Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Misconceptions about Financial Freedom and the Remedy.

Misconceptions and the Remedies to Gain Financial Freedom.

My hobby is personal finance. I love it like other people play and watch sports or participate in other activities. It's funny though because it really doesn't change. Sure there are little tricks here and there but for the most part it's pretty simple and basic. Save, get out and stay out of debt, live below your means and think rationally before you spend. Then why is it so hard for so many? This is what perplexes me and keeps me going. I believe part of the reason's are misconceptions about money and work and allowing our emotions to rule our spending. Lets' explore some common misconceptions.

Misconceptions about the road to financial freedom.

1. You will have to live an austere life of doing without.
2. It will be painful to do without.
3. It will make you so different from the norm that you will feel embarrassed to be alone in a world of people with nice things.
4. It's a hippie dirty life.
5. You have to make a lot of money to avoid debt.
6. You have to make a lot of money to save.
7. Your kids (or you) will be made fun of for not having what others have, such as a 10 year old not having a new cell phone.
8. I'll be left out of doing things with people.
9. Simple living is for old people or lazy people and wasn't that a thing my grandma did because she lived through the great depression?
10. What's wrong with having nice things if I work hard. Don't I deserve it?

Now lets talk about the remedies and the why's. First of all the why is because you are a slave to the lender when you are in debt and you are not really rich just because you have nice things. Less than 1/3 of the population has savings for retirement. Something is going on here and you can't see it on the surface.

1. You simply make choices and think consciously about your spending. I spent money on my nails and beauty treatments yesterday because it is becoming sandal weather. However I had done without for months because it was sock weather. You simply think about what is most important before you spend. You do without one thing to put emphasis on what is important to you.
2. It is so empowering when you have a goal and you know that you are simply doing without things that won't really bring anymore quality to your life. Do you really need another pair of jeans, shoes, etc...If you do then buy them but if you are shopping for sport ask yourself if working an extra twenty years is worth it.
3. Most people are only concerned with themselves. They don't notice or care if you drive an older car or live in a modest home. They probably don't notice what you wear either. For years I dressed my kids from Goodwill with a few things here and there for Lands End or the Gap (on sale). My kids looked adorable and no one knew the difference. I had a system of buying used clothes from my friends who spent way to much on fancy clothes their kids could wear for one month.
4. I am so grateful that my parents and grandparents taught me this valuable lesson. Many times in my life my parents were struggling. They were divorced and remarried but at times we lived in trailer homes, drove old cars etc. However our homes were always immaculate. My parents planted flowers. If something broke they fixed it. Our cars were older but spotless. There was never any trash laying around. The house was clean and we had garden fresh food. Our yards had flowers planted and were always mowed. At one time apparently we were on Food Stamps for a few brief months, I never even knew. It wasn't said but it was modeled to me that no matter how little you had you took pride in it by taking care of it.
5. I am certainly not perfect here but I have learned the hard way. I've been in and out of debt several times in my 46 years. I've also had a bankruptcy in my twenties. What I have done is look at myself and the habits and choices that got me into that trouble. Paying interest is the opposite of saving money. The poor get poorer because they are constantly paying more in high interest in late fees. Here is a simple example. You get a $5000 tax return and you have no current debt. You make $30,000 a year. You take that tax return and you spend $2000 on toys and crap you don't need. You then go to get a new car and put the $3000 down on a $30,000 car (which is fairly average these days). You likely have a payment of about $450 a month for the next seven years. Or you can take that $5000 and buy a good used car and have no payment. The following year you get another tax return and you sell your car for $4000 buy another car now for $9000 and you have a nicer used car. During this time you take that money you would have spent on car payments and save. Say you save $5000 over the course of 4 years (about $100.00 a month) and you are only 25 years old. By the time you retire you will have turned that into over $150,000 with compound interest (see below).
* Now I want to confess here there are always "It depend's moments" and those depend on your personal situation but that is the point (life is about choices). This is my story.
I put a huge down payment on a new car a few years ago. It was a cheaper car than what I could afford and I chose to do this a few years after my divorce. I travel for work and my other car was having mechanical issues (I had paid it off in three years making less than $32,000 a year), it had terrible gas mileage and I had a horrible problem with it hydroplaning every time it rained (no matter my tires). When I went to purchase a car I chose one that was less expensive, got great gas mileage and was all wheel drive. I did the work before hand and my insurance was the same, my gas bill was cut in half (actually more) and I feel so much safer now driving in bad weather. I will have it paid off by next year (in 3 years). The security of safety was important to me as a single person. I chose this debt at a low interest to buy the security of a safe vehicle to travel in. It is the only debt I carry besides a mortgage, and if things go as planned that will also be paid off in four years.
6.You have probably heard stories of little church ladies who worked in cafeterias and died and left a million dollars to some charity. It does not take a lot to save. Please do yourself a favor and research the magic of compound interest. If you live within your means and take care of what you have anyone can save. A $1000 with triple in 20 years with the magic of compound interest. It's the emotions of the human that get in the way by spending more than they make. Many regular folks retire well by using this method. My ex husband and I took advantage of his retirement plan at work and never took the money out, this was incredibly beneficial to us. Every time he was given a raise we were increasing our savings. When we got divorced I received half of our savings. Now I had been only a part time worker as I was taking care of our four kids ninety percent of the time. After the divorce I started working two jobs. I've continued to put $100 into that account a month, not what I want but it is something. My focus has been on being debt free, holding on to the savings I have and working more and building up my Social Security. In a few short years by the time I am fifty my fiance and I should be able to both go part time or cut back as our bills will be small and we should still have enough to max out IRA's to the full capacity.
7. If people make fun of you or your kids feel they are doing without then make sure to discuss the value of what real friends are. Find people who think like you and instill the values that are important to you into your kids. Make sure to not use words like "We can't afford that" or "we are poor". We want to instill in children that riches are not found in material goods but in relationships and that frugality buys the freedom to choose how you spend your time. If you do not have to work two jobs you can spend more time taking your kids to the park and playing games. This is what they will remember.
8. Find activities that are free or low cost. Choose friends that enjoy the same kind of life as you. When I was younger I started a book club on Voluntary Simplicity. We all shared what we had. Found things to do that were cheap and enriched our lives. We had many potlucks and movie nights. It was not uncommon for me to have twenty people in my house for a potluck and a viewing of a movie like "Low Impact Man". I will treasure those memories forever. Now I have a new book club on Voluntary Simplicity where we meet at the library once a week. It is the highlight of my week and keeps me grounded.
9. Frugality buys us the freedom to have experiences like quality relationships and the ability to travel. Debt puts us in the work mode and extends the hours we have to work to pay our bills. Is it worth it?
My grandparents worked nine to five jobs. They had no debt and much to my surprise when they passed away they left mom and I a pretty nice sum of money. I had no idea they had it. We took glass back to the store to get a nickle. We watched every penny. They had a fishing cabin and went to visit realatives in Houston and Mexico every year. They had a full life but they made choices in life and boy am I glad I had that example.
10. Choose a few nice things and make them stand out. If you have clutter and many things you don't need the nice things get buried. It is better to spend a little more on quality that to buy a bunch of cheap junk. The point is to have more quality and better quality of life with things you enjoy rather than an austere life or a cluttered life that feels like a burden.

