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America Saves Week 2017

February 26, 2017

Here it is 2017 America Saves Week (ASW), and Money Wise Advisors has teamed up with the American Savings Education Council to motivate, encourage, and support low-to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. The 2016 annual ASW survey assessing national household savings revealed:

Just two out of every five U.S. households report good or excellent progress in meeting their savings needs.
– 52 percent are saving enough for a retirement with a desirable standard of living.
– Only 43 percent have automatic savings outside of work.
– More men (74 percent) report saving progress than woman (67 percent).
-Those with a savings plan with specific goals (55 %) are making much more savings progress than those without a plan (23 %).

The research clearly demonstrates that those with a plan are nearly two times as likely to spend less than they earn and save the difference. America Saves Week is the perfect opportunity for my readers to set a savings goal, make a savings plan, and save automatically.
America-Saves-Week-2017-Participant-BadgeIn 2016, I coached several clients to create a savings plan. Similar to the results above, those who believed they could, wrote down a goal, and signed up for an automatic savings plan achieved their goal. The easiest way to accomplish your savings goal is to sign up at your bank or credit union.
As we continue on our awareness journey, how much more secure would you feel if you had a $1,000 emergency fund in a savings account right now? Would there be less fear of getting a flat tire, a fence falling down, or a roof leak? Could you stop using the credit cards, and start working on paying down debt and savings toward future goals and retirement? Write down your plan, and take action this week.
So far this year we have you reading your bank statements, bills, and investments, and committing to an automatic savings plan. In March we will be looking at creating a basic retirement strategy. If you’re ready to increase your money awareness, contact me for a Complimentary one hour Strategic Session to review your finances and write some goals for 2017.


Your mystery solved: where did the money go?

January 26, 2017

One of the reasons I like working with numbers is because I enjoy solving problems. Word problems, mysteries, puzzles, they all interest me. Like a good detective, I pulled these “Five Steps to Solving a Murder” from the show Unusual Suspects. It’s the same when we are looking for where all your money is going. It can be a complicated process, and the answer isn’t always the most obvious.

Document everything in the Murder (or Money) Book
Have a computer and/or file folder for all your financial records. Especially in January, take the time to read ALL your statements. Bank Statements, IRA from previous employer, credit card bills, car payment invoice, gym membership, phone, electricity and entertainment.

Record Every Step: Make a list of your monthly bills that are always the same. Next, list bills that may change each month, such as electricity and credit cards. Lastly, start tracking those bills you only pay occasionally, such as car registration, holiday gifts, birthdays, subscription renewals. Those will take a while to track as the year goes by.
Nail Down the Timeline: Total all the monthly bills to see how much you owe per month. Note the credit cards, car payment, student loans, the % interest, the minimum payment, and the date it would be paid in full.
Follow Every Lead: Read those statements carefully, are you being billed correctly? Are your payments being applied correctly? Are there any additional fees you don’t understand? Look at your credit report – are there any outstanding items you didn’t know about? Do you need help to negotiate the amount due?
Treat Everything as Evidence: Look at your year-end W-2 or 1099. How much did you make in 2016? How much was withheld in taxes? How much did you have available to spend? With the information from previous steps, can you figure where most of your money went? Do you see some holes? Were you surprised by how much you spent on groceries and eating out? Instead of trying to resolve last year, start on a better track in 2017.
Perseverance: Set some measurable goals. Negotiate some bills, follow-up to ensure the rate is reduced. Pay off a couple of small bills to get them out of the way. When do you want to increase your 401K contributions? Can you get your taxes done early, and use the refund to pay off some bills?

It is frustrating when you lose money and can’t solve the mystery of where it went. If you’re having difficulty with these steps, contact me for a Complimentary one hour Strategic Session to review your finances and figure out how we can solve your mystery.


