“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” —Aristotle
Make this New Year a great year by living your life well every day. By incorporating these good habits into your life moment by moment, you will have a wonderful year to celebrate.
Slow down Take time in each moment to savor your precious life. Keep a diary or journal of your adventures. Pause at the beginning and end of each day to celebrate your joys and accomplishments.
Take care of yourself Eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep. Treat yourself to loving, nurturing self-care.
Acknowledge your family and friends Communicate with the people in your life. Tell them that you love and appreciate them. Note their positive qualities and the joy they bring to your life.
Take time throughout the day to renew yourself Take a walk, read a poem or a novel, listen to music- do the things that bring beauty into your life.
Clean up what needs cleaning up Make amends, fix what’s broken, clear away clutter, forgive what needs to be forgiven, and let go.
Commit to a project Set out on an adventure, no matter how small. Tackle an important problem, learn a valuable skill, improve an aspect of your life. Set achievable goals and work toward them on a daily basis.
Support something you believe in Give time to a cause, group, individual, or family who needs your help. Plan to do something every day to make the world a better place.
Remember that you always have options Look for ways to increase the number and quality of the choices available to you, knowing that sometimes your best choice is acceptance of what is.
Laugh, every single day Look for the humor in every situation. How important will this problem be in twenty years?
Always take time to dream Dreams are what will give your life its passion, its joy-and its direction. Take the time to develop your dreams so they will one day become your reality.
This year, resolve to have a more prosperous new year by creating good financial habits that will last a lifetime. Good financial habits are truly a gift to yourself that keeps on giving — and they are much more fun than vowing not to eat another piece of chocolate cake!
I Will Monitor My Spending
Pick three or four categories where trimming expenses can make a difference, and then cut 10% to 20% in these areas. For example, groceries, entertainment and clothing probably are a significant part of your budget. If trimming 20% from these expenses will save $150 a month, you’ll be $2,000 ahead by the end of the year.
I Will Save Money
Have 5% to 10% of your paycheck deposited directly to your savings account, or do it yourself each payday. When you redeem coupons at the grocery store, bank your savings. Saving is a habit –make it yours.
Whatever your dream — a new home, an education fund for the children, a secure retirement — setting goals can make it happen. Decide what is most important for your future, how much you need to accumulate to meet this goal, and then begin today to turn your dreams into reality.
I Will Invest Wisely
Many people unwisely fund long-term goals with short-term investments. Stocks and growth mutual funds have consistently beat saving accounts, CDs, and short-term bonds for long-term growth. The best place to put retirement funds is in your IRA, SEP, TSA, 401(k) or another tax-deferred investment vehicle.
I Will Learn About Finances
Get educated this year with financial books from the WIFE.org bookstore. Whether you are interested in learning how to invest, how to manage money with your sweetie, or how to get out of debt, these resources will help you to reach your goals
Glancing at holiday photos, you can’t believe you look so fat in your holiday outfit. The skirt that won’t button and the uncomfortably tight jeans may push you to a New Year’s resolution: This is the year you will join the health club.
For years I scorned paying money to work-out when work-ing kept me fit. In Holland, I rode my bike everywhere. Years later, hoisting hay bales on our farm was exercise and accomplished something as well. But when I developed arthritis in my knees, I swallowed my distaste for exercise that produced no product and visited the nearest health club.
In the parking lot a man in a red sports car waited for a space near the entrance. Though bulging with muscles, he was reluctant to walk ten extra yards to the door. Inside lithe young women in thong leotards taught over lycra leggings gamboled with young men with shoulders so wide they passed through doors sideways. Metal weights clinking together formed a counterpoint to the rock music in the background.
I almost fled, but my desire to walk without pain made me stay. I signed up, and the monthly membership fee deducted from my checking account was my biggest motivation to keep at it. I enjoyed swimming laps in the pool, but I never acclimated to lifting leg weights next to strange men sweating and grunting on the adjacent machines. Since moving to Vancouver, I have found a club with a family atmosphere, and going regularly is easier.