So simply put. Save. Don't have debt. Live within your means. Value people and animals over stuff. Take care of what you own. Value your time.

Love and Light,

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Simple Tips on Managing Things that Flow: Money & Personal Space

So this is a chore chart and a budget. See some similarities? 
Our household chores and our money are always flowing. They don't have a clean beginning and an end. Plus we spend more money when we are unhappy with our space, often trying to buy temporary happiness.Think of how much your time is worth? Every-time you pay for something you are paying with the time it took you to earn it.

You have to constantly keep up with your laundry or dishes or you have no clean clothes to wear or dishes to eat off of. With your money if you don't keep up with what is going in and going out you often end up with overdraft charges, late bills, and no savings.
Both your home and your finances need constant attention and both are highly influenced by your emotions. If you are overworked and tired  (or go out to often) and have no dedicated time to clean your house or balance your checkbook/ accounts then your house (and I should add car) will be dirty and your checkbook will not be in balance and bills will get overlooked. You will feel the chaos. The good news is with a little effort you can have a peaceful home and know where your money is going avoiding late charges and having savings.You can also maintain a space you want to be in and that you have pride in, no matter how much money you have. Some people are more comfortable living on the edge of having enough money or living in a messy space. I often wonder if this is true or they are just overwhelmed and don't know where to seek help.

