Deciding on a New Home – 3 Tips To Find Your Dream Property


Creative people look at the world a little differently. We tend to buy differently, often focusing on experiences over material goods. This even seeps for many of us into our decisions about property. If you’re someone who
appreciates aesthetics and fine art, there are some traps you’ll want to avoid if buying a new home. Thinking about purchasing a house? Maybe someday? We have you covered!

Remember Resale

Home Buying

Sure, you want to live in a home forever, but if you end up moving, you’ll want to be able to sell the property quickly. Here are four important areas to evaluate when making a home purchase:

1. Major roads and transportation. You want to be close to the train and have access to busy streets…but you don’t want them too close. Buyers will fall off quickly when you’re ready to sell if you’re on a major road or have railroad tracks running through your back yard. This can be a huge trap when you’re buying. Many houses on busy streets or bordering a railroad will look like deep discount properties. They are definitely discounted…but it’s because nobody’s buying and the seller has to practically give the home away.

2. Exteriors matter. A well-manicured lawn may tell you that a house is well cared for. But also, don’t overlook homes where you’ll be able to do a few simple pieces of yard and home exterior projects to improve the property. Curbside appeal can help drive potential buyers into your home (and make it more fun to come home to while you’re living in it!). Three easy steps can help you bring an exterior to life: power-wash the home, tame the landscaping and add color (either via landscaping or accent colors on your house) to make a home instantly more attractive. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 5 Features To Look For In A GOOD Checking Account


We want to spend lots of time on our craft… not on banking, so it’s important to have a checking account that gives us the ability to do everything we want, whenever we want.

The problem is, most of us have had the same bank account for a long time and have no idea what’s widely available.

Banking has changed significantly in the last five years. Banks are worried less about branches and now focus on online services… Well, at least the progressive bank is worried about online banking. Yours may not be yet, which is why I wanted to write this piece! The average millennial, according to a recent report, would rather NEVER set foot in a bank, and thinks that a bank is actually better if they can provide all services online. Banks are following… some kicking and screaming, but others are leading the charge.

Piggy Bank Shopping BasketSo how do you know if you have a good bank account? Here are five features that great bank accounts share:

1) No fee checking. This feature has been around for a long time, so if you don’t have a fee-free checking account, it’s probably time to make the switch. These types of accounts are common for personal use, but uncommon for businesses. If you’re looking for a fee-free checking account for your craft or business, you’ll need to visit one of the many comparison sites online, like MagnifyMoney or NerdWallet to see which banks offer this option. They’re out there… you just need to look.

2) Robust online banking. Online banking should now be easy and fluid. I should be able to move money between accounts, pay bills and check balances from any device… instantly. Initially, because of security precautions, signing up for online banking features can be a real pain (even if it’s a great bank), but the payoff is worth every bit of the trouble when you’re far from your bank and computer and need to transfer funds using your phone. Read the rest of this entry »

A Beginner’s Guide To Buying Stocks


A Beginner’s Guide To Buying StocksStockMarketPencils

So you’ve decided that your craft isn’t exciting enough on its own and you want to buy individual stocks? Today I’ll help you with that. While we don’t give investment advice on this blog, I can help you open up your account and learn a little bit about research. We’ll also cover some of the big mistakes new investors make so that you’ll be well on your way to buying your first shares.

Choosing an Account

To buy a stock, you’ll need an account to hold your stocks, called “shares.” Just like there are many definitions of “great art”, there are many “best” ways to open up an account for your shares. What makes a good holding tank? It depends on your goals. Read the rest of this entry »

Titles Matter – From Blog Posts to Financial Accounts


Wills and TrustsWhen I write anything I agonize over the title. Does it match the general mood I really hope to express? In my case, a poor title might cost me a few readers. But titles can matter much more in certain company. One art critic I know insists on being called “Mrs. X” instead of her first name. Another acquaintance, with a PhD in Philosophy, prefers to be called “Doctor Y” (and rightly so… he earned it!). If you want to work with either of these people, you need to use the appropriate title.

Why do I bring this up? It’s the same with your financial accounts. Having the wrong title associated with your money may mean unnecessary taxes or funds not ending up distributed as you wish.

Deciding How To Hold Money

Everyone worries about having enough money… that’s still the most important question. But maybe the second most important question is, “how should you hold your money?” Making sure it is available when you need it and in the most tax-efficient way possible can save you cash AND headaches… and it’s all controlled by the title.

Here are some of the decisions you’ll face.  Read the rest of this entry »

The #1 Hack to Help You Spend Less Money


I’ll admit it…as someone who tries to be creative, I often find myself looking for the most extravagant way to handle any money management issue. Then I can hear the voice of my mother in my ear:

The simplest solutions are often the most effective.

Isn’t that true? I can’t believe that the secrets to managing money are often the ones right in front of me… while I’m busy creating chaos and complexity.

I’ll share my hack for spending less money in a moment, but overall, it’s amazing just how many areas of our financial lives are managed by the very simple solutions that are right in front of us.

MoneyinWalletBudget

A good friend who’s a financial writer pointed this out to me at a networking meeting last week. She said, “Miata, I spend all this time writing about budgets and how to cut expenses… but it all boils down to one equation.” I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about until she told me:

The simple solution: Spend less than you make.

