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Create a Budget – Make a Plan

spendingAre you trying to get your spending under control? Are you in the position that you realize that you need be saving more, but need the basic skills needed to put together a plan to map your future? If this resonates with you, read on…

Many women struggle with money management. First, get rid of any guilt you may feel about what’s happened in the past. You can’t change the past and it’s important to focus on what you can do right now, in the present. I am addressing this blog to a group of our population known as Gen X.

As a generation, the Gen-X’ers (those born between 1965 and 1982) have a propensity to spend more than they earn. “Nearly all Gen Xers report holding student loan, medical, credit card, or other debt, with a median of more than $7,000. In contrast, their parents held just over $1,000 in debt at the same point in their lives”. And , and not surprisingly, the majority don’t even have an emergency fund. (Source Pew Charitable Trust Report. September 2014.)
money-mistakes-325x222 If you are in this or a similar situation, whether you are single or are in a committed relationship, take the time to sit down and really look at your spending patterns.

In order to save you have to pay yourself first, or make yourself one of the line items on your automatic bill pay. If you wait until the end of the month to save what’s leftover, this will never happen.

Analyze what you spend on entertainment, clothes and other discretionary “stuff” . You may be very surprised at how much money is wasted that could help you start a new financial future.
If you are in debt, make a vow to yourself to pay off the debt. Set up a goal and look at it every month. Write it down. I will pay off my debt in xx months. If you are single, find a friend or a trusted colleague to help keep you on track. Remember a goal with no end date is nothing more than a dream.
women_and_money_alt727x285Don’t procrastinate another day. If you need help or encouragement, send me an email. When I was 34 years old, I was over $40,000 in debt, a single mom, and my income was less than what I owed. It can be done if you are committed to a better future for yourself and your family.

Today I am a successful business owner and have met my goal of being one of our firms tops clients.

If you’ve achieved the enviable goal of being debt free and have accumulated a comfortable savings account, we will address the next steps in my next blog.

Some Day My Prince Will Come…or Not

The-Prince-Charming-IllusionYoung girls, teenagers, and college students are bombarded with images of getting married to the perfect guy, finding Mr. Right, and being taken care of by a man from an early age.

There are plenty of great female role models out there, but I am amazed at how many capable, intelligent young adult women do not start planning for their own future because they are waiting for Mr. Right to come along and take care of them!

Don’t get me wrong, women have come a long way. But I see many young women that put off dealing with their financial issues because they are waiting for a man who makes enough to take care of all their future needs. The reality is, Prince Charming may never come, or may not be the breadwinner you are looking for. This lack of self awareness often drives women to under earn, over spend, and push off taking control of their finances into the future.

There is nothing wrong with the desire to meet prince charming, but don’t ignore or postpone taking control of your life in the hopes that someone else will come along and solve your problems.

If you are in a low paying job, don’t waste your time and energy looking for a high earning man. Evaluate what you want out of life and figure out what you need to do to earn more money.6 figure womenIf you need inspiration, go out and buy the book “The Secrets of 6 Figure Women” by Barbara Stanny. It is an informative and empowering book.

Our earnings limitations are usually a result of our belief systems. If you have the desire to be more than you are today, earn more than you earn today, you may start feeling guilty or uncomfortable, thinking that somehow you don’t deserve it. The negative thought processes of using vocabulary that include, “I can’t”, “I won’t” or “I don’t,” can become self fulfilling prophecies. As Buddha observed, “All things that we are, arise from our thoughts.”

Twenty five years ago when I entered the financial services business, I was scared to death. It was a struggle to come out of my comfort zone and enter into unknown territory. I had to tell myself I had unlimited potential. I told myself I could take care of myself and my daughter financially and would help others do the same. Did I believe this at first? No, but I wrote down positive affirmations, I wrote what my future would look like. I would recite positive affirmations in the shower. I knew being financially secure and independent was possible. I just had to squelch the voice in my head that tried to defeat me.comfort zoneIn my case, the pain of divorce forced me into action and I knew I had to go outside my comfort zone to change my life. The pain of a financial challenge is often the catalyst for taking action.

If you are facing a challenge, write down what your future will look like with you in charge!

Make a poster board (or use Pinterest) to post pictures of the positive things you will have in your future and a loving partner can be one of those. Look at it every day.

Take ownership and control and believe that you, and only you, can make the necessary changes to have a brighter future in which you are in control. Find a successful woman to mentor you so that you can affirm that what you want out of life is within your reach.