A Happy Ending to a Long 2016

December 26, 2016

This time of the year I let my sense of control down, and plan for a happy ending to a long year. I’ve worked a lot, volunteered, cared for others, traveled, raised a puppy, let go of a surrogate daughter for her to spread her wings, made some big decisions, and most of all have tried to be present in the moments as they flew by.
These next few weeks, though, are the tough ones to manage. I want you to think about your long-term goals, and to celebrate awareness of all that you enjoy this holiday season. There are expectations, fuzzy boundaries, and always those with less. Some don’t see this time as a celebration, and struggle to make it through to the new year. Here are some end-of-year guidelines:

  • What expectations do you have for yourself and others? Communicate with your co-workers, friends and family so that we all understand your needs. Reveal If you’d like a quiet day or week. Let them know if you’d like some company. Convey that quality time is the most precious gift of all.
  • Be aware when shopping, now that most everything has been thought about and purchased. The ones you “forgot” probably were not really on your list, so don’t buy last minute gifts. The sales before and AFTER Christmas aren’t a good deal if you don’t need anything.
  • Whatever festivities you do participate in, be present and enjoy. Don’t worry about who didn’t show, or who looks more generous or more dressed up than you. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a big threat this time of year; only attend the events that make you happy.
  • Your health is more valuable than all the happenings. Make healthy food choices most of the time, offer to be the designated driver, and stay home if you are not feeling well.
  • Last of all, be generous with any time or resources you may have. We just rang the bell for Salvation Army this afternoon, and enjoyed spreading good cheer. Drop some change or a bill in the next bucket you see. Help those less fortunate, or make some plans to volunteer in the new year. Be present in all you do.


  • Money is not the tool to make this a joyous time of year. People and the valuable time you spend with them are the best of all. Celebrate whatever meaning the holidays have for you, and have a prosperous New Year.


    Have you Planned Your Taxes?

    November 15, 2016

    Here it is, the end of 2016. You already ate the Halloween candy you got early on sale, decided who is hosting Thanksgiving, and made a holiday shopping list. Have you scheduled your year-end tax review? Have you ever met with your tax preparer before the end of the year? Let’s make this year this first of a new tradition. Who are you going to meet with? CPA, friend, relative, Tax Software provider, Store Front preparer? Have they ever offered this service to you? Probably not.
    I’d like to introduce you to a profession called Enrolled Agent (EA). EAs are the only federally licensed tax preparers who also have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS. That should tell you right away that an EA is a highly trained professional. Even better, they charge what I would call very reasonable rates for the high quality of expertise compared to the other options mentioned earlier.

    Here are a few ways an EA will help an individual or business:
    – Effective tax planning – planned timing can make a substantial tax difference
    – Paycheck withholding advice
    – IRA advice
    – Entity selection for business
    – Team up with your Bookkeeper, CFO, Financial Advisor, Business Coach to make valuable personal and business decisions that work in all segments
    – Review prior years’ returns
    – Financial records organization
     

    EAs can’t do everything; you will need a CPA for audited financial statements (Large corporations, public corporations, non-profits) and audit preparation. Popular tax software does not always include business schedules; an EA will prepare all necessary schedules.

    I personally recommend Rochelle Margucci, EA. I have seen her contribute outstanding Business Consulting, guide many with Business Entity Selection, provide IRS Representation, and is always my go to professional when my clients need accurate and appropriate advice. Please contact Rochelle, or another qualified Enrolled Agent and plan your taxes before this year ends.

    The overall goal is to help you take control of your money, reduce stress, and start THRIVING.Enjoy the good life, knowing you have reduced your financial risk, and have taken well-planned steps to ensure a thriving future. Give it try with a complimentary 60 minute strategic session. Get motivation from my posts on Facebook. Call 916.217.1967 or email me to set a time to discuss your action plan.


    3 Ways Doing Nothing is Costing You

    September 4, 2016

    When I was supervising a large office, I often felt I was fighting fires instead of proactively running the business. It’s not easy to turn around the flow and sense of urgency. My business partner and I made a commitment to each other to return our position to preemptive management. It took planning, setting and sharing goals, and commitment to making positive changes. With these changes we turned our department into a leading customer focused operation. Our office ran on less staff time, created highly satisfied customers, and grew our business, setting new records.

