Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
It’s almost time for a brand new month, can you believe it? You have three days to prep for the March Madness Month. Exercise your planning skills, and let’s get started. Here’s your assignment for MARCH MADNESS:
- On March 31st, what do you want to realistically weigh? (Healthy weight loss 1-2 lbs/week max)
- How many times a week in March will you exercise (3-4 average), pending, of course, your doctor’s approval? WRITE IT DOWN ON YOUR CALENDAR just like any other important appointment, then stick to it. Keep your gym bag in your car, set up an area in your home, but DO IT.
- When was the last time you had an overall physical? Pap test? Mammogram? Dental checkup? Colonoscopy? Eye exam? Schedule one or more in March. Call today.
- There are four full weeks in March. Think of four people that you’d like to reach out to, touch their lives somehow. Family, friends, colleagues – make it a point to make them feel extra-special. Maybe it’s leaving a note under your sweetie’s pillow, or tucking a card in your kid’s lunchbox. Maybe it’s a breakfast meeting with a friend, or a walk in the park. It doesn’t have to cost anything. But the return on investment is priceless.
- Create or update a budget for the month, and stick to it!
- How much can you save this month? Go MAD and see how little you can spend in March.
- Use cash only whenever possible in March. Keep your credit cards and debits cards to a bare minimum – this will cause you to be more intentional in any purchase when you’re using cash.
- Take time each day in March to spend time in devotions/prayer/meditation.
- Take a walk in nature and experience the beauty around you.
- Create a gratitude/blessings journal for March. Can be just a cheap notebook. Each day in March write down that day’s things for which you are grateful or blessed.
- What is something you’ve been really interested in exploring to add educational/career value to your life? Is there a course you’d like to take? Get all the info you can in March, including financial needs for the course, and sign up.
- Read a book in March – any book. Divide up the pages and read a few each day. Or get a book on CD from your local library (usually free) and listen to it on your commute. Did you know most people spend between 1,200-2,400 a year in their car? That’s the equivalent to 1-2 University semesters. Turn your wheels into a private classroom!
- We are all gifted. Explore your gifts and use them in March at least several times. It may be a pottery class, or simply buying some inexpensive paints/pencils and drawing. Maybe baking or cooking is your creative outlet. Singing? Gardening? Writing? Dancing? Explore the endless options. Be a child and grab some crayons and a coloring book and play – and color OUTSIDE THE LINES!
Remember to keep your goals S.M.A.R.T.
S - Specific (I will lose 8 pounds in March)
M - Measurable (I will lose approximately 2 pounds a week)
A - Attainable (2 pounds a week is a healthy, attainable goal)
R - Relevant (I will feel healthier and be in better shape)
T - Time-bound (By March 31st I will weight _________)
If you have other categories besides what I’ve listed above, go for it! Have fun - enjoy your life!!!!
Get ready… get set…. GO!!!!!!!!!!!
Thursday, February 23, 2012
I have to admit, financial prowess has never been the number one talent on my resume of life. I'm the type of woman whose heart goes all aflutter and chills run up my spine at the thrill of hearing someone whisper those three little words in my ear: “It’s on sale!” I’ve learned (and continue to learn) over the years that on sale doesn’t mean free. One major department store has a wonderful marketing tool – at the bottom of the shopping receipt it shows how much money you have saved. It’s designed to make you feel like the most proud and prudent purchasing agent of the day -- “Oh look, I saved $30!” Cool, but was the $50 you spent to save the $30 in your budget to begin with? Honey that just don’t make cents!
I’ve been investing in (yes, pun intended) research and study on finances - reading, talking with financially savvy friends, and learning all I can about spending plans and matters of the pocketbook. In fact, I just got a Coach bag yesterday at a consignment shop that originally sold for $350 and I got it for $30. Ah, got to love those field trips about pocketbook matters! But, that being said, I need to make certain that (a) I have that $30 in my budget to spend, and (b) that I have a cash flow that I can put in that wickedly wonderful purse. Did I mention I got it for $30?!?!?!? I’m still giddy.
The bottom line is - we need to step back, get a rock solid grip on our money, and put a plan into action to do everything we can to be sassy and SOLVENT wild women! Savings are sexy! These are some hard times for many of us, but even if you can get a mason jar and put your change in it at the end of the day, that’ s a start. My Mom always said if you can even put $5 a week away, that’s $5 more than you had last week and at the end of the year, you’ve got $260 more than you did at the beginning of the year! Every little bit adds up.
Today begin to exercise your financial muscles and acumen – below is a very good article from the financial website The Motley Fool. It’s quite an eye-opener, and I hope it will catch your interest on all levels. You can also read it at their website by clicking HERE.
And always, always invest in yourself and spend your most precious commodity -- time -- with those you love. That’s priceless!
P.S. Did I mention my fabulous new purse? Just sayin'...
Step 1: Change Your Life With One Calculation
If there were an eighth wonder of the world, we'd nominate the equation for compound interest: Your money x (1 + i)^n. (If you're not a math geek, don’t worry; we're going to decipher that for you.)
Albert Einstein (or maybe it was Yogi Berra) called this deceptively simple formula the "greatest mathematical discovery of all time." We call it your ticket to financial independence.
That's right, just three straightforward inputs can change your life: the amount of money you invest; the rate of return you get; and how much time you have to let your money grow.
Hate math but like money? Read on.
Since words cannot adequately describe the magical nature of compound interest, let's try a few visuals.