The beauty of this life is that all things are truly possible as long as you believe and are willing to work. In the words of my father, “the harder you work, the luckier you will be.”

I invite you to share your story with me on how you changed your life or how you plan to in the future.take chargeTake charge!

How a Closet Cleanse can Change Your Life and Other Financial Musings

“If you want to improve your life immediately, clean out a closet. Often it’s what we hold onto that holds us back.” – Cheryl Richardson

MeganOver the past two days I spent six hours working with an image consultant who starts the relationship with a closet cleanse. A whopping 20 bags later, (no judgment please, just observe), I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. I had been talking about doing this for years but found it difficult if not impossible to make the first move. The impetus to tackle this came from a recent significant life experience. I just finished construction on my first office building that is all my own. Through this process, I gave or threw away my furniture, rugs and clutter that had accumulated over the past 13 years! I felt so light and happy that it led me to decide that it was time to put my “personal closet “in order as well. However, I knew I needed help.Closet QuoteYou might be wondering, “What does any of this have to do with financial planning?” Hang tight, I’m about to explain. As I was throwing things into piles and starting to get organized I said to Megan, my amazing closet consultant, “your work is very important and quite similar to what we do at Fish and Associates, only our work is helping people put their financial lives in order.”

The move to my new office space ignited a fire in me, not unlike my clients who are inspired after a major life change occurs (a job change, marriage, divorce, death, etc.) to put their financial life in order. This can be an extremely overwhelming process for people and many of them make the decision to seek the guidance of a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™.

After 25 years in business and through this extremely cathartic experience, I realized on an emotional level what it must feel like to go through the process of doing a financial plan. All of the organizing, getting rid of what isn’t working and setting a clear path for the future is an amazing experience. What it does for your psyche and peace of mind is truly life altering.

gapBecause planning and tidying up our clients financial lives comes naturally to me, and organizing and tackling my multiple closets and drawers at home did not, I had an epiphany about how important the work we do for our clients truly is. I’m not bragging; I’m stating a fact. Getting organized in any aspect of your life is transformative and life-changing. I’ve had many clients tell me this over the years but I feel my experience with Megan made me truly understand it and I am so grateful.

My hope is that my experience creates an opportunity for you to do something you have put off for years and, as Nike encourages us, just do it!

(If you want to learn more about Megan’s work check out her website at MeganLaRussa.com)

2015 Winter Perspectives

Winter 2015

Lump Sum Pension – Is it right for me?

lumpsumFor the small percentage of folks out there that are still offered a pension by your employer (≈20%), lump sum vs. lifetime income requires a full analysis and should be done thoughtfully and thoroughly.

It still amazes me that people will come into our office to have a plan done to see which option to choose, and they follow up with, “I’m retiring next week or at the end of the month.” This is hardly enough time to fully analyze a situation to determine the best way to go.

If you go to a financial person and they are willing to answer that question at the first meeting, don’t walk but run out the door and get another opinion.

Why? Because you only get to make this decision once, and if you make the wrong decision it could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars over your lifetime. There are a number of considerations to be made before you can make an educated decision.

Here are a few of them:
1. How is your health (and spouse’s)?
2. What benefits will your spouse be eligible for in the future?
3. What are your income needs?
4. Do you have aging parents / a child that needs ongoing financial support?
5. Have you discussed long-term care and health insurance costs in retirement?
6. Do you have other investments that offer future inflation protection?
7. Does the pension offer a cost of living adjustment?
8. Can your spouse live comfortably off of the reduced pension amount at the first death?
9. Do you carry life insurance? How much is it for and how long will it last?

These are just a few of the questions we explore before making a recommendation on what is best for each situation.

For those cost conscience folks out there who don’t want to spend the money on a financial plan, think again. We believe it could be the best investment you can make to secure your financial future.

If you have specific questions, feel free to email me at kathy@nullfishandassociates.com.

Note: Due to industry regulations on communication, we are unable to allow for public comments on this blog. Please feel free to email me your questions and/or comments to kathy@fishandassociates.com. Thank you. Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. NFP Securities, Inc. is not affiliated with Fish & Associates.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS are not affiliated with Fish and Associates. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

This site is published for residents of the United States only. Registered representatives of Kestra IS and Investment Advisor Representatives of Kestra AS may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered. Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed. Not all of the products and services referenced on this site are available in every state and through every representative or advisor listed. For additional information, please contact the Kestra IS compliance Department at 512-697-6000.

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