Think carefully before you make a financial commitment at the peak of your New Year’s reforming zeal. “The average attrition rate is 15%, but it’s higher for people who join in January,” says Carolynne Browne, owner of the Landover Athletic Club in Vancouver, Washington. Many clubs charge $40 to $50 a month and require a lengthy commitment. Membership is less at a YMCA or a municipal sports complex, but classes and courts are often extra.
Carolynne advises checking out the club’s policies on illness and absences. “Privately owned clubs can give personalized service,” she says. “We add free months to the term for retirees who go South for the winter and for people recovering from surgery. Many bigger clubs won’t do that.”
She offers additional guidelines for making a wise decision:
1. Beware of lifetime memberships. No facility can guarantee it will be around forever.
2. Research the club’s reputation. Make sure the staff are certified instructors and trainers and avoid clubs that change management every few months.
3. Proximity is paramount. If the facility is more than 15 minutes from your home, and not on your way home from work, you won’t use it.
4. Choose surroundings you like. An exercise buff who enjoys meeting like-minded people will want a different club than someone wanting to take her kids to the pool on weekends.
5. Determine whether the program of activities fits your schedule, and find out when childcare is available.
As with any money decision, research your options carefully. Make sure it is something you will use. My knees have improved, so, for me, the expense is worth it. Someday I may even learn to enjoy it.
The holidays aren’t cheap, especially if you love buying lots of gifts for your kiddos and extended family or if you plan on traveling. Additionally, if your goal is to start the New Year on more solid financial footing, making a few extra bucks in the last months of the year can help you pay off those pesky credit cards and maybe even stock away some funds in your savings account. No need to dive into the couch cushions looking for spare change. Here are five great ways to make a little extra money over the holidays:
1. Ask For More Overtime/Shifts
Most employers try to limit the amount of overtime their workers perform, but since so many people travel during the holidays, it’s easy for an employer to get stretched thin. It never hurts to let your boss know that you are looking for overtime opportunities. When things get hectic, your boss will look to you first. Likewise, let your co-workers know that you should be the first one to call if they need someone to cover a shift. Are you on salary? Time to ask for a raise!
2. Get a Temporary Part-Time Job
This time of year, retailers across the country need an influx of additional temp workers to shoulder the floods of shoppers who will descend upon their establishment. As long as you have a pulse, you can probably apply to a major retailer and get hired. However, consider other options aside from retail. Warehouses also desperately need temporary workers during the holidays and typically pay a higher hourly wage than retailers. Shipping companies are also worth looking into.
3. Get a Gig from Your Neighbors
There’s got to be someone in your neighborhood or extended family who either doesn’t want to or can’t shovel their driveway anymore. Put the word out on social media and neighborly groups, like Nextdoor, that you are available for gigs. Great options for this time of the season include:
Shoveling sidewalks and driveways
Pet and house sitting while neighbors are on vacation
Putting up and taking down Christmas and holiday lights
If you’ve got a talent, put it to work during the holiday season. Again, social media can help you get the word out. There are also lots of freelance websites, like Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, and more that can match you with those looking for your talents. There is a nearly endless supply of freelance services that you can provide, anything from data entry to blog writing and graphic design. Here are some excellent holiday-themed options:
Photographer for holiday parties
Party planner/coordinator for holiday parties
Personalized holiday card designer
Christmas letter writer
5. Sell Your Arts and Crafts
Are you Martha Stewart’s long-lost spirit twin? If you love making food, crafts, or other one-of-a-kind items, how about selling them during the holidays? Your family, neighbors, and friends are probably desperately looking for unique holiday gifts, and you can also reach the world through sites like Etsy. Here are just a few food/craft ideas:
Cookies shaped like dreidels or menorahs
Handmade Christmas ornaments
Hanukah or Christmas jewelry
Knitted ugly Christmas sweaters
At the end of the day, think about where your talents lie and how much effort you are willing to put into grabbing extra Christmas cash. Working overtime or snagging a temp job are probably your easiest bets, but performing gigs, freelancing, or making crafts can be a lot of fun and offer optimal flexibility.
