Archives for March 2011

Action Steps for Wealth Management System

Keyword term – wealth management system – for families

You can help your family achieve long term wealth – it’s not impossible.  Ok, so I may not be talking Oprah style riches here, but the fact of the matter is that just about anyone can achieve a sound financial base – and from that build up to wealth – and by that I mean you can be secure financially – knowing that you have low or minimal debt, your house is yours, you have retirements savings, and that you have other funds you can use – for or emergencies.   That, really, is the kind of money most families aspire to.

So is there some secret wealth management system out there?  Nope – becoming wealthy requires a solid plan and follow through.  It also helps to have a goal, be organized and motivated.   It’s those who don’t have plan or a realistic goal (just what does wealth mean to you?) who are going to fall behind.

Work these action steps to create your own personal wealth management system:.

1.Set a Goal. It doesn’t matter how organized or motivated you are, if you don’t know what you want you’ll never achieve wealth. Just wanting to be wealthy is not enough – you need to have a specific number – and this number should be guided by what you need to say pay off your house, put your kids through college, pay off debt, live each year, save for retirement and go on vacation.  You might find that you need far less than you thought – or way more.  But get to a number.  By the way – I like a million. Today a million isn’t what it once was, but it’s still pretty good.  And if you’re combined household income is $50,000 or more, in about 20 years, you will have generated a million bucks or more income – so getting to a million actually shouldn’t be too hard.  For must of us, a million would pay off the house, save for retirement, handle college…etc.  Besides, everyone says the first mil is the hardest 🙂

2. Skip the lotto or get rich – Focus on your job – and upgrading or getting new skills so you keep getting better ones or raises.  If you want to go it alone, start with a business on the side – try freelancing, consulting, or an opportunity in a small, controlled way that won’t cost you a lot of money.

3. Invest – You build real wealth by having money that works while you sleep – that is money in the bank, investments or even a business that is making money (gaining interest, making sales) while you’re not working.  Start saving money so it can earn interest over the long haul.

4. Create a Plan  – Once you have a number in mind, you need to work on a plan – a plan that will help you manage your expenses and your income  – this is more commonly known as a budget, and it really is the cornerstone of any wealth management system.  You must live below your means and put that extra money to work for you if you want to build wealth.

5. Stay Motivated – Building wealth is really a marathon not a sprint for most families – and that’s ok – it’s much like raising kids or keeping a marriage going.  You must find time to work your wealth management system while you’re living your life  – it must be integrated into the fabric of being a family.

If you need more tips, strategies or tools on how to build your family’s budget, then check out the RichMama’s Guide to Building a Budget…

Going to Disney

The RichMama is going, for her first time, in her whole entire life, to Disney – woo hoo…I am super excited but also in near panic – because I just KNOW it’s going to cost me…and so that’s where you guys come in – share your favorite, most effective, most bizarre strategy for saving money at Disney in the comments below.

What’s in it for you – sharing the saving love, of course, and as a thank you, I will randomly select the best/favorite/most useful tip and gift a genuine Disney Souvenir…just like being there, but not…so share away – tell us how to save big at Disney!

Step-by-Step Ways to Plan a HouseholdBudget

Following a household budget is one of the best ways for you to figure out where you stand financially and plan for future expenses.  A budget is a plan that helps you live within your means, pay off debt and afford – for real, things like a new car, a vacation or an education.

Putting a household budget into place doesn’t have to be complicated – and once you do have it set up, you can easily make spending decisions – because you will know whether or not you can really afford something – or if you’ll need to wait.

Here’s how to plan your budget, step-by-step:

1.Get Your Goal – Before you begin, decide where you want to go.  What are your financial goals;

  • Get out of debt?
  • Go on vacation
  • Up your retirement savings
  • Buy a house
  • Pay for your childrens’ education.

Write down your family’s financial goals and post them where everyone can see them – you can even cut out pictures and create a “vision board” of your future, so that everyone can visualize achieving them – and find the strength to say no to buying things that aren’t in alignment with your ultimate plan.

2. How Much Do You Earn – Figure out how much money you have – after taxes and all other deductions – you have coming into your household.

  • Count all the income from each family who contributes to the budget
  • Interest from money market or savings accounts
  • Investments
  • Gifts or inheritances
  • Sporadic income

3.Add up Your Expense.  It’s time to figure out the damage – write down all your family’s expenses.  Look through a month’s worth of bills and see how much money is going out.

