Finding Equilibrium: #TheRoad to Financial Wellness

The following blog post is part of The Road to Financial Wellness Blog Tour. Over a period of 30 days, the Phroogal team will go to 30 locations to raise awareness about financial empowerment. Today they will be in Portland/Corvallis! Our goal is to help people learn about money by starting the conversation. We understand that local conversations can help bring about national awareness.

#TheRoad


What does the road to financial wellness look like to you?

When you immerse yourself in money topics (in communities, online, through professionals, etc.) it is feasible to locate the extremities. On one corner of the internet you can find how frugality can lead to early retirement. On the other hand through media outlets, you can view the lavish lifestyles of those who experience the abundance of wealth and opulence. I’m not knocking either side of the spectrum. Heck, people can make money choices any way that appeals to their liking because they have their own opinions, their own matters, and their own lives that they embody & create. But what about those people that fall in the middle of the scale that may not feel incredibly attuned to the extremities? Maybe they believe they cannot quite fit in to the right financial communities without feeling quite up to par. What about the people who wish to shape their personal finances, but cannot quite find the school of thought that caters best to them? What can people who wish to follow their road to financial wellness do in order to find the right balance of saving and spending to live out their envisioned lifestyles?

Sometimes, reading and learning from the extremities of people in regards to their money can be overwhelming. We all have to begin somewhere, right? At points on my road to financial wellness I am reverted back to my childhood days of entering a brand new school in a state my family just moved to. Which lunch table am I going to be invited to sit at? It’s enough to make my palms sweat all over again. It essentially strikes back to the fundamentals of fitting in. Do I have to spend beyond my means to keep up with the Jones’, or forego certain spending expenditures in order to prove that I am savvy enough? It may be bold, but I will singlehandedly admit that I question my money decisions when intimidation strikes learning from those and their personal finance successes.

But then I take a step back and recognize that my personal finance situation is mine. My road to financial wellness may be paved with different intentions. 

To me, finding an equilibrium in my relationship with money leads to financial empowerment down my own road. 

And that empowerment is what takes precedence. It leads me to reinstate confidence behind the wheel of my choices and actions. Which allows for me to encourage others to embrace ideals of our relationships with money and support one another.

Finding that equilibrium in my relationship with money takes hard work and commitment. I’ve got to sustain dedication to save to meet my goals, and recognize the right opportunities to spend. It means being vulnerable and open to conversations on money matters with my significant other. It’s reinstating research even post-grad in order to determine the rate of return on my investments, and figure out the value of items before I make a purchase. I’ve got to dig into what I value, and learn that money can actually lead me to more freed up time to be with those that I love. All of the following (and more) lead me down The Road to Financial Wellness.

The following listed items may not appeal to either extreme in terms of relationships with money, and that’s okay. I intend to welcome any and all readers that are working towards whichever goals they may have in a space where they can determine that equilibrium in their relationship with money. I want to invite people to invent what financial empowerment means to them as they travel down their own roads. 

What does financial empowerment look like?

That answer will remain open-ended because each and every individual has their own story.

How can financial empowerment start?

By being transparent when it comes to conversations about money.

 

Whether it’s with your friends, family, loved ones, neighbors, colleagues, internet connections, or random acquaintances. Get the conversation rolling! You can design your particular equilibrium in your relationship with money by pulling from different sources. Learn aspects of wealth from the rich, come upon early retirement goals from those who have already reached financial independence, learn from hardships that each one of us may have faced in the trenches of financial matters, pick up a personal finance read at the local library. We can take on the ebbs and flow of life by supporting one another to feel financially empowered in whichever way we choose. Whether you picture your road surrounded by blue sprawling sky, lined with fresh fallen snow, accompanied by mountains in the backdrop, soaking in a picturesque sunset, or covered above by stars…financial empowerment will always be just around the corner as long as you take the wheel and steer.

 

What makes you feel financially empowered? What would you like to talk about when it comes to money? Have you found an equilibrium in your relationship with money? Let’s get this conversation started in the comments below!