If you really want to get on top of your finances in the new year, consider starting a Money Club!
WIFE.org by Candace Bahr And Ginita Wall, Cpa, .. - 1M ago
The holiday season is fast approaching. Just as it’s easy to overeat during the holidays, it’s easy to overspend, especially if you buy on credit. Research shows that people spend about 15 percent more on purchases paid with a credit card. (So easy when you can just swipe and forget about a purchase.)
To help you through the holiday rush and keep your spirits bright, here are seven tips to help you afford the holiday, and save taxes to boot – now there’s a real gift!
1. Make a gift-giving budget and stick to it
Here is a fact to help you keep things in perspective. The annual budget of the United Nations is $5.15 billion, which is only a third of last year’s Toys’R’Us revenue. Isn’t it time to get sane about holiday spending? Before you go shopping, make a budget. Write down the total amount you want to spend on gifts and then break it down by person. This can help you decide whether to get your mom that expensive pearl necklace or those less expensive pearl earrings (or maybe just write her a heartfelt card).
2. Decorate on the cheap
A trip through Costco during the holidays will show clearly that it’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars on neat holiday decorations. Instead of splurging on holiday knickknacks, use your ingenuity. Bundle pine boughs to capture the scent of the holidays, or buy wide velvet ribbon and tie bows on everything from doorknobs and banisters to candlesticks. Pinterest is an excellent resource for gorgeous, homemade crafts.
3. Give from the heart and hearth
Happy memories come from special times, not from spending a lot of money at holiday time. Bake bread, knit a scarf, or make a personalized scrapbook. A handmade gift or baked goods tells the recipient you invested time (not to mention love) in the gift – and that makes it priceless!
4. Gift wisely
You are spending your hard-earned cash, so be sure that the recipient is getting something they value. It doesn’t always work that way, you know — 42% of consumers still have at least one unused holiday gift from last year in the back of their closet, and 28% admitted to re-gifting at least one of their holiday gifts from last year. And speaking of closets…
5. Clean out your closets
Donate old clothes, sporting goods, books, and other household goods that you no longer use. You will welcome the New Year with new space in your life, and get a quick tax deduction to boot. It also just feels good to give to those in need. Document these donations by making a list of the items at the time you donate them, so you can compute the value of your donation.
6. Prepare for next year right after the holiday
Buy all of your holiday decorations, gift wrap, and cards for next year at this year’s post-holiday sales. You can easily find deals for 50% off or more on items that were full priced a week ago. And after paying off this year’s bills, put aside $50 to $100 a month for next year’s holiday presents. You’ll emerge from next year’s holiday rush debt-free. And while you are preparing for next year…
7. Do a rough calculation of your taxes for this year now
Use last year’s tax software to estimate this year’s taxes, or note your new numbers in the margin of last year’s tax return and use last year’s tax rates as a rough approximation. The IRS treats income taxes withheld from your paycheck as if they were paid in equal amounts throughout the year. So if your calculations show you’ll owe money, you can increase the withholding on your last paychecks of the year to make up the difference. (Here’s a great article on how to prepare for tax time.)
Above all, remember to enjoy the holidays. Don’t stress yourself, spend yourself into debt, or spread yourself too thin trying to create the perfect celebration. Memories make themselves when you cherish time with friends and family!
Finally, if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get on top of your credit card debt, save up for a down payment, or learn to invest in the stock market, consider starting a Money Club
WIFE.org by Candace Bahr And Ginita Wall, Cpa, .. - 1M ago
New Year’s resolutions have a well-deserved reputation for failure. Instead of making resolutions, why not consider a New Year’s Affirmation this year? By repeating a positive affirmation over and over, you internalize your goal, and train your subconscious mind to transmute those thoughts into actualities. If you believe it, you can achieve it – it’s as simple as that.