    How are your business or personal finances suffering from your inaction? Here are some ways you may be inadvertently losing time and money:

    1. Precious time lost. If you don’t have a daily, weekly, and monthly plan that consistently works, stuff happens to you at an alarming rate. At home, I’d check my bills every day, and pay as I received them. It took time every day, instead of only twice a month as I do now. At work, I didn’t plan the job assignments and share the goals clearly to our employees so they could be focused on their responsibilities. I did not break down my varied accountability to a planned day on my calendar so I could focus on each one at a time.

    2. Loss of Capacity. How much time, energy and resources could you save with strategic planning? How much more revenue could you create if your finances were streamlined? How much easier would it be to focus on the planned task if nagging distractions would vanish?

    3. Not pursuing your passion. What dreams have you left behind? Is where you are in your current situation not exactly where you expected you’d be by this time? Do you feel resentment because others are thriving? Does it just seem easier for some people to be successful?

    Stop the chaos and get out of the firefighting business. Make a commitment to turn your personal or business activities around. Write down what you’d like to achieve in the next month. List measurable action steps that you can start today. We can’t do it all by ourselves. Ask for help from your family and business partners.

    Hire a Personal Money Coach to help you identify the best strategic path. {tweet this} 

    Share your goals to have more accountability to results. If you don’t change soon, how are you going to improve your position?

    The overall goal is to help you take control of your money, reduce stress, and start THRIVING. Enjoy the good life, knowing you have reduced your financial risk, and have taken well-planned steps to ensure a thriving future.Give it try with a complimentary 60 minute strategic session. Get motivation from my posts on Facebook. Call 916.217.1967 or email me to set a time to discuss your action plan.


    8 Ways Being Money Mindful Can Improve Your Finances

    July 10, 2016

    One of the first things I do with new clients is ask them some questions to identify how aware they are of their money and spending habits.  Here are eight ways to measure your money mindfulness.

    Take a moment and notice your spending impact on your partner/family:  I agree that everyone should have a little bit of discretionary money to spend without having to share the details with everyone else.  When it’s “our” money, and I decide to spend it on “me”, and it isn’t planned, how will your partner feel?  Will you sneak your online purchases into the house when no one is there?  What if they found out?  How would you feel if they slipped some new tools into the garage when you weren’t there?  I’ve seen couples “get even” when the other slips up, and spend even more.

    Be present for happy, fun moments that don’t cost money:  We love to walk through our neighborhood, and we often take pictures of what we see.  It’s fun, and even healthy.  Beneficial activities are first on the list, and also include picnics and front porch dinners with the torches lit.

    Be aware of needs vs. wants: I need soap to take a shower; I want fancy smell-good shower gels.  I need a clean home; I want a housekeeper.  I need a refrigerator, I want the stainless steel one with all the latest improvements.  It all adds up – big and small purchases

    Notice when you are avoiding a money decision:   You left your job for a new one, and haven’t rolled the 401K account yet because you’re not sure where to put it.  You know you should compare insurance rates, but you have to find your current policy, look at the coverage, find competitors, call or chat with the sales rep, on and on and on.  Income taxes – how many ways are there to procrastinate?

    Be cognizant of rationalizations when making decisions:  I worked extra hard this week, so I deserve to have a nice dinner out this weekend.  These clothes are out of style, our son should join both sports, all my nieces and nephews need gifts on birthdays and holidays to show we care.

    Be discerning when shopping:  I bought a pair of pants on clearance that needed to be dry cleaned.  One dry cleaning trip cost more than the slacks.  Just because it’s at the warehouse store doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you to buy it.