 

99 Problems But My Savings Sitch Ain’t One

I’m interrupting this week to bring you something a little bit different.

If any of you have ever heard a little Jay-Z, this one’s for you.

So bounce to the beat in your head (or better yet play the track in the background).

This week I’m bringing you…

99 Problems

 

If you’re having saving problems, don’t feel bad about it son
I got 99 problems but my savings sitch* ain’t one

[Verse One]

I got the money savings on the retirement cravings
Average Joes that wanna make their bank accounts roll
Non-saver critics that say “We’re all crazy though”
I’m from generation Y our savings should be low
But we’re growing up now knowing this is a no-go
You celebrate each minute because you be saving yo’
I’m like forget the critics they can do what they want
If you don’t like to save you can press the back arrow
Got money compounding with interest it grows
Let’s get to saving so we can live life aglow
People try to use all their cash
To try to give ’em happiness fast
I don’t know what they may be doing with all that
Or understand the intelligence savings can have
We’ve got choices to save or splurge pick which one
I got 99 problems but my savings sitch* ain’t one

[Chorus]

99 problems but my savings sitch* ain’t one
If you’re having saving problems, don’t feel bad about it son
I got 99 problems but my savings sitch* ain’t one

[Verse Two]

The year is 2015 and in our accounts we saw
All the financial goals that defy the spending laws
We’ve got some choices to splurge or
Kick it into high gear and invest even more
Now I ain’t trying to tell you save more than you can take
But I got a few tips to keep you financially safe
So we…continue to save push aside the overload
Of people saying “What you even saving for?”
‘Cause we’re determined and we’re different and our goals continue to grow
Do we look like we want to stop, say it ain’t so
Are we supposed to pause or defend our dough
“Well you don’t need to save anymore”
“Living above your means makes you a star”
“Are you saving for retirement I know a lot of you are”
I ain’t tripping I’m proud of all of it
“Do you mind if I ask you how to save a little bit?”
Well my space is safe to talk without all the flack
And I know it’s tough to start saving and get on track
“Can I come here each week and learn a little something?”
“Or invite someone here so they can learn something?”
Of course you can let’s talk money a bit
Enough so that you can live life legit
“Let’s get smart and see how we can grow our money into a sum”
I got 99 problems but my savings sitch* ain’t one

[Chorus]

99 problems but my savings sitch* ain’t one
If you’re having saving problems, don’t feel bad about it son
I got 99 problems but my savings sitch* ain’t one

(P.S. If you didn’t catch it quite yet, “sitch” = slang for situation in this song!)

What song motivates you to stick to your money goals? What helps you get pumped up to save money? Can’t wait to hear about it in the comments below!

Wham! Bam! Thank You M.A.M.!

Life brings on an immense amount of responsibilities. It can get ridiculously (really ridiculously) overwhelming when there are several payments, financial goals, and future events to prepare for. How to keep it all straight to ensure your finances are being taken care of? Let’s take it back to the 50’s with a little Dean Martin. I’m talking swingin’ to “Wham! Bam! Thank you M’am!” In this post, we’re going to cover a personal finance twist of M.A.M.:

M.A.M


Today I’m going to be covering Money Allocation Methods, and ways that you can build destinations for your money to reach your financial goals (with a bonus flow chart showing where to put money to work for all the visual learners out there, whoot whoot!). When reading about PF (personal finance), it’s empowering to hear that your finances are personal. What works for one person, surely will not work exactly the same for the other. If you are starting from square one to get your finances in tune (or continuing to strengthen your financial game plan), it’s great to get inspiration of how other people accomplish their financial goals. From there, you can take methods, tips, tricks, strategies, etc. in order to create the best personal finance game plan that’s tailored exactly to you.

Think about it as if your friend says “Hey man, want this shirt? It’s brought me lot’s of luck but I can’t fit into it anymore!

-AKA your friend needs new money systems to fit his personal finances but wants to pass down his awesome financial wisdom to you.

