Posts Tagged ‘budget’

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. (more…)

Looking to Clean Up Your Finances?

Looking to Clean Up Your Finances? Copy Successful Health Programs

AppleCoins

A brilliant artist friend of mine recently wanted to lose weight. He picked up Tim Ferriss’ book 4 Hour Body and within a few months lost 20 pounds. He and I discussed how he finally was able to take off weight he’d talked about losing for a long time. His answers enveloped many of the themes I’ve covered when I work with people on effective money management. Let’s get creative today and see what lessons about money we can learn from health and weight loss programs!

It Starts With a Spark

One point he made that grabbed me was when he said, “I just one day decided I had to do things differently. It was like I flipped a switch. I’d had enough.” That’s true for better money habits, too. Every person I’ve met who decided that today was the day to get their financial house in order didn’t “take it slowly.” Sure, maybe they didn’t try to change ALL of their financial habits in a single day, but with one decision—to be different—they began either cleaning up their credit card debt, building savings, tracking their expenses….whatever.

I can usually tell when someone comes to me whether they’re going to be successful or not based on their attitude. If they simply say, “I’d like to change,” they rarely do. However, when someone can point out all of the reasons they NEED to handle money differently, I know they’re in business.

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Lowering the Cost of “the American Dream” – Part II

(This article continues the discussion on lowering expenses found here)AmericanDream2

In our first installment two weeks ago, I discussed ways you could drop the cost of the American Dream by lowering your essential expenses such as groceries, car expenses and apparel. Today, I’d like to tackle lowering the cost of the “extras” that USA Today calculated are important parts of what many consider a happy lifestyle. We’re creative people….lowering the cost of creative activities should be easy for us, right?

USA Today assigns $17,009 to extras, and breaks them down like this:

Family Summer Vacation: $4,580

Entertainment: $3,667

Restaurants: $3,662

Cable, Satellite, Internet, Cell Phone: $3,100

Miscellaneous Costs: $2,000

Good news! All of these costs can be lowered without giving up any happiness. How? Let’s dive in!

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Lowering the Cost of “The American Dream” Part I

AmericanDreamA recent USA Today article caught my eye. They said that the “American Dream” now costs $130,000 a year. Wow! Even as someone who works with people on their money, I was astounded. For those wanting to focus on creative endeavors that can feel like an impossible amount.

….then I began reading.

Let’s take a look at their list of expenses and consider how we might be able to make the dream more affordable (for a complete list of expenses and how they arrived at each portion, here’s a link to the actual USA Today story). Today we’ll tackle just the essential expenses, and then in my next blog post I’ll break down the rest of the budget.

These expenses assume a family of four living in a $275,000 home.

Housing: $17,062

Groceries: 12,659

Car Expenses: $11,039

Medical Expenses: $9,144

Education Expenses: $4,000

Apparel: $2,631

Utilities: $1,956

Essentials Total: $58,491

Before I tear into these numbers, it’s important to note that most people don’t know what they spend, so all of these numbers look high. When I work with people on their budget they nearly always find that they’re spending more in each of these areas than they thought. Those little one-time expenses really begin adding up. (more…)

It Isn’t Enough to Care (a Guide to REALLY Perfecting Your Craft)

BrainFullA friend emailed me asking for help.

“I care so much about (my craft). Why does it always end up coming last?”

There’s a short answer to this question.

It isn’t enough to care.

I’d submit it isn’t even just about hard work.

It’s about systems.

Setting up systems to win is the key to your success. Financially, having systems for the right tasks is equally important.

The Sherlock Holmes Story

In one of the Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, someone asks Sherlock about a piece of current events. Holmes replies that he has no idea what the person is talking about. The questioner is shocked. The great Sherlock Holmes doesn’t know something? Holmes replies that the mind is only so large. If you fill it with trivia, there won’t be room for the information you really need to be successful.

Practice The Sherlock Holmes Method of Systems

Your goal should be to fill your brain with your craft and the things that really matter to you. Therefore, everything that isn’t important shouldn’t take up very much space. (more…)

Avoiding Budget Buster Moments

Blocks Spelling Budget Falling Over As Symbol for Spending And BusinessWe’ve all had them: everything’s humming along fine with our craft and then there’s a special trip that “everyone else is going on.” Suddenly you’re spending money like a half-crazed couponer at a going out of business sale.

We call it the “budget buster” moment.

What is a budget buster moment? It’s when you’ve been a good saver for a long time and then feel like you deserve a treat.