    When receiving knowledgeable financial advice, be conscious of your hesitations, ask questions, and share all pertinent information:  When you are meeting with a financial advisor, make sure you understand the investment products.  If you don’t understand what it is, ask.  If they ask you if you have any other investments, give them an honest answer.  You don’t want to invest your money in the same product and be more at-risk.  If something just doesn’t sound right, ask more questions.  I once had three appointments with a financial advisor about a new product.  At the third meeting, I still didn’t understand, and did not invest in the product.  Don’t feel guilty about wasting their time and feeling like you have to invest in their product.

    Read all your bills and statements as a concerned consumer: For one full month, read every single bill and statement you receive.  That means mail and email.  Look at your balance, the due date, and the itemization of the invoice, the fees incurred, the interest rate, the investments held, including all the transactions on your bank statement.  You may find a few items that you can question, and perhaps stop fees that you have been paying without knowing.

    The overall goal is to help you take control of your money, reduce stress, and start THRIVING.  Enjoy the good life, knowing you have reduced your financial risk, and have taken well-planned steps to ensure a thriving future. Get motivation from my posts on Facebook. Are you ready for a complimentary 60 minute strategy session? Call 916.217.1967 or email me to set a time to discuss your mindfulness.


    Happy Graduation

    May 10, 2016

    As spring turns the corner into summer, graduations are celebrated everywhere.  You may have invitations to attend a few, and gifts are always appreciated.  What can you give to a college graduate who isn’t sure what their future holds for them?  I have a solution:  A Custom Graduation Money Coach Summer Session.

    Students absorb so much information over the four years of classes, and I know my brain was ready for a break after the last set of finals and term papers were completed.  This is a time to relax, sleep in, and enjoy perhaps your last summer of true freedom.  Summer is also a time to reflect on your school experiences, and make some plans for the future.  I help graduates learn some basic money and risk management skills, networking expertise, saving strategies, and completing a written plan to use as a guideline for decision making.

    Grandparents, Parents, Godparents, Aunts/Uncles all want the best for the future generation of employees and business owners.  Providing a Money Coach Summer Session will give your loved one stronger footing when stepping out into the big world out there.  Those learning some new skills, having some guidelines to use when making decisions, and actually writing down goals are 42% more likely to achieve their objectives.

    Helping college graduates is important to me, because I’ve been there, and appreciated the wonderful advice I received, and also had to learn a lot of lessons myself that were expensive in terms of money lost, increased stress level, and wasted time.  The pricing for the Money Coach Summer Session is $1,000 if paid in full by June 30, 2016.  As of July 1st, the price increases to $1,250.  These sessions will only be available for purchase through August 30th.

    Reflect on the excitement and apprehension you experienced during your first summer after college, and provide some extra tools and resources to your graduate to make the journey a bit more enjoyable in this complicated world.  Visit my website at http://moneywiseadvisors.com to learn more about me and the services I provide to help clients take control of their money.

    My goal is to help you take control of your money, reduce stress, and start THRIVING.  Enjoy the good life, knowing you have reduced your financial risk, and have taken well-planned steps to ensure a thriving future. Get motivation from my posts on Facebook. Are you ready for a complimentary 30 minute consultation? Call 916.217.1967 or email me to set a time to discuss your action plan.


    Simple Steps to Save Successfully During America Saves Week 2016

    March 19, 2016

    Simple Steps to Save Successfully During America Saves Week 2016
    By Tammy Greynolds, America Saves Communications Coordinator

    America Saves Week (February 22 – 27, 2016) is an annual opportunity for individuals to assess their savings and take financial action. The theme for this year’s America Saves Week is simple: Save Automatically.

    Try these five simple steps during America Saves Week to help yourself save automatically – and successfully:

    1. Assess Your Savings.
    Like your health, you should assess your savings annually to make sure your savings priorities are on the right track. Complete this simple 12-question assessment to find out your current standing and help you plan for the future.

    2. Evaluate your Savings Preparedness.
    Check off your savings accomplishments on the Saver Checklist to further evaluate where your savings habits need strengthening for your future goals.