You say “Sure!” and take the shirt gladly. You throw it on and realize it’s too big for you, but sincerely appreciate the fact that he passed it down to you. You think about ways you can shrink down the shirt by either throwing it in the wash, or waiting a little while until you grow into it more.

-AKA you’re taking your friends previous money systems with gratitude and figuring out a way to make it fit best to you, even if it means changing it from it’s original form. Or waiting for the right moments in the future to put it to use.

All of this is to say that one shirt size (financial game plan) does not fit at all. But you can always make something work best for you if you give it a shot! A little modification never hurt anybody.


So what’s the deal with Money Allocation Methods?

Each phase of life can bring several financial goals. For example, an ever-growing financial responsibility list may look a little something like this (in no particular order):

  1. Rent/mortgage payments
  2. Food costs
  3. Bills & utilities
  4. Student loan payments
  5. Future events (i.e. Birthdays, holidays, weddings, etc.)
  6. Car payments
  7. Retirement allocations
  8. Travel
  9. Emergency Fund
  10. Investments

Depending on lifestyle choices this list can be spot on, or could be modified in one way, or another (aka why personal finance is personal)! Without systems in place, it can be mind-boggling to juggle money in just one destination (for example: one checking account). Temptations can arise to spend, when you had the initial goal to put some of that money towards savings.

Enter in Money Allocation Methods. Creating methods of putting your money towards certain goals will allow for more of seamless system to be in place (as a side note, automation works very well but I recognize manually putting money in place is more comfortable for some). That way, you don’t have to sit and crunch numbers from your checking account to make sure that all of your bills will be paid this month even if you decide to go on a quick weekend trip to the coast with some friends. I want you to feel less stress when handling your money to spend more time on the things you love. 


Example Flow Chart of Money Allocation

Now you may be wondering, where can I allocate my money to take care of all my financial priorities? Maybe you’ve made an extra lump sum of cash and would rather put it to work rather than spending it. Maybe you’ve received a promotion and a raise entails more dollars each month. Here is an example of different money destinations providing examples of how to choose where you’re going to put that money to work! Refer to hypothetical list of expenses above to also follow along.

Think of your main checking account as the hub of all your personal finance activity. This can be your financial “base.” Kind of like when we all used to play capture the flag as kids (anyone up for playing a huge game soon)?! Think of this base as your go-to location where your income is deposited into. All additional goals aside, you know there are certain financial obligations you must pay month to month. Those particular financial obligations can also come from the following hub (it is important to recognize your realized/take home income from month to month, this will help for cash inflow and outflow – refer to my post on budgets if you would like some guidance). Try to keep the amount you owe per month (and a bit more potentially for a buffer) in this hub. This will prevent you from withdrawing your account.

Checking Account 2

Have a future wedding to attend? Want to make sure you can fly home for a celebration with your family? Want to attend that music festival over the weekend with some friends? Start saving early! When you put aside money to a separate place for those short term rewards & future events, you end up reducing the risk of not having enough allocated for your monthly financial obligations. Also, setting aside money for these certain life events gives you an actual picture of the tangible amount you have available to spend (that isn’t supposed to go towards say paying your monthly water bill).

Savings Account 1

Emergency funds are key when it comes to meeting financial obligations. You can build a healthy relationship with credit cards, but it can turn detrimental very quickly if you have to rely on them in emergency situations. Utilize a savings account to allocate money for those emergency situations. It allows you quick access to withdraw the cash, and less risk of losing any money by investing it. A great reference point is to have at least 1 month worth of expenses saved up for emergencies, but it’s always great to surpass for those just in case moments. Attempt not to dip into these savings unless the situation certainly calls for it. Remember: an emergency doesn’t have to be dire either. This type of savings can also be for a situation where you’re in between jobs, or working hard to gain new clients.

Retirement Account

Ah yes, the glory days of retirement. Whether your goal is to retire at 35, or later in life you should consider setting up a form of account to accomplish your retirement savings goals. Set up deposits from your paycheck to your 401(k) with your employer, or deposit to a Roth/Traditional IRA through financial institutions. Received a tax refund? Deposit it here and have your future self thank you later! Take advantage of compound interest with opportunities to invest & grow your money.

