Posts Tagged ‘save money’

How to Find Solid Interest Rates for Savings

Been to a bank lately? If you’re a saver, there’s not much for you to smile about.RocketSavings

It’s frustrating, isn’t it? You work hard to save money, and then there’s nothing to do with it. While interest rates have been supposedly on a rising path, a quick look at comparison sites shows that there’s not much out there paying more than one percent.

Let’s look at some potential ways to earn better rates on your money and examine the pros and cons of the various options, so you can approach your choices with a critical eye.

Money Markets:

What worries me: you aren’t beating inflation. I’ve heard arguments that inflation may be nonexistent but look at how much you’re spending on your craft…supplies…classes… Have those prices risen? I’ll bet they have.

Why I like it: Currently, money markets pay between a tenth of a percent and just over one percent. That’s certainly better than a savings account! (more…)

How to Finish the Year With a Flourish

In the final weeks of December, it’s important to take one last look back at the year. How’s your plan coming? If it’s like mine, there are still some items on the “to do” list that you’ve yet to mark off. We’re down to only a few weeks to finish up our goals for 2015.2015 to 2016

I was listening to a podcast recently with Hal Elrod (of Miracle Morning fame). He was sharing with the host that he sleeps very few hours most nights, but that it doesn’t seem to affect his day. He noticed that on short rest, everything hinged on his attitude. If he woke up and said, “Man, I’m tired. Today’s going to be awful,” the day stunk. If he said, “Alright! I’ve got a huge day today, no more time to sleep!” he became a powerful force in the universe.

I’m certainly not advocating that we give up sleep. More sleep AND a good attitude are probably the optimal one-two punch. However, if you’re in a situation where less sleep is the reality, attitude can change the game.

It’s the same with our money, isn’t it? Our attitude changes everything.

  • If I believe my debt’s killing me, it is.
  • If I think saving money is difficult, it is.
  • If I decide that I’m stuck in a rotten financial place, I am.

As creatives, we know from literature, film, plays, and even poetry, that the hero largely decides her fate. In the beginning of a three-act play, the character faces a problem. By the end of the work, the character has formed a plan, and for better or worse, they’re working through their plan to find a resolution. (more…)

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…)

2014 Year End Tax Planning: Good Holiday Fun

2014 Year End Tax Planning: Good Holiday Fun
2014 Sunset

Ready for some good times?

I love the holidays. Lights. Friends gathering. Tax planning.

I know what you’re thinking: one of those three doesn’t belong… but tax planning CAN be a whole festival of fun, even for creative people, because it can save you lots (and I mean lots) of money. Just like holiday shopping, though, there’s a clear deadline to tax planning. If you don’t want to miss out on the best tax “deals” you have to move on many of these tasks by December 31st – before the sun sets on 2014! (Okay so maybe I wanted a reason to use this beautiful photo…)

Like anything involving the government or numbers, many of my clients freeze whenever we begin talking about taxes. The first step in this game is to relax! Tax planning, believe it or not, can be easy to understand. Plus, the lessons you’ll learn will last your lifetime. As the government makes changes I’ve found I only have to adjust my thinking slightly.

Here are five tips to help you save some money on taxes: (more…)

The Case for Cutting Cable

Let’s Cut The Cord But Keep Your Entertainment RetroTV

I’m inspired by quality television. I’m against cutting out dramas or a good comedy from my routine, but I absolutely love saving money and getting the same value.

So, let’s start with $100 per month that you saved on cable and see how much we’ll have to spend of it to replace your favorite shows.

Netflix: For a fraction of the cost of your cable bill, you can stream many great (and some original) content from Netflix. Double the fee and you have access to nearly every DVD on earth. Cost? from $8. ($92 left)

Hulu: I get annoyed by Hulu premium plans because they keep commercials AND make you pay. But, then I think….”I was watching commercials when I had cable, and I was paying a ton!” Great point. Most top shows from all the major networks and more. Cost? $8. ($84 left)

Amazon Prime: The newest kid on the block, Amazon Prime, offers TONS of shows from many different sources, including most of the networks. That’s not all: you also get a music streaming service and access to many book-sharing programs PLUS (of course) free two day shipping on many products. Cost? $100 per year or $8.33 per month. ($75.67 left)

Sports: Missing your favorite sport? Sign up to watch them online. Major League Baseball allows people to watch every out-of-market game for $130 per year. Most major sports have similar packages. Cost? $10.83/mo. ($64.84 left)

Using four sources we just cut out the cable subscription and saved around 2/3 of the fee! Plus, you don’t have to wait….watch shows whenever you want!

(more…)

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…)

How to Save Money for Retirement Tax Free

RothIRAIn our last newsletter, I shared some tips on picking the right investment for your goals. But for many of us, another big question is this: “Where do I actually hold my investments?”

Much like artists generally have themes that run through their work, a prevailing theme you’ll find in financial planning is, “take advantage of tax shelters whenever possible.”

What’s a Tax Shelter?

Right now, the concept of a tax shelter might be as foreign to you as someone speaking an unfamiliar language. Honestly, for years I didn’t know the difference between a 401k and an IRA… However, once you’re able to work through this mumbo-jumbo of alphabet tax shelter soup, you’ll find that it isn’t as hard as it seems.

For most of us, the place to start is a Roth IRA.

(more…)