This is one of my favorite blog posts I ever wrote for an ambitious mom blog I had the first year of being a mom. It was a labour of love that has now fallen defunct, but there are a few articles that I wanted to share here to live on.
This one is about my favorite subject: practical financial advice for the everyday girl.
After the financial debauchery known as the Holidays are over many of us are left feeling that sense of regret now that the toys have been opened, played with and set aside for the old faithfuls and you’ve tipped everyone and their grandma, you are left wondering WTF? Compounded with that is the heightened expectations of unrealistic New Year’s Resolutions and a general feeling of not setting yourself up for success.
As new moms, I know we are busy but I’ll put it to you this way: it’s either now or never. It’s just that simple. There is never a right time to make a financial plan for yourself and if you keep waiting for that moment it simply won’t happen.
So here’s how I have approached my Financial Plan every year.
- Create a Mission Statement for the year chocked full with action verbs. This is my mission statement for 2015: To continue to save and diversify income and investment sources while rededicating myself to gaining new skills to continue to keep myself marketable and relevant.
- I divide the year into 4 Quarters and Make One Overarching Goal for Each Quarter that is measurable in a quantifiable way. For instance, 2 years ago it was pay 10K towards my principle balance reduction on my car in order to pay off my car sooner.
- Then for each Quarter, I have 3-4 actionable behavior modifications or income generating ideas I will explore. I stick to 3-4 for each quarter because I was once told that anything more than 3 goals sets you up for failure. For example, last year my one actionable goal for 3rd Quarter was to put a security freeze on all of my credit after we had a horrific incident of Identity Theft.
That is my overall Financial Plan. I tend to keep it simple, realistic and optimistic at the same time.
The financial plan is just the tip of the iceberg for me. Over the years I have become very financially diligent after a few years of sticking my head in the sand.
As Moms it’s easy to just keep coasting along without a plan but when you realize how draining that is on your energy and robbing your kids of a financial future you do better.
For many of us we want to get our act together because we are too overwhelmed to and sick of paying late fees or hating opening the mail because we don’t want to see another bill but we just don’t know where to begin.
So if you are at a loss for the 3-4 actionable plans for your Financial Plan here are some of my suggestions:
- Open a 529 Fund for each of your children by Jan 15. Set up an ACH with a $25 a month contribution and then invite friends & family to contribute to these funds en lieu of gifts or presents for this next year.
- Register for Mint.com, LearnVest.com or Mvelopes.com. These online budgeting tools will help you track expenses and your budget and you should begin to look at them daily. I highly recommend Mvelopes.com for those of you who have a lot of debt and need helpful and encouraging tools to pay down the debt.
- Take off any account that is on auto-pay. I know this sounds counter intuitive but do not automate things that debit from your account ever. This forces you to be less mindful of your spending and usually allows for errors to go unchecked. It also allows for reoccurring charges from subscription boxes you no longer receive or Care.com accounts that you no longer use to keep on debiting resulting in over $1K a year in waste. (Last March I gave a fine tooth comb to our bank statement and found over $4500 in annual expenses that were on auto-pay for services we weren’t using or didn’t need anymore!)
- Get a savings account that is not tied to your checking account. Look up American Express or Capital One 360. This will force you to really think before making a transfer to your checking account as it requires 3 days notice for a transfer to complete to your checking account. This forces you to get inventive with ways to come up for money when things are tight other than raiding your savings. Hello used toys…sell on Ebay or used electronic devices etc.
- Research your fees on any investments accounts. Not your return on investment, your earnings returns but the expense ratios and fees accessed for any actively managed funds. If you have no idea what I am talking about watch this:
- If you don’t know what an Index Fund is research them and consider moving 10-15% of your investment portfolio to one to compare. I am Boglehead… which means I love Vanguard Admiral Index Fund where you can get expense ratios of less than .017% and expose yourself to a diverse selection of the stock market.
- Learn one marketable skill that would make you more valuable in the workplace.
- Look at your bills and bank statements and try to identify 3-4 monthly costs you could cut: Showtime after Homeland goes off air, Subscription Box, Manicures etc
- Take any unexpected money you come into and place in savings or investment vehicles once you have at least 4-5 months of liquid savings. This means the larger than expected tax refund, a fee that you were able to have refunded or time when you DIY’d your way out of a regularly occurring expense. ( I used to go get my hair done 2x’s a month for about $200 a month I taught myself how to do my own hair after countless hours on YouTube and now I use that money towards my an auto-investment for a Vanguard Fund I love so much)
- Automate your savings no matter how small. If you can begin setting aside $5 a month that is something. Especially compounded with any unexpected money you might come across.
I hope this helps!!! Happy New Year!