Simple tips on how to manage things that flow: Money and Personal Space 

Personal Space

  1. Every time you get gas empty all the trash out of your car.
  2. When you have your oil changed (every 3500 to 7000 miles) use a place that offers a cleaning with the oil change or change it yourself and  use this time to wash the car, vacuum it and wipe down the interior and spray the tires with a tire cleaner. A clean car body last longer. Also have your tires rotated at least twice a year. 
  3. This is something I have done for years daily and it takes about 30 minutes. Make your bed, do all the dishes and wipe down counters, wash, dry and fold a load of laundry, pick up any loose trash, put up random shoes and clothes and do a quick tidying up. If you haven't done this the first time with take awhile but as you get caught up it's shorter and shorter. Have family members pitch it. Set a time for 10 to 30 minutes and everyone works on something.
  4. Weekly or every two weeks: Dust, Windex, clean the bathrooms, vacuum and mop, change the sheets. Also change cat litter, do yard chores.
  5. Plan days where you go through a drawer, a closet, files etc and clean them out for a hour, or half a day or a whole day. The key is to set some time for this monthly, or quarterly. Do a little at a time or a whole day. Take some things to Goodwill, sell some stuff at the auction or the resale shop, and trash the rest. *This is a great financial motivator as well when you see all you buy that ends up as things you don't need.
  6. Put together outfits in your closet that you can grab and go. This will amaze you and save on time, mess and money.
  7. When it's time to buy groceries go through the fridge quickly and dump out anything you don't need (leftovers from 2 weeks ago plus expired stuff ) and wipe down the inside really quick. 
  8. Do the same with your cabinets, when they are empty (need to go the store or dishes are in the dishwasher) take a damp cloth and wipe them down. 
  9. When you are done washing dishes take a damp cloth and wipe any marks off the cabinet fronts or walls. 
  10. Finally add some special touches to your house cheaply to make you want to be there. A clean house is a house you will want to stay in. Adding twinkle lights, candles, comfy throws and getting rid of clutter makes a home feel homier. Also some people like to bring in things from outdoors like flowers and twigs and pine cones. Put a chair, side table, lamp and foot stool by a sunny window for reading (usually South or West Facing). This is all cheap and makes you appreciate your space which leads to better emotional health and saves money because you will not want to leave and you may actually want to have people over. 

Your Finances: Simple Tips for Financial Flow
  1. Balance your checkbook/ accounts  weekly.
  2. Keep a certain amount of cash for purchases (look into envelope plans or simply keep the cash you have set aside and mark it. Example: Fun Money, Groceries),
  3. Pay your bills and then take out for fun money. 
  4. On a simple piece of paper write down all of your bills and add them up, know the totals owed and the payments. This is crucial. You must know where you are to get where you are going. Do this monthly. 
  5. Write down what you make a month. Subtract your fixed bills, groceries, gas and savings from this and that is your fun money. 
  6. Always have an emergency fund. Emergencies will happen. Period. Everyone's car breaks down, dishwasher breaks, kids falls and needs stitches (hello hospital bill). Don't use this for paying the quarterly insurance payment that you knew was coming, that is a fixed expense.
  7. Have a plan for where your money is going. My step mom taught me this years ago. Write down the days you get paid and the bills that are due and correlate them. Save for big bills weekly. For instance don't try to use your whole paycheck to pay rent one week, instead hold out a little each paycheck for when rent is due. Same goes for those quarterly expenses.
  8. Whatever you do don't go out and spend your money before bills are paid. This is what children do, you are an adult and adults pay their bills on time. Things happen in life sometimes beyond our control I realize this. I had a car wreck, divorce, my first husband had debt that I didn't know about in my name, and I had a medical emergency all in a 18 month period, after that I had to file bankruptcy. I was 20 years old, naive and learned some grown up lessons fast. That was when I took charge and started to learn as much as I could about personal finance. No matter what has happened to you or mistakes you have made, you can recover and start new. 
  9. Check your credit score at least once a year and make sure you know what is on there. You can get one free every year from Experiean, TranUnion and Equifax. You can dispute a charge and the company that has the charge on your report has to prove that you didn't handle it. A bad credit score effects your insurance rates, your ability to get a loan for a car or house, and the rates you get charged for interest. If you are deemed a risk you pay higher rates. I use an online service called Credit Karma.
  10. As much as you can pay as you go and avoid debt, especially credit card debt. People who use credit cards spend approx 16% more when using a credit card then when they have to pull cash out. Don't buy things you can't afford. Let go of allowing material things to feed your soul, that is temporary and doesn't last. Look to your inner character for your happiness and find meaning in the things that matter. To define this make a list of 10 things that bring you happiness. * I would bet money that at least 7 of them don't cost anything or they are very cheap.
Lastly: Taking care of what you have and taking pride in your possessions by caring for them, your appearance by being clean and put together has nothing to do with money. My family on both sides taught me that class is not about what's in your bank account but how you value and take pride in what you have been given by God and by the quality of your character.  