A few positive thoughts are not enough if they are sitting on top of a pile of negative behaviors. Here are five affirmations for the New Year to help you develop a successful money mind, and some positive actions as well.
I am pursuing my dream
Dreams are what will give your life its passion, its joy–and its direction. Whatever your vision–a new home, an education fund for the children, a secure retirement–setting goals can make it happen. Decide what is most important for your future, how much you need to accumulate to meet this goal, and then begin today to turn your dreams into reality.
I pay myself first To maximize your savings, put your finances on automatic pilot. Have 5% to 10% of your paycheck deposited directly to your savings account, or do it yourself each payday. When you redeem coupons at the grocery store, bank your savings. Saving is a habit–make it yours.
I allow myself to take risks Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb – that’s where the fruit is. Many people unwisely fund long-term goals with short-term investments. Stocks and growth mutual funds have consistently beat saving accounts, CDs, and short-term bonds for long-term growth.
I am improving my financial skills You learn by doing, so set out on an adventure, no matter how small. Tackle an important problem, learn a valuable skill, improve an aspect of your life. Whether you are interested in learning how to invest, how to manage money with your sweetie, or how to get out of debt, find resources to help you reach your goals.
I create value in the world.
Give time to a cause, group, individual, or family who needs your help. Plan to do something every day to make the world a better place. Pause at the beginning and end of each day to celebrate your joys and accomplishments.
This year, use positive affirmations to create good financial habits that will last a lifetime. And they are much more fun than vowing not to eat another piece of chocolate cake!
Divorce can be emotionally freeing for women, but it can also be financially devastating. Women, far more than men, face a stark plummet in their standard of living after divorce. That is why, if you are considering divorce, you must start planning right now for your post-divorce life. One of the most important questions you’ll need to answer is how much money will you need to survive and thrive.
Get Ready for the Transition
Not all women face a lower of standard of living as a result of divorce. However, in her book, The Divorce Revolution, author Lenore Weitzman found that an average woman faces a 73% loss in her standard of living after divorce, while the average ex-husband is likely to enjoy a 42% boost in his standard of living! This significant disparity can be explained by the fact that many men are still the breadwinners in their households and that women still overwhelmingly receive primary custody of children.
If these numbers make you nervous, that’s a good thing. We don’t mean to scare you away from divorce, but we do want you to be fully prepared for what comes next.
How Much Will You Need After Divorce?
You do not have to face a 73% loss in your standard of living, especially if you come into your divorce knowing how much you need to maintain your current standard of living. If you have time to plan for your divorce, start adding up all of your living costs. Ask yourself questions such as:
How much will I likely spend on groceries after my divorce?
How much will I spend on utilities?
How much are my current payments for things such as my car loan, car insurance, health insurance, retirement savings, etc?
How much do I need to have saved for unexpected expenses?
Do I plan on asking for shared or full custody of the children? How much will it cost to care for them?
Try to be as realistic as possible when recording your expenses. While certain bills, such as your grocery costs, may be a little lower without your husband in the picture, you may be surprised at how expensive your life will be even without him. This is especially true if you were relying on him for health insurance and retirement savings. These may be new costs that you have to add to your budget.
Use Your Budget as a Negotiating Stepping Stone
Use your research to create a realistic budget of the expenses you’ll face once you are on your own. Consider adding 10% on top as a cushion for little unknown expenses that always pop up. This is the amount you’ll have to earn after divorce on your own to support yourself. If your current income does not cover the amount, you’ll either have to find ways to lower your costs (perhaps by moving to a less expensive home), or you’ll have to try to negotiate a divorce settlement with your husband that can make up the difference.
If you aren’t sure how you will afford your post-divorce life, now is the time to speak with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. A CDFA can help you determine a more reasonable budget or help you figure out what to negotiate for in the divorce. An experienced divorce attorney can also be a big help!
Not sure where to start with your divorce planning? That’s what the Second Saturday Divorce Workshop is for. We bring together divorce experts, including divorce attorneys and financial consultants, to help you prepare for your divorce.
