Savings

Shared Tips to Reduce Thanksgiving Stress & Cost

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Financial Tip of the Day

For all those cooking and planning Thanksgiving dinner, here are some tips to make it less stressful. In this article there are tips to save money on food and on organizing your Thanksgiving dinner: Five ways to save money & reduce your stress buying and cooking your Thanksgiving dinner

More on 401Ks & Our Future:

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Financial Tip of the Day

So last week’s episode of Adam Ruins Everything discussed 401K’s – how they came to be, the pros and cons of them and why they’re so challenging to use.  Additionally, while 401Ks are ideally not the best retirement savings vehicles, if we do have plans available through our employers it’s wise to take advantage of them - especially if they match. Plus, we need to save much more than originally predicted in our 401ks.

Sadly, the episode stated once again how about 50% of Americans ages 32-61 have NO retirement savings - and that these individuals will experience a significant drop in their standard of living if they retire with no savings. You can catch the episode on TruTV or here Adam Ruins the Future

I know that so many people need support with saving money for their dreams – like retirement –  which inspired me to create coaching to help you specifically save for your dreams. If you don’t want to let another year pass without saving enough and  you want to head into 2018 with a saving plan designed just for you, schedule a FREE Money Mastery Discovery Session with me. This is for you if you’re ready to take action in saving for your dreams. Contact me here .

My Very Bumpy Road to Getting Debt-Free

This past week, I did my first ever series on savings. It was a 3-part live stream that I did on Facebook. Amidst all my nervousness and confusion about how Facebook Live worked, I ended up feeling very exhilarated by the end of each show.  I felt a great sense of accomplishment in my efforts to reach women like myself and inspire them to save for their dreams. But doing the series also brought back memories of years ago when I was in financial distress.

Many, many years ago, I was overwhelmed with credit card debt. I owed a few thousand. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you owe it and have to pay it all back that’s when it becomes clear how much it really is. It ALWAYS feels like too much. Am I right? Especially when you’re not earning that much (which was the case at the time).

I vividly remember being able to pay only the minimum on my cards. At the time, I had so many cards that that was all I could manage. And because I had so many cards, trying to make multiple payments on time for all of them felt really challenging. I always did pay on time. But what I owed NEVER seemed to go down.

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Since then, I’ve made a couple of vital mind shifts which have helped me to remain free of credit card debt to this day. They have made all the difference for me since those days.

Back then, every retail store I shopped in or major credit card company offered me credit (I‘m always disturbed at how credit issuers do this with apparently no forethought for the card holder incurring lots of debt. But then again, maybe that’s the plan). For a while, I signed up for all those cards. I was giddy about having so many credit options. But I hadn’t taken the time to understand how to use credit to my advantage and avoid the choke-hold of debt.

One year, I spent around $1,300 on Christmas gifts for my family and friends with my Spiegel (remember them?) credit line. I wanted to “show” my loved ones how much I appreciated them. Imagine my surprise when some of my friends gave me gifts that didn’t cost nearly as much as what I'd spent. And never mind that the Spiegel items were all overpriced to begin with (but I bought them because I had credit there). And on top of all that, I now had lots of credit card debt to pay off.

All of these behaviors now seem like foreign concepts to me.

Today, I can count the number of credit cards I have on one hand. 

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I make sure to pay the balance in full each month. Before even charging, I make sure I have/will have the money available to cover the charge.

Needless to say, I no longer own any store credit cards. Nope. Not one. I realize that I don’t have any need for those. Plus, the interest rate is crazy!

And I certainly don’t charge $1,300 in gifts anymore. My family has come up with alternate ways to celebrate the holidays – ways that don’t require excessive spending for any of us. Anything I DO buy is purchased well in advance and paid off right away.

Looking back, I realize how far I’ve come. Sometimes I forget this because my daily habits have changed so much.  I’m now focused and on top of my finances. I forget the HUGE learning curves that I’ve had along the way to owning my own finances.

Remembering this helps me to better serve my clients based on where they’re at. But most of all, I hope that it shows what is truly possible for any of us.

About Yolanda Ransom

Yolanda Ransom is a certified Financial Coach who empowers her clients to confidently master new money management skills, resulting in improved finances and financial stability. She is the CEO of Yolanda Ransom Consulting and provides personal coaching and financial literacy training to individuals and groups. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and at her website yolandaransom.com.

Apps to Jump Start Your Savings

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Financial Tip of the Day

During the savings series I hosted last week, I became acutely aware of how challenging setting aside savings can be. I’ve been hearing about some apps that can help with this and located this piece: The Top 8 Automatic Savings Apps Of 2017. If you love apps, and need/want to begin/increase your savings, here are some to get you going. They range in price and feature, but if you want to start or ramp up your savings “automatically” these apps may be perfect for you.

Also, for more tips, check out my 3-part savings series. Click here to get free access: Special Presentation.

How to Save $400 For An Emergency Here & Now

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Despite reports of a strong economy right now, many people are still finding it very difficult to build up the savings they know they “should” be setting aside. Many really want to save but don’t see a way for themselves to do it.  

