn’t the step that people have the most trouble with? It’s actually the part where you have to take action! Most of the time, people KNOW what they have to do, they just don’t do it. So, to avoid falling into this booby trap, set up a deadline for when you will have this issue taken care of. Deadlines push us. Adam Savage, an American industrial designer, wrote, “I've learned over decades of building that a deadline is a potent tool for problem-solving.” It’s crucial to create deadlines for yourself to help you achieve your goals. Stick to it no matter what, carve it in stone if you have to!   Evaluation. It's time to evaluate your success. If you were successful, congratulations! If not, no worries. Focus on corrections. [...]

2018-05-17T17:10:00+00:00 By |

The Steps to Living Confidently: Define Your Life Goals

Are you looking for a fresh start or a “new you”? Perhaps a slimmer you? Or a stronger you? Or a you that can finally speak Italian, make perfect risotto, and restore a farmhouse in Tuscany? Well, we say any kind of transformation is wonderful, but think about applying your energy to something that is probably causing you more stress than you realize. YOUR FINANCIAL PICTURE Guardian recently surveyed thousands of Americans, and nearly 80 percent report being seriously stressed out. And since overall well-being is directly linked to financial well-being, much of that angst is rooted in financial concerns. In fact, nearly two-thirds of us say we are pretty bad at living within our means. The amazing thing is, you can change that! This article kicks off a monthly series on how you can—calmly, deliberately, and purposefully—move from feeling concerned to feeling confident in managing your finances. This series will build, step by step, from easy to more challenging, until you have implemented each point that may apply to your personal situation and better secure your own financial well-being. DEFINE YOUR LIFE GOALS Wait! Don’t go away. This is more fun than it sounds. We all know that people who write down their goals have a greater chance of success. And we hate those people, don’t we? But listen up, they sleep like babies, while the rest of us lie awake at 3:00 a.m. obsessing about credit cards. As the Rolling Stones once said: [to know] what you want [is the first step to having the financial resources to] get what you need. Or something like that. In any case, do you want to make more money? Retire early? Change careers? Start a family? Open a business? It’s time to figure out THE REALLY IMPORTANT THINGS IN YOUR LIFE because they are the starting point for making smarter financial decisions (And, bonus, they’re good to know, just because). Here are some tips on identifying your goals: LEAD WITH YOUR HEART, NOT YOUR HEAD This is serious stuff, but don’t let your intellect overrule your true feelings. The more honest you are about setting goals that are meaningful to you, the more motivated you’ll be to achieve them. BE SMART ABOUT IT Psychologists tell us success is more likely when goals are SMART—meaning they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Recognizing that you want to get out of debt is a good start. But creating a goal of paying off one credit card (specific, measurable, achievable) over the next 12 months (time-bound) to begin saving for your children’s college fund (relevant) is even better. THINK LONG AND SHORT Those who are most confident about their finances see life as a long road trip. As you identify goals, balance those in the near-term (new home) with those further down the road (vacation of a lifetime, retirement), and make sure you have security to weather unexpected storms (emergency fund, insurance) along the way. TALK WITH AN [...]