WIFE.org by Candace Bahr And Ginita Wall, Cpa, .. - 1M ago
When it comes to negotiation, women often get a bad rep as weak, insecure, and not confident. Most research on the topic of gender and negotiation deals with salary negotiation, where surveys do find that women are less likely to negotiate for a higher salary than their male counterparts.
Do women really face a crisis of confidence when they come to the negotiation table, and how does that affect divorce negotiations where a financial future may be up for grabs? What can women do to improve their negotiation skills so that they can drive a hard bargain and get what is fair in divorce?
What the Research Says About Women and Negotiation
A lot of scholars have researched how women and men negotiate for salary, and the results don’t look too good for women. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, writer Hannah Riley Bowles points to one survey of graduating MBA students that found that half of the men negotiated their job offers, while a measly one in eight women did the same. Additionally, a survey noted on Salary.com found that while 39% of men reported being apprehensive about negotiating for a higher salary, that percentage jumped to 55% of women. If women are so reticent to negotiate for a higher salary, what does that mean when things such as their homes, alimony and child custody are on the line during divorce negotiations?
Why Do Women Hesitate to Negotiate?
Are women inherently bad at negotiating because of their gender? Not so, claims Hannah Riley Bowles in her article for the HBR. She explains that “in repeated studies, the social cost of negotiating for higher pay has been found to be greater for women than it is for men.” In other words, women are more likely to be penalized by bosses and co-workers for negotiating too hard. What looks like strength and confidence in men can seem overbearing and aggressive in women.
What Can Women Do When Negotiating Their Divorce?
Negotiating during a divorce is not the same thing as negotiating for a salary. With more on the line and no bosses to impress, women may be more likely to step up to the plate and play ball. Additionally, at least some research suggests that women can be just as good negotiators as their male counterparts. A study released by the University of Florida surveyed MBA students and “discovered that women who had experience with successful negotiation were better negotiators than men.”
The study’s authors theorized that the gender negotiation disparity exists simply because men are more likely to have previously held high paying jobs than women, giving them more experience – and more comfort – negotiating.
If you don’t have a lot of experience negotiating (and even if your husband is a master negotiator), that doesn’t mean you’ll lose out on your divorce negotiations. Instead, you may want to consider hiring a divorce attorney who does have plenty of experience negotiating on behalf of clients. A divorce attorney can help you design your negotiation strategy, especially if you plan on attending divorce mediation. Even if the idea of negotiation makes you feel a little nervous, take strength in knowing that women can be just as good at negotiating as men!
One of the best ways to help conquer your pre-divorce jitters is to get informed by interacting with professionals in the divorce field. Consider signing up for the next Second Saturday Divorce Workshop in your area.
WIFE.org by Candace Bahr And Ginita Wall, Cpa, .. - 1M ago
When you think about your finances, what keeps you awake at night? For most women, it’s the fear they will outlive their money and become a “bag lady.” The transition from regular paychecks to full-blown retirement can be downright scary. With traditional pensions going the way of the Model T, and the Social Security platform growing rickety, most of us will need ways to generate a predictable, sustainable income that is guaranteed for life.
Enter Variable Annuities
Because so much has been written about the negatives of variable annuities, we may get a lot of flack for writing this: Annuities can be very useful in the right circumstances. There, we’ve said it.
Once maligned because of high costs and withdrawal penalties, some modern versions of variable annuities offer riders that can provide you with guaranteed income for life, just like pensions. That makes them very attractive to those seeking stability in a sea of stock market volatility. Even past Fed Chief Ben Bernanke disclosed that two of his biggest assets are annuities.
The Risks of Variable Annuities
Part of the reason that variable annuities have gotten a bad rap is because they have been indiscriminately foisted on the elderly by commission-hungry unscrupulous financial sharks. Because hefty surrender charges apply if you take the money out too soon, consider variable annuities only for long-term needs. If you cannot afford to keep a variable annuity for at least ten years, it’s probably best to consider another investment.