Love and Light,

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Growing up even when you are a grown up. Thoughts on work.

A few words inspired by watching my young adult children come of age.

Just a few things I want to share with my children (and anyone else that cares to read them) that I am often learning myself (I'll point those little mirrors out).

1. Never quit one job without having another lined up.
2. Know that you have to work the yuck jobs before you move up the ladder. Your boss didn't start out a boss, he or she probably scrubbed a toilet before they were a boss. You have to earn it.
3. Take pride in your work. If you have to scrub a toilet make it the shiniest cleanest toilet in town, then go take a nice hot super soapy shower!
4. Work with a smile.
5. Be kind to everyone where you work.
6. No job is beneath you. I've changed adult diapers, while I was pregnant, working, and going to college and I appreciated the heck out of knowing I was helping that person have some dignity and live a better life.
7. Don't put all your self worth altogether in your work (This is the one I am reflecting on myself). It's great to take pride in your work, this is good. It's good to be proud of yourself for being independent but at the end of the day know that your character not your titles in life define who you are. This will help you when you have to work a job you don't want to just to pay the bills.
8. There is great pride in providing for your family or supporting yourself. Even if your working a job you don't feel like feeds your ego, knowing you work hard and provide for yourself should give you pride weather you are a maintenance person or the Supreme Court Judge.
9. It feels really good to know you can take care of yourself. I've worked two jobs most of my life in some form or another. It always made me feel good to know I could go out and get a job and provide for myself. I never doubted that I could get a job. I doubted it might be a great paying, prestigious job but I knew that as long as I could work I would have some sort of security. There is power in this.
10. If you need to find another job be tenacious and always make connections with people who know you. Often times work is found not by putting in applications but by who you know. Letting people know you are looking for a job is a great way to find a job. Not everything is advertised.
11. If you are unhappy make a change. Working all kinds of jobs helps you know what you like and don't like. What you are good at and what you are not good at. I was a horrible waitress (I don't multitask well). Found that one out and will check off my potential list. I'm great at personal sales, marketing and event organization. Found the later out by doing it for a living and as a volunteer. Everything you do will teach you something.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Fit as a Fiddle on a Dime in Little Time.

Being healthy is one of the most frugal things you can do.
Here we explore why and how.
Everyone knows that eating fruits and veggies is one of the keys to good health yet we have an epidemic in America of heart disease and diabetes killing us, literally killing us. And if you are lucky enough not to die you may live without your limbs as diabetes often results in the loss of limbs, blindness and loss of feeling in your feet and legs. You may have a stroke and get to live with neurological problems the rest of your life. Yet two thirds of Westerners are now considered overweight. That means that more people are overweight now than at a healthy weight. 

 I am a Solution Focused Coach and a Certified Yoga Therapist so I generally focus on the solution, so that is what we will do here. I do encourage you to focus on the why and ask yourself "Why you want to be healthy?" 
 When you ask people why they don't change you often hear "I want to be Happy". Does this mean eating bad food and being lazy are the keys to happiness. What do you think?

In third world countries that subsist on mainly grains, beans, seeds, nuts, fruits and veggies they are void of many of the cancers, heart disease , and diabetes that are killing us. They are often also void of many of the mental and digestive problems that plague us. Food can either me poison or medicine. You must choose what you put in your mouth. Garbage in, garbage out. Doctors for the most part treat the symptoms of disease not the underlying causes.

We as a nation have become more dependent on cars for transportation and the technological age means we spend more time than ever with our behinds glued to a chair. This not only results in obesity but also in many other problems that are created when movement is void in our diet. Our joints begin to hurt as we sit all day often in ways that are not ergonomically correct for our spine. Our bones which are alive need to have healthy movement patterns to stay anatomically correct. Our muscles will atrophy often causing the need for aides like walkers by the time some hit their forties. Keeping your buttock and thigh muscles fit keeps you out of a walker or using a wheelchair. Keeping your abdominal muscles and back muscles fit keeps you from having back surgery due to strain on your spine, your lumbar spine that is between your low back and upper back, we now see people in their twenties have spinal surgeries for lumbar issues. Your lumbar spine has to support your torso, arms and head, if its weak it pulls you low back and you often get bulging disc. Not moving also allows for congestion in our lymph glands, they need movement to drain our lymph fluid which is part of the plumbing system for our bodies. Our cardiovascular system moves lymph and oxygen rich blood through our bodies bringing vital nutrients to our organs. If we are static then blood volume does not get moved around and brings on a host of problems. Movement along with relaxation allows our heart rate and blood pressure to normalize. I could go on and on but you get the picture.