2018-05-01T11:57:08+00:00 By |

Seven Reasons Why You Should Never Give Up On Your Dreams

“Hold up your cup here is some positive tea that I want to pour out for you”.   People have different capabilities of handling tough problems and the failures that may come along. Some would give up even before they get started. Others persist and achieve their dreams no matter how difficult the path proves to be. A philosopher once said that one’s ability to deal with obstacles, as well as their failures determine how successful they will be. This essay discusses the reasons that encourages not giving up on one’s own dreams. First, everyone struggles at some point in life. You are neither the only one nor are you the first one to be in tough situations. In the same way roses grow amidst thorns, and it calls for struggle to pluck them, no perfect outcome comes from no struggle. A wise man said that nothing comes on a silver plate. The life story of Oprah Winfrey provides a clear demonstration of how this successful woman emerged from rags of poverty, to be among the richest icon producers in the world. Other icons such as Dwayne Johnson and Lewis Howes have the same story of consistent struggles and later success. Secondly, there is more than one option in every situation. Success calls for proper evaluation of one’s past successes and failures to identify the best path to take towards the pursuit of their dreams. Thirdly, past failures should not determine one’s own future. In fact, setbacks improve creativity and thus, one should embrace them, learn from them and use them as a stepping stone to success. After noticing that his production was not selling well in the market, Dwayne Johnson learned from his failures and laid down his agents, and again emerged at the top of the market. Fourth, no struggles last forever and one should stay positive that the situation will get better sometimes. Some writer advises that staying focused on the prize and being persistent no matter the price attracts some fine reward. If one has true interest in gaining something or attaining a goal, they should never give up and finally they will achieve their objectives. Remember, a faint heart never wins a fair lady. Fifth, you were born and, therefore, there is no way you won’t face challenges on earth. Every human being exists to find a course in life; which presents a rough path at some point. The fact that you are alive gives you no chance to do nothing less than struggle. Scientists suppose that you were the luckiest among the four hundred trillion gametes to be conceived. Thus, you are a fighter and you can do anything you dream of with sufficient effort and determination. Whatever happens in one’s own life is directly proportional to the choices they have made as well as their ability to pursue their dreams and goals in life. The only excuse that you can give for failure or despair is death. Age, [...]

2018-04-29T07:14:08+00:00 By |

It’s Your Winning Season

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you fought to the bone to get it? “Hold up your cup. Here is some positive tea that I want to pour out for you”. “There is no easy way to victory. The highest values in life must be fought for and won.” –Duncan Campbell Everything achieved throughout mankind has been from those who were driven enough to get it. One of the greatest boxing matches in history was the “Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas” historical match, in which, then undefeated heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, lost to a knockout by the underdog Buster Douglas. In the time leading up to the historical fight, Douglas faced a number of setbacks including the death of his mother days before the fight, and also health issues due to the flu the day before the “BIG” fight. In the 8th round,Tyson landed a thundering right uppercut that sent Douglas to the floor. No one thought he would get up, but after 9 seconds just before the bell ending the round, he got back up on his feet. Then in the 10th round, Buster Douglas accomplished something that no one had ever done. Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson. The TRUTH is that a winner knows when to quit and when to stick it out. A winner never quits on a worthy goal. If you want to be a winner at whatever it is that you do, you need to start doing what winners do. Speak positivity to your mind and spirit. Say to yourself right now, “I AM A WINNER, THIS IS MY SEASON, I CAN’T LOSE.” Positive thinking is essential because it is BETTER THAN toxic thinking. With toxic thinking, you don’t even stand a chance to win. At least with positive thinking, you establish belief that your promise land awaits you. Don’t let yourself remain a victim of toxic thinking. Embrace your “winning season” now. Change your circle, be around winners. When you surround yourself with people who loves winning it awakens your desire to improve and push yourself even closer to your limits. Toxic people are in love with losing. They create drama deliberately in order to attract more attention and engage in manipulation. Toxic people’s behavior sucks away all of your desires, dreams, and ambitions. Their mentality will offset you, giving you no chance to win. Instead, go out and find some people who you can learn from, then the opportunities to win will be endless. Finally, don’t publicize your failure, but analyze them. What dream have you given up on based on last year’s failures? No matter who you are or what you do for a living, believe in your heart something good is about to happen. If no one else has told you today, you are an overcomer. That means you are a winner, not a loser. You are not your mistakes. That may have been your past, but today is a New Day! Utilize [...]

