Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Make Saving Fun

fun saving
Via jokeroo
When you think about saving for retirement what comes to mind?  Fear?  Dread?  Annoyance?  Hesitation?  All mostly negative feelings, right?  Well it doesn't have to be that way.  What if you actually enjoyed saving?  Impossible you say?  Here are some ideas about how you can make saving fun.

Kids get rewarded when they do well.  Adults should too.  Set a savings goal and once you reach it, reward yourself.  Say it's $400, when you have that amount put aside somewhere where you don't touch it, go out and buy yourself something pretty.  Splurge when you reach your goal, then set another goal.

There are so many ways you can do this.  Write a blog about your saving journey.  Take pictures.  Talk to a camera.  Write in a journal.  Not only will the documentation process keep you accountable, it'll be enjoyable.  Dust off that camcorder and make a documentary of your family's journey to financial stability.  Tape yourself shopping and making better choices.  Tape your kids saving their money. Hey, tape your kids throwing a tantrum because you won't buy them something.  Tape the ups and the downs, edit them together and you have a movie.  Use your imagination.  There are lots of ways you can create a larger project out of your saving experience.

Involve Others
Start a saving group with friends.  A larger example of how this can work is 4N1FUND, a fund that uses the power of the group to leverage investors' money.  How can you do this in a smaller way?  4N1FUND is for the long term savings goal, how can you involve others in your short term saving?  Maybe you get a group of like minded folks who have monthly meetings to discuss their financial issues and ways to overcome them.  Life is easier and less stressful when we connect with people.  Maybe you get a group to invest together.  Or, just discuss your savings goals with friends and family in order to stay on track.  Talking about it helps make it real as opposed to just a nice thought.

You can find a way to celebrate everything, throw a Savings Party.  Since you'll be cutting back on your nights out, have a monthly get together where guests bring something and you have fun for cheap.  Call it a Savings Party and it's sure to be a hit.  Buy discount wine, discount snacks and celebrate the fact that you're not wasting money but still finding a way to party.

I'd love to hear how you incorporate any of these ideas into your life.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Don't Touch My Nest Egg

I'm sure you've heard the term before but how many of us really have them?  Most people are worried about having enough money for their current expenses and can't imagine having enough money to save.  But it's important to have some sort of emergency fund, not only will it alleviate stress but it may also come in handy.

I'm working on creating a nest egg for myself.  It's not easy for a freelancer to plan ahead but I know it's important so I make it a priority.  Three reasons you should consider creating a nest egg of your own:

1. Alleviate Stress.
According to several studies the number one source of stress is finances.  So why not work to get rid of some of the worry by stacking money.  Knowing that you have money set aside that you don't touch will put your mind at ease.  Maybe you just started a new job that you think is great.  But what if it's not?  An emergency fund will keep you from feeling stuck there.  Or maybe you earn plenty of money and you think you don't need to save.  But what if you're wrong?  A nest egg will help make the 'what if's' in life a little easier to handle.

2. Emergencies Happen.
Life is unpredictable.  It's beautiful that way.  I love not knowing what's going to happen next because it opens up so many possibilities.   But with those possibilities come risks.  Since we can't predict the future, the best we can do is be prepared for it.  Maybe it's a leak in your house or a emergency medical bill.  It's good to have money set aside in case something goes drastically wrong.  Most likely, it won't but you never know.  And I'm big on not worrying about the future.  However, preparing for the future doesn't have to mean worry.

3. It's Doable.
Saving is not as hard as you might think.  Some of us can afford to save more than others.  But almost everyone can afford to save something.  The key is in your monthly budget.  Make a budget that outlines expenses, retirement savings and savings for your nest egg.  Start with a small amount, an amount you may even think isn't worth it.  This way, saving becomes a habit.  And as your income increases or as you become accustomed to saving as part of your lifestyle, you can increase your allotment as you see fit.

Just remember one thing, there's no need to stress.  Just take small steps and let the universe do the rest.


Friday, February 24, 2012

5 Ways To Turn Money Stress Into Money

Via divorce360

1. Mental Transmutation
Okay, I'm not some new age freak but I thought that might get your attention.  Mental what??  I study ancient philosophies -- Eastern, Egyptian, Indigenous.  That's just my thing.  And there's a concept which involves changing your mind state and I believe it works.  And if any of you are familiar with  The Secret you'll know what I'm talking.  While I'm not a fan of The Secret myself I am a fan of the ancient wisdom that it pulls from.

Mental Transmutation, refers to the art of changing and transforming one's own mental states and conditions, as well as influencing those of others.  Not only can it relax you but by concentrating on money and abundance (not lack) you can draw money into your life.  I know this sounds unbelievable but...well it can't hurt to give it a try can it?

Examples in my life: I'm a freelancer.  It's easy to let myself worry about the next gig.  Instead of worrying I work on mentally releasing that stress and turning it into faith and certainty that I will make a good living doing what I love.  I repeat this in my head: I make a good living doing what I love.  (I used to say I will but have since changed it to the present).  I repeat this over and over and then I let the Universe handle the rest.  So far so good. 