After the excuse that people want to be happy so that is why they eat poorly and don't exercise the next one I hear is "It is to expensive!". Is it more expensive to be sick? One stent can cost upwards are $30,000, and you often need more than one if your arteries get blocked. Open heart surgery is upwards of $100,000. to bypass those clogged arteries. This is a disease of the wealthy nations. 

Health is one of the most frugal things you can do.

10 Steps to Health on a Budget
1. Learn to cook dry beans and brown rice. It is one of the cheapest foods you can make and it is high in fiber, a complete protein and so good for you. Google some recipes or enjoy the tactile experience of a good cook book. Leave the meat out and substitute with a good vegetable broth. Start with one batch per week and have leftovers. 
2. Walk. You need nothing but comfortable shoes. Walk in your neighborhood or go to a park. Walk it's easy and free. If weather is a problem look online there are always used treadmills under $150. This may sound like a lot but this is about the cost of gym membership for a few months.
3. Learn to cook veggies that taste good. Again "Google" or look up recipes. Avoid fried veggies and go for roasted, raw, steamed, or baked. Tip if you are couponing beware that most coupons are for processed foods. You might be better to spend that time gardening.
4. Add these to your diet (Focus on adding foods instead of taking them away). These are super cheap and super healthy. Oats (In a canister easily cook in microwave. Avoid sugary packets.), Bananas, apples, oranges, potatoes with skins on, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, onions, garlic, dried beans, brown rice. 
5. Soy milk. That's right. GMO free organic soy milk. The test done on soy where from soy isolate that is a highly processed soy filler that is used in fast food and processed foods that is in your fast food hamburger. Skip the hamburger if you want to avoid it not the super healthy soy milk. GMO organic soy is a SUPER FOOD, and can seriously alter your chances of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Eat 2 servings a day. It will not raise your estrogen in this amount. You would need over forty servings a day and it still likely would not have any effect.  
6. Google "Cardio" online and find all kinds of cardio exercises you can do in your home with no equipment. You can do short sessions or long. You choose. Especially if walking is out for you. 
7. Use an app on your phone like 7 minute workout. I will confess I do short workouts often and I am a normal healthy weight with no plaque in my arteries (just got tested) and less than 1% of a chance of diabetes or heart disease, I have perfect cholesterol. I generally do 7 to 12 minutes of cardio several times a week, walk a few times a week, do yoga two to seven times a week (2 full hours and 3 to 4 five minute sessions and meditate). Most days of the week I spend 15 to 30 minutes exercising. 
8. Meditate. Use an app, get a book, sit your butt down and close your eyes and pay attention to what you hear.  You don't have to like it for it to work but I bet you will. It balances heart rate, blood pressure, hormones, and the  list goes on. The benefits are huge. I love Insight Timer on my phone. Replace 10 minutes a day (or heck do 1 minute) of news or t.v. to meditate. 
9. Squat: Do any kind that works for you (again Google how to squat) to keep your thighs and buttocks strong to keep your knees healthy and keep your legs strong so you don't atrophy your muscles. Knee problems are often due to weak thighs and buttocks. Once you start falling mortality goes way down and so does quality of life.
10. Do some kind of core (abs and back) exercise at least three to five times a week. Keep it simple like crunches, locust pose, boat pose, planks, sit ups, anything that strengthens you middle to protect your back. After you do these do some gentle twist and hugs your legs in to release your back. It takes about 5 minutes.

The benefits of eating right and exercising are health. It doesn't take more time or more money, you are just reallocating the time you already spend. You have to work more to pay to eat out that fast food meal for $10, wouldn't you rather work less and eat a healthy meal for $4. It takes less time to eat right and exercise than it does to go see the doctor and have cancer or diabetes or spend years with heart disease. You can spend 1 hour a day focused on exercise and preparing good food or you can spend 24 hours a day sick or dead. You get to choose. Life is full of choices and health should be an easy one.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Our Story About the Road to Financial Independence.

My personal story of downsizing, building, and working hard to retire early. 

I will admit that I write these as a sort of personal support system to keep myself accountable. Right now that means focusing on building a smaller house, fixing up an old farm and downsizing our possessions. It also means using extra income to pay the farm off in four years so we can retire to part time.