While that may seem TOO simple at first, it really is the heart of everything we do, isn’t it? Take out a pen and paper. Figure out how much is coming in. Cut expenses until they’re lower. Save the difference. Try to increase income more and spend less so your savings becomes bigger.

She’s right on: Budgets are a simple device that can be really, really powerful. Read the rest of this entry »

Deadlines and Penalties – What You Need To Know About Health Insurance


The world of health insurance has changed significantly over the last two years… especially for those of us who are fortunate enough to spend our days working in the craft we love. Whether you’re full time self-employed or contemplating it, one big area to understand is health insurance.

How you buy insurance depends on where you live. If you live in the USA, you’ll need to be aware of some important dates and the penalties for missing them.

Affordable Care Act

HealthInsurance

The Affordable Care Act was passed to ensure that all Americans have health insurance coverage. While some may want to focus on the politics of the Act, we’ll focus on complying with it. Effective financial planning means looking at the law right now and not what might or might not happen in Washington!

Unfortunately, if you’re reading this and don’t have health insurance now, you already paid a tax penalty. If your penalty didn’t hurt your pocketbook (the minimum penalty is at least $95… if you earned $50k or more it’s at least a $400 bite… so it should have!), you’ll see a much larger penalty next year. That’s why you want to get health insurance today if you live in the United States.

And while it is important to avoid penalties, lets also look at this from a different angle: you really need health insurance. Most bankruptcies are health related. Beyond the expensive costs of treatments and doctor visits you’ll have to shoulder without a minimum level of coverage, you’ll also find yourself avoiding medical care because you can’t afford it… and that road leads nowhere good. Read the rest of this entry »

Do I Need Disability Insurance?


Reader Question: Do I Need Disability Insurance?

Autumn writes: Hi Miata, Our financial advisor is pressuring me to buy disability insurance. I have some through my day job already. Isn’t that enough?

Autumn, you’re right to question your financial advisor… not because disability insurance is unnecessary (I’ll tackle that in a moment), but because you shouldn’t ever feel pressured by your advisors. While advisors may disagree with you about a course of action, their job is to give you the data you need to make good decisions.Disability Insurance

In this case, I do believe that the data supports your advisor’s assessment.

Here’s the hard fact: according to Cornell University, an astonishing twelve percent of Americans reported a disability in 2012. Twelve percent! People wonder why disability costs are so high…it’s because insurance companies think chances are high it’ll happen to you.

For someone like you, working in a day job and then presumably working on your craft as well, having disability coverage is even more important. Why? You’re relying on that day job to support your work. Without adequate income coming in, I’ve found many of my readers would be unable to continue pursuing the art they love.

“But I Have A Policy At Work”

Disability insurance is a complex topic. Most people’s work insurance policy simply isn’t enough. There are a few reasons for this: Read the rest of this entry »

Creatively Controlling Your Money Habit


A friend of mine likes to pay for lunch every time we meet. Surprisingly, she also always picks the most expensive places. I love to see her and there’s no reason for her to pay…but she always insists on paying anyway.

Lately, I’ve seen some disconcerting problems. Three weeks ago I could tell she was anxious.

Money Bubble

My friend, we’ll call her Rachel, shared that her husband Mike is now seeing a psychiatrist. “He always feels like he’s about to have a heart attack. After asking three doctors for opinions, he’s starting to realize that it’s in his head.”

“What have they found out?” I asked, worried.

Rachel said, taking a bite from her caprese salad, “They think it’s stress.”

When we parted, Rachel again paid for lunch over my continued objections, and then wrote me a check for some earrings from a mutual friend’s jewelry party.

I found out two days later the check bounced. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Fear Keeping You From Financial Success?


Is Fear Keeping You From Financial Success?

I’d like to share a secret about one trait many of us share. We have a fear of the unknown.

When I was a child, I was afraid of the dark. I’d check under my bed before turning out the light (which is funny now, because I never stopped to think that if there WERE bad things under there who cared if it was dark or not?). I’d open my closet door and thoroughly search. Then, even after all of that, I’d still pull the covers tightly around my head some nights, sure that the bogeyman had figured out how to sneak in through a heating vent and come to end my young life. PiggyBankUnderCovers

Luckily, that never happened.

You and I know, it will never happen.

People share this same fear when it comes to our finances. We fear walking into a new bank, opening accounts online, having money automatically deposited, sheltering money in an IRA, buying insurance we might not need, setting up estate documents that might be wrong.

We fear lots of things about money.

So how do we move past fear? It isn’t easy, I know. But if there’s anything that kills fear in your financial plan, it’s momentum. You have to get a running start.

Read the rest of this entry »

5 Creative Ways To Achieve Your Goals In 2015


I’m sure by now you’ve heard the acronym SMART when referring to goals. That means that your goals should be:

2015 LeapSpecific
Measurable
Actionable
Realistic
Time-Sensitive

Example: Instead of, I’d love to lose some weight this year, a SMART goal would be: I’ll lose 15 pounds by July 1st.

My Problem With SMART Goals

Really, I don’t have so much of a problem with them….as much as I think simply “SMARTing” your goals doesn’t necessarily fit our community. Don’t SMART goals sound—well, there’s no nice way to say this—boring? And as creatives, we want more than that from our goals, don’t we?

Here are five ways to create better goals in 2015 that’ll motivate you to get up and start moving!

Read the rest of this entry »