In Can Facilitating Emergency Savings Through the Workplace Improve Financial Security?, Prosperity Now cites the Federal Reserve data that 50% of Americans today state they would not be able to come up with $400 for an emergency (without having to borrowing or sell something). And this data included Americans from various economic backgrounds – not just lower income individuals.

As a potential solution, the article proposes employers offering a Sidecar IRA along with the 401K. The Sidecar IRA works like a ROTH, so employees could withdraw funds for emergencies without penalties. In this way, employees could build up a sort of short term savings reserve along with saving for retirement.

I can see how this is a worthwhile idea that could prove very valuable to employees. However, it’s not something in place now. And while it may be a hopeful option in the future, I always assert that self-reliance is the best way to go in achieving financial stability. We can - and should - actively work to take charge of our own savings in any way that we can.

To help do that, I’ve listed 7 ways that I used to build up a 6-month emergency fund and a healthy 401K. And the clients that I’ve worked with who are successful savers have also implemented these 7 tips in some combination or other.

Experiment to find out what works best for you. And then stick with it.

7 Ways to Save for Here & Now

1.      Commit to your own financial empowerment

Change is NOT easy, and in order to develop a habit of saving you need to have a purpose. That purpose will help you persist when you falter or “backslide.” Commit to taking the action required to achieve financial independence and power.  

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2.      Tally up your money

To be a successful saver, you need to first figure out how much you’re actually earning and spending to see where you can either a) cut expenses or b) increase your income or c) do both.

3.      Decide what you’re saving for

Are you saving for an emergency fund, a wedding, Christmas gifts, etc? Most of us will typically have more than one savings goal in mind.

4.      Figure out your projected savings amount

Based on when you want to reach your savings goal, figure out how much you’ll need to save each week or month (based on the minimum amount you can safely put aside regularly).

5.      Open a savings account

Open a saving account online or at a financial institution that you trust. Select an institution where it is harder to get to the money quickly so that you’re less tempted to withdraw money on a whim.

6.      Don’t link your savings to your checking

I always urge clients to set up their savings account separately from their checking account. Why? Because it is FAR too easy to transfer money back and forth between both accounts – effectively depleting both!  Years ago, I had both accounts linked and frequently transferred money out of my savings to cover checking activity when I went over budget. Banks encourage you to do this as well, because once you’ve exceeded a set number of transfers, they charge you for additional ones. So, both account balances continue to diminish.  

7.      Set up recurring withdrawals

This is one of the biggest “secrets” of successful savers. Schedule automatic withdrawals timed with your guaranteed pay periods to assure consistency. Then, “Set it and forget it.”

8.      Let it grow

Let your automatic withdrawals fund your account. And then “forget” the account. The longer you develop the habit of leaving it alone, the more disciplined you will become, and the more money you’ll save (with interest).

And then your savings will be there. Ready to serve you when you need it most.

What do you think? What tips have you used to help you save?  What worked for you and what didn’t? Leave me a comment below. And if you found this piece helpful, please share it.

About Yolanda Ransom

Yolanda Ransom is a certified Financial Coach & Consultant who empowers clients to confidently master new money management skills, resulting in improved finances and financial stability. She is the CEO of Yolanda Ransom Consulting and provides personal finance coaching and training to individuals and groups. You can find out more about her and working with her at yolandaransom.com.

“Spender” or “Saver”?

Financial Tip of the Day: 

A big part of owning your finances is understanding your personal approach to money. For me, I definitely spend money on things that increase my happiness – like good food (which I’m doing here at KFC), music, movies, concerts, electronics, etc. However, I tend to be more frugal, with a “Saver” personality. Seeing money pile up in my accounts while earning interest gives me the biggest buzz. Other people get greater enjoyment from spending their money on things they like and seeing the nice items/experiences they’ve bought pile up. Neither approach is wrong – unless it’s taken to extremes. That’s when problems arise.  In both cases, finding a balance is key.

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I found this great quiz: Are You a Spender or Saver? Take the EveryDollar Quiz!  to help figure out whether you’re a “spender” or “saver.” It also reached the same conclusion that I did – finding a balance is most important.

As I expected, I’m a “Saver.” What were your results? Leave me a comment and let me know.

P.S. -  To get help finding your balance, email me at yrconsulting@optimum.net to arrange a FREE mini coaching session.

Begin Saving NOW…

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I know, I know…this is not the first time you’ve heard those words (from me and others) …or thought them to yourself. You KNOW it’s something that you need to do. Especially in these uncertain financial times. Even though the recession of ’07 is behind us, and the economy has rebounded quite a bit, we’re not out of the woods…yet.

And while some celebrated the election of Donald Trump, many viewed his election with fear, concern, and dread (and STILL DO). Much of that centered on fears of a reversion of recent economic progress and/or the economy plunging into another recession.