  • List every bill your family has regardless of how often it’s paid.
  • Group your expenses together like food and eating out
  • Don’t forget the little stuff – snacks, vending machines, coffee – that you pay cash for

4. Include savings. Don’t forget to pay yourself.  If you wait to see what money is left over at the end of the month, you will find a way to spend it instead of saving it.  So in your budget, put an amount for savings  – and make sure the money gets there.  The best way is to have it automatically transferred to a separate account.

5. What’s Left Over. Add together all income sources and then add together all expenses. Subtract the expenses from the income, and this will tell you what financial shape your family is in – or how close to the edge you are.   The larger amount you have left over is money from the household budget that can be used to save for your new vacation, build wealth or buy a new house.  If you have debt, then as much money as possible should be going towards paying it off.

But what if your expenses are greater than your income – what can you do?  You have some decisions to make.  Most likely you’ve been funding your lifestyle with a little help from credit cards.   Are you suddenly, or not so suddenly, painfully aware of how much debt you have?

Well then, it’s time to make some changes:

  • Can you move to a smaller home – and a lower mortgage or rent payment?   Can you sell your house
  • Do you have too many cars?  Can you get away with just one (or two)
  • Are your cars too expensive?  Can you sell your fancy cars, or get rid of your leases and make do with solid second hand cars?
  • Are you eating out too much – and this includes takeout?  Eating out really adds up – and cooking – and planning your weekly menus so that you are tempted to eat out – can cut hundreds of dollars from your monthly household budget.
  • Skip the credit cards and pay cash.  Take out cash at the beginning and middle of the month and section it off into chunks for expenses you usually put on your credit cards – like groceries, gas and clothes.  Only spend cash – and when it’s spent, stop buying – even if this means your making the pantry surprise for dinner!
  • If a lot of your budget is spent servicing credit card debts, pick the one with the lowest balance and scrape every bit of extra money towards paying it off as fast as possible – then get rid of it!  And take the payment you were spending on that one and double on your next biggest balance…and so on and so forth, snowballing your way into bigger and bigger debt repayment.

Creating a sound household budget is really the key to starting to get a handle on out of control spending and credit card debt.  Even if you don’t have a lot of credit card debt, you most likely owe money on something – like you car or your house.  If you properly manage your budget, you can pay off any debt and use the extra money to save or spend more.

Properly planning a budget is not like a diet-  there is nothing that you can’t have – a budget just tells you when you can have it!

So tell us RichMamas – what’s your biggest budgeting pitfalls?  We want to hear from you!

Stress Management Tips for Parents

Being a parent can be very stressful.  There are situations that you never thought you’d encounter.  And while dealing with office politics, sucking up to your boss and getting your work done are all skills you need to get ahead in the corporate world, none of these are of any use when being a parent.  Dealing with small individuals with minds of their own can be very stressful.  It’s no wonder that parents have more stress than ever.  Here are some time to help you better handle the stress of being a parent.

  • Take Care of Yourself  – Moms especially feel like there is no time for themselves.  You may work, have bills to pay and dinners to make.  It seems as if the work is never done – and it isn’t and won’t be.  So give yourself permission to do something for yourself – this will help avoid burnout.   Your kids will notice when you’re well rested and relaxed.  Stressed moms lead to stressed kids.   Take some time for yourself – find a babysitter, a relative or a friend who can give you a break.  Go get a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop and sit there for at least an hour.  Read a book, sip some coffee, peoplewatch.  Don’t talk on the phone or check your email.  You will feel relaxed and rested and better able to handle the kids when you return to the real world.   Don’t let more than a few weeks go by without taking some time for yourself.
  • Get Some Fresh Air – if you have small kids, through them in the stroller and go to the park.  Stroll along. look at nature, let them play on the playground while you relax on the park bench – encourage them to play with other kids or each other, allowing you some time to chill out.
  • Dance the Stress Out – Have more silly time with your kids.  Physical activity is a great stress management technique and as a busy parent it can sometimes be difficult to hit the gym.  So get funny with your kids.  Put on some fun music (I like classic 80s) and rock out with the kids. Play air guitar and head bang.  You will all feel better in no time.
  • Get Your Circle – we all need friends – even parents.  Finding friendship, even companionship can help bust stress.  Find a support group of other parents you can talk to – even if it’s just on the playground or at the bus stop – no these other parents do not need to replace your BFF from kindergarten – but your shared experiences as parents will help you form enough of a bond to enjoy each other’s company for awhile.
  • You Are Not A Servant – Parenting small children can sometimes feel like you’re a servant – after all they really can’t do much on their own – except create messes.  As they get older, moms sometimes find it’s easier to do things for their kids than taking the time to help them do things on their own – like clean up toys, set the table, get dressed, etc.  This constant servitude will drive you out the door and to a motel for a nervous breakdown faster than you can say, “Don’t spill…”  So establish some house rules about what your kids are expected to do.  Even having your kids hang their coats and put their clothes away can help reduce some of your chores – and make you feel less stressed out.
  • Ditch Perfection for Just Perfect Enough – Trying to be perfect can be extremely stressful – so don’t try to do it.  Except that as a parent somethings just don’t have to be perfect – like the cleanliness rating on your house.  Your kids want to feel safe and loved.  They are blind to the crumbs, so save yourself so stress and let forget to clean up one night – and don’t get stressed about it.