Investments

Taking on any additional forms of investing will depend on your risk tolerance. A lot of people would rather keep “cash under the mattress” rather than partaking in any form of investing. Inflation will occur, and the power of your dollar now will not hold as much power in the future unless you provide the opportunity for it to grow (for just one simple example, think about how much a movie cost while you were a child compared to now – it ain’t so cheap anymore)!


The following flow chart above is just one example of how to create Money Allocation Methods. Seem like too many accounts/places to hold your money? Once the initial set up is done, you’ll put yourself at ease recognizing that the money you allocated is being put to work with minimal involvement & hassle. Let’s create that confidence that will get us all singing “Wham! Bam! Thank you, M.A.M.!” We’ll be singing this tune because our allocation methods have us feeling financially empowered to take on the everyday/monthly expenses, our short term goals, and our future! How great is that?

What type of Money Allocation Methods do you have in place? How do you plan to allocate your money to reach your financial goals? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Wham! Bam! Thank you for reading!

 

 

 

 

 


Getting In The Zone With Student Loans

I’m sure you have heard that the accumulation of student loan debt in the United States is pretty much…well, unreal.

According to Debt.org, the estimated total of student loan debt is $1.2 trillion.

This is absolutely an astronomical number.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, it’s almost considered a normalcy for people to bear the burden of this student loan debt. We could deliberate about whether attending college, or not is a determinant of your success for quite honestly….days. Does education trump experience, or vice versa? There are an incredible amount of factors that create valid points for both sides.


I will make a fairly debatable statement though:

When employers/HR/recruiters are utilizing the mandatory benchmark of whether a candidate has a degree (or not) to eliminate resumes from their copious stack, a majority of people will manifest the notion that they should have a degree to receive a high earning job after graduating from a university.*

(*Please note: I realize that there are employers/HR representatives/recruiters that do not use the benchmark as a mandatory element to allow a candidate to proceed through the hiring process. I am speaking from my perspective and observations. My perspective does not sum up the experiences of the U.S. as a whole).

Carry student loan debt? You’re not alone. According to CNNMoney.com, over 40 million Americans now carry some form of student loans, and the number is still rising. The idea of carrying this student loan debt throughout a lifetime is a lot for people to bear. So much to bear, that it can cause people to be at a standstill to not even become educated on what the actuality of the debt they carry truly means.

Do we know what our interest rates are? Do we only pay the minimum per month? Do we have a full picture of the total of student loan debt in actuality if we have taken out multiple loans?

There are an insane amount of things to learn that revolve around student loans. Learning about our student loans is a vital part of strengthening our financial game plan now – especially when there are a wide array of financial obligations that we will experience along the way of life. Being knowledgeable about our student loans will give us a strong understanding of what we owe, how to make it happen/pay it down, and how much interest is accruing over time (in addition to the money that we already owe).

I could write a multitude of blog posts about student loans, but there are much better outlets out there to get educated on the matter. What I will do instead, is provide a list of resources that will allow you to learn every aspect and perspective of student loans. Yes, the amount of complexities are tremendous. But I want to encourage everyone to become financially sound with the responsibility of taking on student loans to override the sense of being overwhelmed.


Student Loan Resources:

(Please note, none of the following are affiliate links. This is just a compiled list of sites that I have put together).

ionManage via iontuition.com

Student Loan Calculator via NYTimes.com

Students & Debt via Debt.org

Student Loans: Introduction via Investopedia.com

Student Loans via StudentAid.ed.gov

Learn About Loans via StudentLoan.com


Inspirational Student Loan Blog Resources

Want to read about people who have completely paid off their loans in a short amount of time, who have systems in place to pay off in a timely manner, are giving advice for ways to tackle your student debt? Check out this list of bloggers & resources.

StudentLoanHero.com

AskHeatherJarvis.com

MillennialMoneyMan.com

NoMoreHarvardDebt.com

SixFiguresUnder.com


 

Encouraging you to get in the zone with your student loans and other personal finance matters…