2. Hobbies
Hobbies relax us, keep us present and give us something to focus on other than our own everyday struggle.  So take the stressful energy and apply it to something constructive.  These days, with social  entrepreneurship and the internet as an international market, many people are turning their hobbies into cold hard cash.

Examples in my own life: I have a good friend who makes a great living selling lingerie online from her apartment.  She loves to shop and loves clothes.  She found a good deal on wholesale lingerie and she's been able to set up a her own business.  She started on eBay and is always able to make what she needs and most importantly, she doesn't stress about money.  She turns that stress into figuring out how to drive traffic to her site, finding the best deals on sexy nurse outfits, and providing good customer service.  One day she may decide to open up a boutique but for now her shopping hobby  has turned into dollar bills.

3. Socializing
Socializing and being with friends is a good way to relax and get your troubles off of your mind.  Also, most opportunities for jobs and money will come from your peers.  So go out and talk to people.  Tell them your situation, ask for help.  Most likely, someone will have a solution for you.  Someone may offer you a job, refer you to a good financial adviser, or simply share their story about how they managed their own money problems.  If you take the stressful energy and share it with others, not only will your problems wane but you will be on the radar of someone who may be able to help.

Examples in my own life: Almost all of my opportunities have come from peers.  I like to talk and, unlike a lot of people, I like to talk about myself.  Luckily, I'm also a very good listener.  I share myself with friends and even sometimes people I just meet.  I talk honestly about my fears, my hopes and my plans.  I'm constantly having friends send me job posts, info about people I should meet, articles I should read etc.  The more people know about you, the more you will come to mind when opportunities pop up.

4.Get Busy
Stress tends to make us anxious.  When I'm stressed I can't sit still.  You can always tell when I'm stressed out because our apartment is spotless.  It's important to find an outlet for anxious energy.  I suggest turning that energy into work.  Information is everywhere, in fact these are  the days of the information revolution, so you get out there and collect it.  Take a class.  Study on the net. Volunteer somewhere.  Just don't waste that energy pulling your hair out, instead use it for solving your problem. 

Examples in my life: I once took a free seminar that taught proposed to teach artists how to be wealthy.  It's rare that young artists make any real money from their work so everyone has to figure out a hustle.  And most of us spend too much time stressing, rather than using that energy to come up with something clever.  The seminar I went to offered some great tips on profitable hustles (I'll expand on these in future blogs).  One of the hustles the speaker suggested was buying and selling stock options, something you can do without a financial background.  He actually gave a crash course to a bunch of artists (musicians, painters, sculptors, actors, writers etc.) on how they could leverage their money on the stock market, giving them time for their art and lots of money for their survival.  I thought it was genius. 

5. Get Hip
What are people doing for money these days.  There are no get rich quick schemes but the way people make money changes with technology and the times.  You need to get out there and find out what there is.  Design an amazing app for the iPhone with one idea that may be lurking in the back of your mind.  Make a great youtube video with that camcorder sitting in your drawer.  Write letters to wealthy people who might like your story and be able to help you.  Research investment options.  Talk to financial wizards on blog forums.  Just find out what's out there.

Examples in my life: For the first time in a while I have a decent income doing what I love.  Trouble is, as a freelancer I don't have any retirement plans automatically set up.  So I have been spending some time worrying about what to do.  I opened a Roth IRA a little while back but have yet to really make any contributions.  And just as I got in a place to make monthly payments I found out about 4N1FUND.  It's the latest thing in retirement planning.  By leveraging my individual money with money from other individuals (think Groupon) it has more buying power which increases my  retirement income when I'm ready to stop working.  As times and technology change, so does financial planning.  That's why it's important to stay in the know.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

5 Products You Should Always Buy Discount

I love discount stores.  We all have our favorites and they vary depending on where you are in the country.  As a native New Yorker, I used to love the 99cent store.  The everything store where the goods are cheap.  Here in my little So-Cal city I don't see as many quality 99cent stores but there are other discount stores that are just as good and some that are even better.  Here are the top 5 items you should always purchase at a discount store:

1. Detergent
Of course the generic brands are cheaper here but even the leading brands are offered at big discounts.

2. Paper Products
Toilet paper, paper towels, wrapping paper, loose leaf paper, paper plates, paper napkins... whatever kind of paper it is it's always cheaper at a discount store.

3. Some cosmetics
The other day I found a ginormous bottle of Nivea lotion for $10 at my local discount store when a much smaller size would be $8 at a pharmacy.  But, I haven't seen that deal again.  The unfortunate thing about discount stores is that they don't have a consistent inventory so I usually go to the discount store first, and if it's not there then I visit the pricier stores.
4. Greeting Cards
Discount stores have an array of greeting cards at extreme discounts.  Your local pharmacy will charge $4 - $5 for a birthday card to mom.  Discount stores always have them for half the price.  And the quality is just as good.

5. Cleaning Products
Brooms, mops, sponges, scrub brushes, dustpans, bleach, cleanser -- these are items that always need replacing and there's no reason to spend top dollar on them.  I always get my mops and brooms from discount stores.  They are cheap and they hold up well.  Who needs a high end expensive broom?

Happy Shopping!!