2018-03-20T01:09:20+00:00 By |

Tips for Making Your Money Stretch in Retirement

Retirement has many rewards, but perhaps the most important is the ability to live off the savings you have amassed throughout your working years. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average American is spending 20 years in retirement. In many cases, your retirement may be even longer. Are you confident that you have saved enough to cover your entire retirement? In 2014, the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) reported that only 29% of workers are very confident they have enough money to take care of basic expenses in retirement. That’s down from 38% twenty years ago. You can boost your confidence with smart strategies to stretch your money in retirement. Here are three tips to get you started. TIP #1: CATCH UP Before you retire, take advantage of ‘catch up’ provisions made available by the IRS. If you’re age 50 or older, you may make an additional contribution of up to $6,000 to your 401(k) retirement plan in 2016. If you have a traditional or Roth IRA, you can make catch up contributions of up to $1,000 in 2015 and 2016. By using these provisions to your advantage, you can add extra padding to your retirement nest egg. TIP #2: DOWNSIZE Your home is probably one of your greatest assets. According to EBRI Notes (July 2012), 8 in 10 Americans report living in houses they own at the age of 65. However, after retirement, you may not need the same amount of space that you did while working and raising a family. According to the Social Security Administration’s 2013 report Expenditures of the Aged, at 35% housing is the largest component of expenditures for those aged 65 or older. Whether you own or rent your home, reducing your housing costs can help you stretch your retirement savings or free up funds for other activities such as travel. In addition to downsizing, you may also consider relocating to a community with a low cost of living, or one that offers other conveniences such as easy access to healthcare or amenities within walking distance. TIP #3: DELAY By simply delaying the start of your retirement, you create valuable advantages. Not only do you extend your potential income earning ability, you also gain additional time to save, and to watch your savings grow. If you delay your retirement, you’re not alone. According to a 2013 study by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs, nearly half of workers plan to retire at an age later than what they expected when they were 40. Many cite financial and health-related needs as the most important factors influencing this decision. Moreover, if you choose to work part time throughout your retirement, you’re in the majority. According to the same survey, 82% of Americans aged 50 or older report that they are likely or very likely to do some work for pay throughout retirement. Another strategy to stretch your retirement savings is to delay when you begin receiving Social Security [...]

2018-05-04T15:23:21+00:00 By |

Take “Never” Out Of Your Vocabulary

“Hold up your cup here is some positive tea that I want to pour out for you”. "I give up! I'm not going to bother anymore!" You've said things like that at some point, I'm sure. So have I. When you just can't seem to get something right, it seems a waste of time to try any more. We all have our ways of limiting what we think we can do and what we believe we can accomplish. When we limit our thinking we limit our growth and then we totally miss out on opportunities because we think we can NEVER do it. Never is such a discouraging word. Why do we say we’ll never do something? “I’ll NEVER lose weight.” “I’ll NEVER get a better job.” “I’ll NEVER graduate from college.” “I’ll NEVER be able to afford college/a house/to have kids.” “I’ll NEVER pay off this debt.” “I’ll NEVER be able to retire.” NEVER is a very narrow way of looking at things. That leads me to tell you, “NEVER SAY NEVER.” I know, I know. It’s a Justin Bieber album, but it’s actually a true statement. Thinking of the word “NEVER” with one of your dreams really isn’t going to help. It’s going to frustrate you and drag you down. If I thought to myself, “Ugh, I’m never going to be an article writer,” would I be here? Most definitely not. Achieving a goal is a wildly exhilarating thing. If you’re flirting with the idea of giving up, you could be throwing away something wonderful―your best future. “Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.” ―James A. Michener There’s going to be anxiety about uncertainty and fear about failing, but push yourself to keep going. After all, you’ll never know how close you are to succeeding if you quit now. Resilient people are known for their grit and determination, an outlook that acknowledges that challenges lie ahead, but rather than fearing them, welcomes them and the growth that will surely accompany them. They are inclined to think ahead, display characteristics of optimism and positivity, and a refusal to capitulate to external pressures. “You just can’t beat the person who won’t give up.” ―Babe Ruth Resilience is all about positivity. We must try to actively bring positivity into our lives as it becomes a resource, a well from which we can draw strength in times of need. We must absorb all we can from the good things in our lives. All your life you wanted other people to believe in you and yet you do not belief in yourself. Now, hopefully you realize that you project into others what you feel inside. Therefore, if you want others to belief in you, first you have to belief in yourself. It doesn’t even have to be about your career. It can be with anything—friends, love, family, money, etc. Just always have hope, think positive and avoid being a Debbie Downer. Oh yeah, and NEVER SAY [...]

