We’re coming up on Thanksgiving, a time for gratitude. Some of us are not happy. We think that ‘if only’ we had this or that, we could really enjoy life. Studies indicate that though your natural happiness ‘set point’ has genetic components, happiness is also a choice. Here are seven happy tips.
Review your mix – Have you looked at your investments at all since you initially chose them? I know you may feel confused about the holdings, but there will be fund information available that may tell you the mix of stocks and bonds in the account, if the fund is international or domestic, etc. use that and your risk and goals to help plan.
I love studies because I love seeing the numbers of how people behave. Here’s a study that compares Generation X/Y (average age 37, hereafter termed Gen x’ers) with Baby Boomers (average age 65, hereafter termed Boomers) and how they live with their money.
As part of my personal philosophy, I begin with the end in mind. Meaning, where am I hoping to be when things are over? What can I do to work towards that dream? What things work against me that I should try to avoid?
I recently had a chat with the daughter of a friend who just got a raise. But she cannot figure why she is now making double what she made two years ago and still has no money. Let’s talk about this very common dilemma, with a little help from a recent article.
Lifestyle creep – Things that you previously considered luxuries are not weekly necessities. Massages, spa treatments, work-out sessions with a trainer, upgrades on basic services can’t all be purchased on that little raise, bud. Going without is not my dream for you, but you likely can’t afford ALL this.
Too many dinners – According to an article, Americans ages 18-29 spent $173 PER WEEK on food and they eat out more than other age groups. If the purpose is social, I get it, but you can do this cheaper. About 15% of your income should be spent on food.
Monthly auto-pay – It was great idea to put bills on auto-pay until you failed to use those services. Time passes and your needs and interests change. Four years ago this monthly service seemed invaluable. Check your bank info or credit card statement and see what you are paying for every month. You may not use several of the services and might be able to save some real money.
You’re a generous pal- I know how happy it makes you to see your friends have fun and so maybe you are ‘lending’ money with more frequency than you realize. Start noticing how often you are paying $20 here and more there and come up with a way to change this. You don’t have to be confrontational. But you work hard for your money, so hard for it honey. So maybe you should start saving for your emergency fund instead of helping that friend so often it is almost expected.
Glamour October 2013
According to a recently published study, for 61% of workers surveyed said their 401(k) is their only savings for retirement and will be an important source of income along with Social Security. More than half have increased their contributions in the past couple of years and believe their investments have recovered since the crisis, and most realize the importance of a 401(k).
Track your budget – where is your money going? How is what you’re spending now helping you or your family have a future? Where’s it all going? If hardship or a life change has changed your nest egg, we need to hunker down and take control of our pennies so our dollars will take care of us. Don’t have a budget? Get thee to the library or search onling for sample and get a handle on your spending.
Things happen because life is full of surprises.
And some of them are hard.
No one can protect you from sudden loss, but here are some ideas to provide some guidance.
Don’t add new debt- It is important that you do EVERYTHING you can to not ADD any more debt. There really are very few emergencies that will come up that you absolutely MUST have money. Many have gone into debt for convenience. To have that thing now instead of when we’d saved up for it. Don’t add any new debt.Make a budget – I think it’s really important to know WHERE your spending occurs. What are you spending you money on? In the years that I’ve been in business, I’ve seen that we may have a hardship or a particular area of debt that is higher than might be best. But we tend to fritter our money away on stuff. We eat out or spend money of groceries that rot before we even cook them. We shop for the kids for way more than they need. We are bored so we amuse ourselves with pals at the mall and buy stuff we don’t ever wear. List your debts- List the total owed and the monthly amounts due and the interest rate. Pick a strategy for paying this off. I think that smaller debts once paid off, will do so much to boost your feelings of awesomeness that starting with the smallest card/debt is the way to start. But for some folks that just irks them as they really want to tackle the highest interest rate debt first. It’s your plan, so just decide on what you want to do.Pay off while saving- Once you have figured out how much you are spending on things by examining your budget and your expenditures, cut back on variable expenses. Variable expenses are those that are not set like food, Christmas shopping, clothing. Rent or mortgage is a fixed expense. Food shopping, etc., is a variable expense. Be sensible but strong with yourself. Use what money can be set aside on bill repayment at the same time you are making a little emergency account for life and all its surprises.Hopefully you will get so happy on the success that you wont want to live any other way., But getting started can seem daunting. I know you can do this, kids!Citations:http://www.stayoutofdebttips.com/http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2009/04/08/how-to-get-out-of-debt-stay-out-of-debt-and-live-prosperously/http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/campbell67.htmlMarion Syversen, MBANorumbegaFinancial207.862.2952Marion@NorumbegaFinancial.comCheck out our website that includes weekly streaming videosWWW.NorumbegaFinancial.com Disclosure:Only securities and advisory services offered through Wall Street Financial Group, Inc. Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. Wall Street Financial Group, Inc. and Norumbega Financial are separate entities, independently owned and operated. CR9425