Benefits of Variable Annuities
Variable annuities are more costly than most mutual funds, but they offer value that mutual funds do not. In addition to income guarantees, they have death benefits, creditor protection, and reduced transaction costs. The wide variety of available features vary from company to company, so be sure you read the prospectus carefully to determine the features of the annuity you are considering and the attendant costs.
Should You Put Your Annuity into an IRA?
In addition to long-standing arguments against variable annuities because of their cost, surrender charges, and a 10% IRS penalty on withdrawals made prior to age 59 ½, some critics protest that using IRA funds to buy variable annuities is redundant because they both contain tax-deferral benefits. But since there is no charge for the tax-deferred feature of a variable annuity, why not put one in an IRA? As a matter of fact, the “downside protection” features are a great reason to do just that. We pay for insurance on our cars, our homes, and our health, so doesn’t it make sense to insure some of our retirement nest egg as well?
Of course, before you think of buying a variable annuity, make sure you sit down with a financial advisor to discuss whether an annuity is right for you. You’ll also want to do your homework so that you fully understand what an annuity is, how it works, and its limitations. Stay in the know by reading more in our Retirement Article Archive and stay motivated to meet your retirement goals by starting a Money Club in your area.
My husband and I are divorcing, and he says that unless I agree to split the property the way he wants, he’ll take me to court and the judge will order us to sell everything. Can he do that?
First, we’re sorry that your husband has resorted to divorce threats instead of working with you to negotiate a mutually agreeable divorce settlement. Sure, he can take you to court, but it is unlikely that the judge would order the sale of an asset unless there is a good economic reason and the sale is in the best interest of both parties.
For example, if you want to keep the house and there are sufficient other assets that could be awarded to your husband to make the settlement fair, it is unlikely the judge would order the house to be sold.
If your husband is willing to launch one divorce threat, he might have others in store for you. Make sure that you are ready! Here is a list of divorce threats, courtesy of Margorie Engel and Diana Gould from their book Divorce Decisions Workbook.
“Unless you play this my way, you’ll never get a dime.”
The threatener is used to being in charge and doesn’t want to give up his power. But coercion won’t work. Your martial property will be divided between the two of you regardless of whether your husband earned more than you. If you live in a community property state (Arizona, California, Louisiana, Texas, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin), then you have equal claim to all martial property. If you live in a different state, a judge is empowered to make the final division decision.
“I’ll go to jail before I’ll pay you a dime of support.”
If your spouse is employed, alimony and/or child support will be enforced through automated wage garnishment, and your check will come directly from his employer. If he has no employer and falls behind in support payments, you can contact the court to legally get him to pay. Ultimately, if your husband is found guilty of contempt of court, he may face jail time. However, most people pay voluntarily before going to jail. (Here’s more information on what to do if your husband won’t pay child support.)
“I’ll quit my job before I’ll pay you that kind of money.”
If your husband makes this threat, try to record it on your phone or get a witness. If you can show he quit his job to avoid paying alimony or child support obligations, a judge can order him to continue the payments.
“I will reconcile with you only if you put everything in my name.”
This is a threat made by someone who wants to keep you in their power. If you are going to reconcile, why do you need an agreement that is lopsided in favor of the party making such a demand? Think about what it would mean to your freedom and financial stability if your credit cards, bank account, car title, and home title were all in your spouse’s name? Do not let him take full financial control of your life! This is a bad deal no matter how badly you might want to reconcile.
Threats are very common during divorce. If your spouse insists that he won’t pay or that you won’t get anything from him, speak with an experienced divorce attorney who can look at your situation and help you determine what is real and what is not. You may also want to attend the next Second Saturday Divorce Workshop in your area. Threats only have power if you are uninformed and unprepared!
Finally, if your spouse ever threatens to physically harm you or your children, or if you ever feel unsafe, get out of the house immediately and contact your local law enforcement.
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