Maybe you’ve worked on your craft harder than ever before.

Maybe you’ve kept a tight lid on your spending.

Maybe you’ve worked out and lost ten pounds.

Whatever the reason, you decide it’s time to celebrate. The budget goes out the window and you’re a money-spending, budget-busting fun person to hang out with… (more…)

Plugging Money Leaks

Plugging Money Leaks

Our bathroom faucet drips all day if you don’t turn the faucet hard enough. I learned that the hard way, noticing the dripping only after a whole weekend away. Sigh. My only thoughts as I twisted the handle as hard as I could, were about all the money I’d let drip down the drain.

I’ll bet I’m not alone, though. How many parts of your budget are you letting drip away, into places where the money disappears? While that’s bad news, we can look at this from a “glass half full” point of view: there are plenty of money leaks that we can plug to gain a quick shot of much-needed cash. Even if you feel like things are going well, wouldn’t it be fantastic to have some extra money to save for retirement, a new house, your art, or even to gift to your favorite charity?

Here are five areas that you can attack today to add more money to your pocket book:

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Why You Need to Start Saving for Retirement NOW! …A Success Story

I recently received this email from an actor who just finished working through the Artist’s Prosperity Home Study System:

Miata,

I just have to write and tell you how excited I am to have found you! I’ve been an actor for five years, struggling along with everyone else, and I finally decided that enough is enough: I need to put together a plan so I can really focus.

All of this time, I thought I had already been focusing on my art, when in reality, I was part-timing everything: my job, my family and my craft. Now, you’ve put me on a path that I don’t think I could have accomplished myself. I have an emergency fund, a separate checking account for my business, and for the first time, real hope for the future. While I have yet to score that elusive “great part,” my auditions are much better. I believe this is because I come in focused and without worrying about “how broke I am.” Sure, I still worry about money, but not in the “OMG, I need this role” desperate way that I have in the past.

Thank you again for what you do. I just wanted to let you know there are people out there who appreciate you very much.

Jessica

It is rewarding when we hear from folks who have started to take control of their financial futures, because the unfortunate truth is that many people simply never will.

I was just reading some statistics from a group called the Employee Benefit Research Institute. While most Abundance Bound readers are self-employed (and not employees of others), we frequently fall into these same traps and the results of their recent retirement survey weren’t encouraging: (more…)

Turn Your Hobby Into a Business

Reality television is amazing…while I’ll agree that most of it isn’t worth your time, I enjoy watching how some of the “stars” who elegantly perform in public actually work their butts off behind the scenes. Lifting the curtain on the daily tasks of a true artist shows that success is more than just creating a product. In most cases, you have to be a financially savvy marketing guru to succeed.

You need to think of yourself and your art, as a business. When people come to me for help they often don’t see themselves in this light. They’re frustrated because they can’t get traction with their financial picture or with their craft.

I have good news. Solving both of these problems requires many of the same skills.

1. Determine how much money it takes to operate your financial life.

The most important part of your craft and your financial life is to make sure that you’re able to turn the lights on tomorrow. Sit down with a sheet of paper and list each item you must have to live another day. How much money is it? (more…)

Setting Goals That Stick in 2013

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the strange place I found inspiration for my 2013 goals. This week, I’d like to address New Year’s Resolutions head-on. Every year millions of people write out a fresh list of goals in the hopes of making the next twelve months better than the previous dozen. We creative people are no exception: in our world, it’s often the well-disciplined artist who ends up on the road to loftier goals, while the dreamer without clear, concise milestones spends another year chasing the same first-tier plans (and never can figure out why he doesn’t achieve anything….). You know the ones; they’re the artists with grand ideas, fantastic plans, and nothing to show for it except a series of excuses.

One mistake that even big businesspeople make, is that they set professional goals, but forget about the fuel to get them there. It might not be the most glamorous activity, but remember your financial goals; don’t just focus on your art. By making sure that your financial picture is healthy, you’re bound to have the fuel ready to have a wonderful 2013 in your craft. By placing well-executed goals, you’ll get where you want to go faster, and with less bumps along the road.

 

 

Some Financial Goals to Act On

Emergency Fund – If you don’t have a cash reserve, now’s the time to start one. Anything can happen…and probably will….in 2013, so you’ll want the protection to know that when bad news occurs, you’ve got the money in the bank to easily get through it.

What’s a good reserve? Generally, I recommend having at least three months expenses in a safe place away from market fluctuation (like a bank account). (more…)