When you have a business and are working on every aspect of it, retirement planning isn’t really on your mind. Until your tax advisor suggests you do something. Let’s review a few options.SEP IRA – There are many different IRAs, and this is one. Used for typically smaller firms – often family owns and works at the company- contributions are 100% employer money. So let’s say you own Tom’s Awesome Yummies(abbreviation TAY). Tom and his wife and Tom’s mom and son work at TAY. The business is booming and the tax advisor has suggested that you use some profits for a retirement account for the firm. Tom’s mom is not making any contributions from her paycheck. All the monies that are placed in the SEP IRA are from Tom’s Awesome Yummies. In 2013, the maximum contribution to a SEP IRA is the lesser amount of $51,00 or 25% of net income. SEP IRAs do not have ongoing requirements for contributions. Please note that this is only a brief overview of SEP IRAs, you should contact a financial professional to help you determine if this is a good fit for your company.SIMPLE IRA – A SIMPLE plan is yet another of the many types of IRAs available. This is business retirement plan used for companies with 100 or fewer employees who earned $5,000 or more during 2012. A SIMPLE IRA must be opened before October 1stof the current year. Contributions from the firm are required every year that the plan is in place while employee contributions are not required. In 2013, the maximum employee contribution amounts are $12,000 plus a $2,500 catch-up contribution if you are over 50 years-old. Once again there are many more details to understand about SIMPLE IRAs but that’s why there are financial advisors. There is no vesting schedule. The money is the employees once it is contributed. Early withdrawals may result in taxes or penalties.401(k) – this plan offers more flexibility but it can have higher annual fees for the company. Contributions may be made by employees ONLY, firms can match if they choose, or the firm alone may contribute to an employee 401(k) account. A vesting schedule may be put in place for company contribution to a 401(k) account.Got questions? Call a financial professional soon so you can weigh your options before October 1st.Citations:http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/On-Retirement/2013/06/10/4-retirement-plan-options-for-small-businesseshttp://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartrobertson/2011/03/29/the-top-three-retirement-plans-for-small-business/How many IRAs – http://www.fool.com/money/allaboutiras/allaboutiras02.htmMarion Syversen, MBANorumbegaFinancial207.862.2952Marion@NorumbegaFinancial.comCheck out our website that includes weekly streaming videosWWW.NorumbegaFinancial.com Disclosure:Only securities and advisory services offered through Wall Street Financial Group, Inc. Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. Wall Street Financial Group, Inc. and Norumbega Financial are separate entities, independently owned and operated. CR9424
We’re all looking for happiness. A client pointed me to this study that equates self-control with happiness.The natural inclination, ask any teenager, is to believe that doing whatever a person’s natural inclination, whether it be to lounge around all day, or eat without being hungry or spend money as the whim overtakes you, THOSE actions must be what makes one happy.But in fact this study, and others before it, found that the more self-control study participants reported having, the happier they were. This happiness was reported both in the short-term and for overall ‘life satisfaction.’So how do these happy people mange their natural cravings? Are they just scolding themselves all day and in every situation?It turns out that self-controlled, happy people carefully think through situations so as not to put themselves in conditions that would leave them LESS able to control their impulses.For instance, if shopping is a weakness in which you blow the budget, get other hobbies. Walk with friends, get busy at a local charity for a weekend, help paint a friend’s apartment, read, cook for a infirm neighbor. Think about your areas of weakness and tweak the situation to make self-control simpler.Make savings automatic. Freeze the credit cards in a block of ice. Hang out with friends who value frugality and like to go to yard sales.What other steps might you take?Citation:http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/07/study-people-with-a-lot-of-self-control-are-happier/277349/ Marion Syversen, MBANorumbegaFinancial207.862.2952Marion@NorumbegaFinancial.comCheck out our website that includes weekly streaming videosWWW.NorumbegaFinancial.com Disclosure:Only securities and advisory services offered through Wall Street Financial Group, Inc. Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. Wall Street Financial Group, Inc. and Norumbega Financial are separate entities, independently owned and operated. CR9382