    3. Take the America Saves Pledge.
    Those with a savings plan are two times as likely to save for emergencies and retirement than those without one. Join more than 450,000 American Savers who have already committed to save. When you take the pledge, you can choose to receive text message tips and reminders to help you save towards your goals.

    4. Share Your Savings Goal.
    Take part in the 2016 #imsavingfor Photo Contest. Share a selfie that shows what you’re saving for on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and enter the contest at http://americasavesweek.org/imsavingfor for a chance to win $500. Savings never looked so good.

    5. Make Your Savings Social.
    Are you on Twitter or Facebook? Join America Saves in encouraging your friends, family, and colleagues to save this week. Better yet, join one of the many Twitter chats that America Saves will be a part of this week to get real-time savings tips and advice.

    America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.


    Start Your Emergency Fund

    November 8, 2015


    So, what happens when you find yourself in a money crisis? The car breaks down, or the dog has to go to the vet, or you forgot your boss’s birthday. First response – stress. How are you going to pay for it? I know the battery grim reaper has been knocking at my door with slow car starts, so it really did not have to be an emergency. When I’m in a spot where I don’t have the money, I’ll ignore the problem. Often, the problem only worsens. The battery dies on the way to work and I miss a few hours’ pay to get it fixed. Now my paycheck is smaller. Bad news seems to attract more bad luck.

    What would happen if you had an emergency cash fund? Start setting one up now until you have $500 to $1,000 set aside in a mattress savings account. Many credit unions or internet banks will open an account with as little as one dollar or maybe $25 at others. Check your home and car insurance deductibles to make sure your emergency fund could cover a car accident or house fire. This ensures that you have enough set aside for most of the money surprises that could throw you off track. Again.

    Put money aside for emergencies

    Now is the time to use all those money saving tricks you’ve seen to actually save money and put it in the bank right away. Coupons at the grocery store, eat breakfast at home, and walking to the library instead of driving to the book store. Every time you save, or find, extra money stash it in the emergency savings. You’ll feel stronger and more resilient as it grows.

    Now you are in control. You have more flexibility. You can avoid credit card debt. There are more choices when you have money saved. Use the emergency funds ONLY for real emergencies, not great sales or vacations. As soon as you deplete the account for an emergency, start building it back up.

    A fully funded emergency cash fund will change your outlook on money. Don’t live in fear of it, you need it to live every day. Start controlling your money and your circumstances will change for the positive. If you don’t have an emergency cash fund, find some money today and open that account. You are getting stronger.


    8 Steps For Holiday Money Smiles

    October 22, 2015


    Every year we plan to enjoy the holidays with less frantic shopping, more memorable time spent with family and friends, and staying on budget. Once we hit the day after Thanksgiving, all plans are off. How can this year be different?


    Plans are great, and written plans are the ones that are more likely to succeed. Here are some suggestions to consider. Start writing your plan now:

    Write out a budget of what you plan to spend, including decorations (avg $40) and food (avg $85).
    If the money isn’t already set aside, there’s still time. The average planned holiday amount is $689. O.K., so you started a bit late this year. Set aside $75 a week for the next 6 weeks, you’ll have $450 by Black Friday.
    Use cash (not debit cards). You’ll spend an average of $180 more if you use plastic. Hide credit cards until 2013.
    Don’t fall for the impulse purchases – keep a printed list or put a list on your smart phone and stick with it.
    Stores offer credit cards with discounts because they sell more to you – don’t do it!

    Focus on happiness – discuss your plans with friends and family. Have a potluck or cookie party and recipe exchange. Encourage smaller exchanges for our kids who already have too many toys.

    Be creative – yeah crafts, cooking, baking are always appreciated. Creativity extends to funding gifts, too. Use reward points, re-gift unused gift cards, or use them to shop for gifts.

    After-holiday sales are great if you need it and include it in your spending plan. Return gifts promptly for refunds, use money and gift cards to make purchases. Still keep those credit cards out of reach.

    Remember, right down your spending plan right now. Keep it handy and get through the season smoothly and with happy recollections of 2016.


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