While we cannot control the direction the country heads into over the next 4 years, we CAN control our own finances. You can begin the journey towards increased financial security. It starts with saving money. Even if it’s only a little bit.

There a few reasons people don’t save. Besides money being genuinely tight for some, many people simply have an aversion to saving because they view it as “depriving” themselves. You can still buy things that you want and desire AND save money. The trick is to factor in a certain percentage or amount to save monthly, and then buy LESS of those things you want and desire.  Start looking at savings as a “safety cushion” or “safety net” rather than as deprivation. This article offers great tips on how to begin: “7 Ways To Get You Into The Psychology of Saving Money.”  

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Studies show that happiness and peace of mind are increased by socking away money (even small amounts) - as discussed here in “What Are the Best Ways to Save Money?”

Don’t discount the importance of building a nest egg (no matter how small). Sometimes this can make all the difference between falling into debt and missing crucial bills (like rent, a mortgage, etc., - which can have devastating consequences), and not.

It IS possible to have a more hopeful and secure future. I regularly save myself and have developed a strong saving habit. I’ve also helped others who were previously non-savers to start socking away money…which they’re still doing today. Most people find that by making some small changes, they can find money where there “was none before.”

And while some of us can start saving on our own and others just a need a little nudge (or two) to get going, some of us need a bit more help. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. What’s more shameful is looking up in 10 years and realizing that you STILL haven’t saved a penny even though you vowed to do it a thousand times. The answer: start NOW.

About Yolanda Ransom

Yolanda Ransom is a certified Financial Coach & Consultant who empowers clients to confidently master new money management skills, resulting in improved finances and financial stability. She is the CEO of Yolanda Ransom Consulting and provides personal finance coaching and training to individuals and groups. You can find out more about her and working with her at yolandaransom.com.

Take Care of Those Old 401Ks

Financial Tip of the Day:

If you’re like me, you’ve had more than one employer sponsored retirement account. You have moved on from one job to another (or are in between jobs) and left your retirement funds in your old employer’s plan. Often, individuals leave their funds in the old account out of convenience or laziness, with little afterthought. If you do opt to leave it there, be actively aware of what’s happening with your account.

Rather than leaving it sitting there with the past employer, you can find out if/how to rollover those funds into your new employer’s plan.  If you don’t have a new employer, you can usually rollover your old employer sponsored account into an individual account. Most 401k administrators will even do the rollover for you, if you move the funds to their company. Each option has different tax impacts, so you’ll need to see which one is best for you.

As tempting as it may be to withdraw the money to spend it now, I warn against it. It takes a lot of time to build up retirement savings, but just minutes to blow all of it. Plus, any money withdrawn prematurely results in paying early withdrawal penalties and taxes on them. DON’T withdraw the funds, just ROLL THEM OVER. Before you know it, you’ll be retiring - and you’ll really need those funds then.

Free Money You Can't Afford to Leave on the Table…

When reviewing the financial pictures of clients who indicate that they don’t have retirement savings, I often ask, “Do you contribute to your company’s retirement plan?” And “Do they match?’” More times than I’d like to admit, I’ve been told “No, I don’t,” followed by “I don’t know (if my company matches).” Needless to say, this isn’t good.

Forbes states that Americans say not saving for retirement early and often enough is their BIGGEST regret!

No matter what our age, it’s vital to build up retirement savings once we’re eligible! I always remark that I don’t expect social security to be around by the time I retire. Whether that’s the case or not, my point is that I’ve decided that saving up enough to live well during retirement is UP TO ME. And this is what I try to communicate to clients. The way to financial security is to put in place a strategy where we take individual responsibility for our financial futures - and not depend on others to do this for us. Whether it’s Uncle Sam, a relative, or hoping to win the lotto…

To that end, I always urge clients to find out their company’s retirement plan details. If they’re a New Hire, I ask them to find out and let me know what the deadline is for enrollment. If it’s no longer possible to enroll in the plan until the next open enrollment period, I offer to review plan details and explain the tax and savings benefits of utilizing a retirement plan.

Since many companies match a percent of the contribution amount made by employees, employees who fail to enroll in the plan literally forfeit hundreds or thousands of dollars! I tell clients, “As hard as you work, don’t you deserve to take advantage of this extra money?” They always agree. The problem is that often they don’t understand how the retirement plan works and its benefits. Confusion and/or lack of knowledge are almost always the reasons for this inaction.

If you don’t understand your company’s retirement plan policy, reach out to your company’s HR department, the plan administrator ( the company that handles the retirement funds), or a financial professional for help.

If you’re still not convinced by my argument, take a few moments to read this Huffington Post piece : What Retirement Without Savings Looks Like. The best time to prepare is now when you have money consistently coming in.

About Yolanda

Yolanda Ransom is the CEO of Improve Your Finances, LLC and is a Certified Financial Coach & Consultant.  She empowers clients to confidently master new money management skills, resulting in improved finances and financial stability. She’s assisted thousands of clients with understanding and selecting plan and benefit enrollment packages. Learn more about Yolanda here.