Nope, no one told you that raising kids would be so stressful for parents.  Oftentimes parents stress about the little things – when really they should be focusing on the big picture – making sure their kids feel safe and loved.  So go forth RichMamas and take some time to destress.

Are you stressed about money?  Money is the number one stress for couples and families.  Learn how to banish financial stress with One Rich Mama – the complete system for Chief Financial Moms to learn how to better save, spend and manage their family’s money.

Apps Help Saves Money

Are you ready to be a money saving RichMama?  Well here are 5 different apps that will help you become a money saving expert – and justify that smartphone you bought.

Apps to Curb Your Spending and Save You Money

Apps to Save Money

Apps Help Save Money

If you use an Android or an iPhone there are many apps that will help your track bills and your spending.  Add to that an app or two that will help you find great deals, and all of a sudden your phone has the power to be a true wealth managements system.  Here’s a rundown of some key apps for you to take with you as you seek to tame your household budget.

Try these phone apps to help you achieve your financial goals:

  1. Finanicial apps. Quicken and BillMinder are two finance apps worth taking advantage of.
  • The Quicken app  lets you track and monitor your financial accounts no matter where you are.  You can see your goals, your financial activity and even where to find an ATM.
  • BillMinder helps you manage the due dates of your bills, as well as their payment status.  You can import the data and receive helpful reminders of when bills are due.  This app will help you avoid late fees and any dings to credit report if you forget to pay a bill – and with a mom’s busy life, we all know how easily that can happen.
  • Shopping apps – Don’t you want to be the one all your friends whisper about, “She saves money like crazy” – well guess what there is an app for that.  Grocery Gadget Shopping List and Coupon Sherpa are two apps that will help you save money on things that you had to buy anyway.
  • Grocery Gadget is a $4.99 app that allows you to share and upload your grocery list while including prices comparisons from your favorite local grocery stores and coupons on products you actually want to buy.  The RichMama thinks this could really help you save a ton of money on each trip – and remember  – put that saved money in your savings account – so you can actually realize all the savings.
  • Coupon Sherpa is free and offers in-store coupons and exclusive deals.  You have to search by store name of category and look up local stores.  But you can share any coupons found with friends via email.

One of the RichMama’s favorite ways to save money is by cooking instead of eating out or succumbing to takeout – yes it’s a commitment – you need to plan ahead, but really it’s can save you hundreds of dollars a month. So what apps help make this feeding a small army possible:

  • All Recipes App  – All Recipes is a free app that offers mobile access to thousands of different recipes offering user reviews, directions and photos. There’s even a  “spinner” feature which helps you build a recipe around main ingredient – perfect if there is a sale on pork roast at the store, prep time or other variables.

If you are like many moms, you spend a lot of time driving people around.  So what saves money on gas?

  • Gas Buddy – the $2.99 app shows you were the cheapest gas prices are all across the country.  And since pump prices can vary by as much as 20% within a region, finding the cheapest gas – especially if you’re driving past it anyway, can really translate into some serious savings for the mom-mobile.

Another place the RichMama likes to look at to saves money is communications.  Things like a regular phones and cells can really add up.

  • Text Free – Even moms love to text, so why not try the TextFree Unlimited app, which allows you to send and receive text messages for free as long as the application is running.  It’s perfect for light texters and only costs $5.99.   Just think of the savings
  • Skype – talk with grandma for free? Yup – you can video chat with the Skype app but also use it speak to cell phones.  In some cases, small fees are applied, but if you have to speak internationally you can really save big.  Or if you can ditch the landline entirely and Skype it.

Using your smart phone wisely can help you save money – you might even be able to pay for the cost of the phone!  But we’re really we’re betting that if you are strategic in just one area – like your grocery shopping, the savings would really add up.  And you can take that money – to the bank, or to the credit card companies, or the mortgage holder or whatevere.  Just please, please don’t spend it on another app!