How can we get the most of a home renovation budget?WHY do this? – Why are you going to this trouble and expense? Are you selling? Is your family growing so you need more room? Do you love the location but the place needs some modernizing? Knowing what is driving this decision is critical in staying focused. If this updating is for a sale, then make the changes more buyers will appreciate. Don’t do just what you like. Check with realtors. Do an online search for common remodels that have a high payback at sale. You have to answer why before you do anything.Watch for ‘creep’ – Remodleing budgets tend to grow and keep growing. You have to really get hold of the budget and vigilantly watch for creep. There are plenty of great ways to spend you money. But you need to keep your WHY answer in mind and let it guide you as you spend. Pay for expertise but use wisdom. Keep major appliances in the same location to save money on electrical and plumbing redo. Use stock items not special order or custom pieces. Try recycled items from the ReStore or salvaged materials from shops to add charm and uniqueness to your job. No change orders. Don’t begin the work until you really know what you want done so that you aren’t making expensive changes during the job.DIY- What can you do yourself? Demo your own work site. Run the errands if possible and do whatever pick-ups you can do. Teach yourself how to do a project. Large and small stores offer free classes on how to do some jobs so that you can do your job for the cost of materials. Don’t tackle jobs that may be too big for your skill level. But you may be able to have a buddy help in return for your help on a similar project at their house and save some cash.Focus – The budget is calling you. Don’t lose your way at the store. Use good but modest materials for some parts of the job and the best for certain items. You can’t outspend everyone. So don’t try. Be smart instead. If you’ve ever seen a commercial on TV you know you may be able to ‘get the designer look for less.’ You just have to be creative and use your imagination. Focus on what needs to be updated and find solid options that look beautiful but are reasonably priced.Refresh – Once some changes have been made you may cringe at the juxtaposition of your ‘old’ furniture next to the new floor. Don’t spend more money on new. Paint and reupholster. Or get a slipcover. Fresh covers, new paint freshens everything. I love changes things. I just want you to be smart so you can really do it.Citations:http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/how-to-budget-for-home-remodeling.htmhttp://realestate.msn.com/slideshow.aspx?cp-documentid=21476077#3http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,1186851-2,00.htmlMarion Syversen, MBANorumbegaFinancial207.862.2952Marion@NorumbegaFinancial.comCheck out our website that includes weekly streaming videosWWW.NorumbegaFinancial.com Disclosure:Only securities and advisory services offered through Wall Street Financial Group, Inc. Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. Wall Street Financial Group, Inc. and Norumbega Financial are separate entities, independently owned and operated. CR9381
Practical ways to teach folks about money are the best. Back-to-school shopping is the perfect opportunity. Many of us are doing a good job on this, but let’s look at some great ideas to help tweak things.Needs vs Wants- In the battle for the best back-to-school treasures ¾ of parents and teens say they have had the discussion about what the student NEEDS versus what they WANT. Then about half make a list to keep the shopping focused. Between sales and discount stores you can get more for less when you have a good list and everyone understands the priorities.Budget- Let the kinds know how much you can spend. Then involve the kids in making a budget. Start by going online with them and looking up the prices of the list of needs and wants. Make a big chart. One author suggested a white board so everyone can see, and just write it all down. No comments, no guilt trips. This is a teaching exercise as much as it is making a budget. Several things come from this open discussion. First, if they want more money they may still have time to earn some in chores or outside work for Nana and Grandpa, babysitting, even a toy yard sale. Second, they can begin deciding the most important elements to their happiness and work their brains around the cheaper options for less important items. Don’t make money be an emotional topic. Don’t hide real life from your kids. Help them see how grownups work these real life issues out with this experience.Reduce – Reuse – You have to decide how much kids really need and what you can afford. In addition you can scour the house for good stuff. Mixing old stuff with new is great for the environment and your pocketbook. Taking that further, try vintage and retro shops for cool clothes.Plan for 2014- If planning like this is new, there could be a few bumps. But next year could go even better. One survey found that about twenty percent of parents save a portion of any tax return they receive specifically for school shopping in the fall. Other parents encourage the summer yard sale so kids think about increasing the shopping budget with their own cash.Setting priorities is part of life and applies to our time and our money. This is as real as real life gets. Though we are better when it comes to school shopping and budgeting parents are not having money talks year-round with kids according to studies. I’m hoping we can improve that this year!Citations:Needs vs wants – http://business.time.com/2012/08/01/why-kids-will-feel-the-pinch-on-back-to-school-duds/Budget – http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/money/saving/back-to-school-budget-00100000085470/index.htmlWhat’s already here- http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-back-to-school-budget,0,17301.storyNext year- http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-back-to-school-budget,0,17301.story Marion Syversen, MBANorumbegaFinancial207.862.2952Marion@NorumbegaFinancial.comCheck out our website that includes weekly streaming videosWWW.NorumbegaFinancial.com Disclosure:Only securities and advisory services offered through Wall Street Financial Group, Inc. Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. Wall Street Financial Group, Inc. and Norumbega Financial are separate entities, independently owned and operated. CR9374