Here's how a single $1,200 investment grows over time in four savings scenarios.
How a single $1,200 investment grows
*Based on the stock market's historical rate of return.
As you can see, simply socking away one lump sum and leaving it put could turn $1,200 into nearly $40,000 over 40 years. Not only have you earned interest, but you've earned interest on your interest. And all you had to do was invest your first paycheck.
That said, let’s be honest: $37,691 ain’t what it used to be. So let’s make one small revision and invest $1,200 every year. Behold compound interest in a mildly caffeinated state.
A more compelling table than the previous one
Now we're at half a million. Not bad, right? Still, we think you can top it. In fact, it’s not a stretch to get near that magical $1 million milestone. Just save $2,500 a year (a mere $208 a month), and at 9% you’ve got a million dollars in 40 years. Or stick with the $1,200 annual contribution but improve your investing skills (which the rest of this series will show you how to do). If you are able to best the stock market’s average annual returns by a mere 3 percentage points, the $1 million prize is yours.
If we could, we would cue a soaring chorus of angels opening the doors to usher you into the Valhalla of investing … but we misplaced that file somewhere on our hard drive.
And the best part about compound interest is that it works the same for everyone, whether you have $20 to invest or $200,000. Go ahead, tinker with this compounding calculator to see what we mean. If you don't believe you can become a millionaire with just the resources you have right now, keep reading.
The amazing tale of the Mississippi washer woman
Oseola McCarty was born in Mississippi in 1908. For nearly 75 years, she lived in the same simple house, washing other people's clothes for a living and putting whatever money she could into savings accounts at local banks.
In the summer of 1995, Oseola made local and then national headlines when she donated $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi to establish a scholarship fund. "I just figured the money would do [scholarship recipients] a lot more good than it would me," she said. It soon came out that this washer woman had managed to amass nearly one quarter of a million dollars over her lifetime.
Time -- a key part of the compounding equation -- helped turn her meager early investments into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
We like this ending better
As remarkable as the Oseola McCarty story is, the ending could have been a blockbuster. After she died in 1999, one of her bankers wrote to us saying: "Time was able to turn even the modest returns of her early investments into hundreds of thousands of dollars. If we had been able to introduce her to equities earlier, she would have left millions instead of thousands."
Remember, the amount you save and your time horizon -- how long you have until you need the money you've invested -- are only two-thirds of the compounding equation. Oseola excelled in both. But she did pay a price for ignoring the rate of return on her investments.
Typically, the more risk you are willing to take on (by, say, investing in stocks rather than bonds), the higher your potential return. But risk is a four-letter word to a lot of folks: They're happy to settle for lesser returns to avoid it.
Bad idea. Stuffing all your savings into the Serta -- or sticking only with safer investments like Treasury bills or bonds -- is even more disastrous. It's not simply that they return less. It's that they barely keep up with the rate of inflation, and that means your retirement dollar is not going to go as far as you think. We Fools believe the best place for your long-term (key word … as you'll discover in Step 4) savings is the stock market.
Your golden ticket to financial independence
There you have it: Financial independence is just three variables away. So start saving now (as much as you can), and invest it well. Because the sooner you get the wonder of compounding working for you, the sooner you'll reach your financial dreams. And that's exactly what this series will help you do.
Action: Who wants to be a millionaire? That's what we thought. Here's the magic code you need: 10,000, 8, 400, 35, 0, 0, 0. Plug in those numbers -- in that exact order -- here.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
You see this picture? Well, that was pretty much my morning, except my shoes do match. I’m sure most of you can laugh and identify yourself as well.
Today I’d like you to exercise your backup planning muscles. One of the few things that helped get out the door a little less late in my daybreak daze was the fact that I pick out my clothes the night before and hang them up so I can almost jump into them in the morning. From the inside out, including jewelry and shoes, it’s right there when I wake up. No scrambling around, searching for the missing shoe, the lost earring, the un-hole-y stocking. This has saved my comatose booty on more than a few occasions, let me tell you!
Another thing I try to do is to put everything I’m going to take with me near either my bedroom door or the back door. No matter how hard I try, I seem to be the perpetual bag lady, lugging multiple bundles of stuff out the door into the car in my bleary-eyed stupor. Have I mentioned I am NOT a morning person, by the way? Oh, it’s on my bucket list, but ain’t happening yet, and I don’t foresee it as a short-term goal… nope, nope, nope this is a long-haul habit to achieve. But I digress…
I have my backpack with my schoolwork, my lunch bag, my gym bag and my work bag all lined up, and I pray I don’t fall over them as I leave. Sometimes I add my laptop just for the multi-tasking purpose of weight training since I'm not carrying enough, you know? Then I can always say I worked out in the morning! Mind you, this is a work in progress so I don’t achieve these amazing feats on a daily basis – each day is a new adventure in planning. Oh, and this doesn't take into account the various trips back upstairs to obtain the forgotten glasses, teacup, cell phone... Let's also not forget to mention the added gymnastics fun when I dash out the door and one of the bags catches onto the door handle -- yes, just call me the human rubber band as I bungee myself off the porch into the flower bed. Would that be considered taking time to smell the flowers???? My neighbors think of me as their morning comic relief program as they watch me while sipping their coffee!
So that’s your assignment, wild women – tonight get it all ready for tomorrow. You can do it! Now… if I could only stop driving off with my teacup still on the roof of my car…
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