2018-02-09T20:45:52+00:00 By |

Knock Down Your Obstacles

“Hold up your cup here is some positive tea that I want to pour out for you”. If achieving goals were easy, everyone would do it quickly and without difficulty. Even if your vision is clear and you can articulate a detailed destiny, there are always obstacles in the path. An obstacle is an object, thing, action or situation that causes an obstruction. We stumble not because the goal is out of reach, but rather because of unexpected obstacles. When these obstacles arise they make the goal seem kind of improbable. The reason obstacles prevent us from moving forward toward the attainment of our goals is because of the thoughts that we allow ourselves to dwell upon. Thoughts like: I don’t have a degree. That’s the reason why I am not succeeding. I have 3 kids. I barely have time to do my business, so that’s the reason why there is no result. My parents did not teach me anything, so that’s the reason why I am not successful. My family does not believe in me, so that’s why I don’t create success. I work overtime including weekend. I barely have time for creating success. Realize, your obstacles or giants want you to surrender before you even try. They want you to keep making excuses that hinder your future progress. They want you to embrace your negative thoughts. They want you to disqualify yourself. Your giants want you to focus on your past, squander your present, and forfeit your future. One of my favorite stories of victory over a perceived insurmountable obstacle was David versus Goliath. Goliath was the obstacle that was standing in the way of Israel’s victory. He did not issue his challenge one time and then leave. For forty days, every morning and every evening he challenged the men of Israel. He intimidated them with such fear that they would run and hide when they heard his challenge. One day, a kid name David accepted the challenge. Instead of running in the opposite direction from his obstacle, he ran towards him. He did not just talk a good game about how he was going to defeat Goliath. His faith and determination showed through his actions. Everyone thought that David did not stand a chance against the giant, but they failed to realize that David was ready to knock down his Goliath. My question for you: Are you ready to knock down your Goliath? It is time to shut your mouth and put your faith in action. It is time to stop talking about what you dream of doing and develop a plan and execute it. Do not let storms or anyone tell you that you cannot do something in your life that you want to accomplish. This is what dreams are made of. Although it may be a cliché, it really is true that you can achieve whatever you want in life if you put your mind to it. Attitude is everything, and [...]

2018-02-09T20:52:12+00:00 By |

Are You a Risk Taker

“Hold up your cup. Here is some positive tea that I want to pour out for you”. What is a Risk? You can say it’s a dark tunnel before you reach the end of it. It’s a storm before you can see a rainbow. In other words, it’s a path of uncertainties and insecurities before something great happens. Too many people “play it safe.” This is the playground of mediocrity. It’s where average people live. They color inside the lines and always play by the rules. They fear the unknown and rarely, if ever, venture outside the boundaries. People who “play it safe” are predictable. Their life is run by rules and routine. Their actions are often dictated by the opinions of others. This is the crowd that fights to keep things the same. Risk-takers, live in the realm of possibility and greatness. They are not afraid to live beyond the boundaries and to color outside the lines. To them, there is no such thing as failure; only experiments that didn’t work! Risk-takers are marked by a sense of adventure and passion. They care little for the accolades of the crowd. They are more focused on squeezing everything they can out of every moment. They are not afraid to “boldly go where no one has gone before.” For instance, several years ago I was asked by a friend of mine to go hiking in Southern California. He asked about twenty people to go with him. Everyone eventually backed out except me. That trip became one of the defining moments of my life. Why did I do it, but so many others backed out? Because I am a risk taker. Becoming a risk taker seems to have a negative connotation to it.  The word brings up images of danger, hazards or even loss. But no matter how dangerous the idea of risk taking is, there is an even greater danger of not taking risks. Risks are a key ingredient to living life to the fullest. Think about it. Try naming one historical figure that made a difference by playing it safe and being average. We are inspired by people who go beyond the norm and push the boundaries of possibility. Mediocrity, on the other hand, does not inspire. For example, Bill Gates has consistently made big moves to get what he wants. It is this bold, 'buy it or bury it,' risk-taking personality that has made Gates the success he is. Henry Ford would have never invented the automobile if he had paid attention to his critics. David would have never defeated Goliath if he had allowed his own family to discourage him. The list goes on and on.   If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary. – Jim Rohn Fortunately, the skills of becoming a successful risk taker can be learned. The first thing you need to do is make sure you’re looking at risk [...]

2018-02-09T20:44:13+00:00 By |