 It was actually easier in some sense when I was single and the money was mine alone to be responsible for. Now that Cowboy and I have combined households there are two people putting income in the bank. That also means there are two people making decisions about the income.
We are downsizing the house quite a bit, however many of you know we have purchased a 40 acre farm. Cowboy worked and saved for several years for the down-payment and about 1/3 of the out of pocket cost for the house. I built my credit and worked on paying off all my debt except my vehicle for work. We are a good team but it takes a lot of focus for two people to stay on task for a goal this big.

The term "Simple Living" is not really in Cowboys vocabulary. He likes to do all things outdoors which includes hunting, fishing, riding horses, working on the farm and camping. This includes all the big boy stuff that comes along with it.  He also is a world class martial artist so he still likes to go to tournaments and support his students and judge competitions. This all cost money. The sponsors may pay his hotel and a meal or two but we cover most of those expenses. To me this is not a simple life but it is important to him and that is what deliberate living means.

My hobbies are yoga, exercise, reading and keeping a cozy home. I also love to go out with my friends to have a nice meal and an occasional movie. These things are pretty cheap to do. Shopping is not really my thing and I struggle to spend money on anything except books, healthy food, our home and of course our kids (this one is where a lot of our money goes).

You can see pretty quick where some of the compromise comes in.

Cowboy is 58 and I am 46 at the time of writing this. He is a police officer by day and every other hour of the day he runs his roofing company.I am a yoga therapist, own a yoga school, work in a medical clinic teaching stress management, do personal and business coaching, and I am a writer (though semi paid at this point on the last one). In the past two years his business has grown exponentially. I took another job in my field last year but we did not  increase our style of living. I put all my checks in savings from the second job. We have used every extra penny to buy the farm and build the house and pay off debt.The big challenge is that we know we can't sustain working two jobs each forever. The upside is we are happy, we love our jobs and take pride in hard work. We would like to semi retire in three to four years to both working part time and fully retire at age 62 each. This plan works if you are younger as well. I've been following this way of living for many years and a I can tell you a 40 acre farm wouldn't be in the cards if I hadn't. And we don't make a ton of money. We have an average income. Very average. We both were in tough shape five years ago as we both had just gotten divorced and between us we didn't have $300. We  had some pretty good debts to get out of as well and lawyers to pay off. This has all been done with hard work, saving, and living a simple life of needs versus wants. We feel very blessed but it's not because of luck it's because of working hard and dedication to our purpose.

How are we going to do become financially independent? Well here is what I know for sure. You can make a plan but that doesn't always mean it will stick. Life happens and you must be willing to be flexible. From my many years of writing down my goals I can tell you that most of what I have ever written down has either come true of some other priority came up that became a new goal. I've always hit my goals because I stay focused on doing a little bit "often" to achieve those goals.  I believe strongly that you must have a map to know where you are going. So here I am going to share my map.

What does Financial Freedom mean to us:
1. No debt including the house.
2. The ability to live off working part time and savings.
3. The ability to save money towards retirement.
4. The freedom to do more of what we enjoy and relax more.
5. The ability to pay for anything we need out of our savings or part time income.
6. The ability to volunteer for causes that are important to us.

What we are doing to achieve Financial Freedom:
1. Have a talk with our six kids. Four of whom are young college age adults and set boundaries with what we can and cannot do.
2. Sell our house and use the equity to pay off our one debt (my car) and use that money towards finishing the work on the farm. Any balance of funds will go on the mortgage. I actually saved the money to pay off the car but we had some unexpected taxes so I've held on to it until we get moved and make sure we don't have to borrow money to finish our house.
3. After paying our bills and having our living money (food, necessities,and a nominal amount of fun money) we use any extra income that we make to pay the mortgage.
4. Not increasing our lifestyle. Still living like me make quite a bit less that we do. We have each doubled our income in five years and we still live like we make half. Even if our income hadn't increased we would have some plan for FI.

What does not increasing your lifestyle mean:
1. You live on half your income. This may mean working more for a short time to get your debts paid. You may have to start with less than half but make that your goal
2. Use all extra income first to build an emergency fund (start with $1000)
3. Pay all your debt off as quickly as possible by focusing on needs versus wants. Use all extra money to pay debt.
4. Once your debt is paid save three to six months income for your needs and a bit extra for emergencies.
5. Create a life that is sustainable for a work - life balance.
6. Live below your means. Just because you make good money doesn't mean you have to increase the size of your house or buy a new car.
7. Let go of what others think about you. Don't try to keep up with others expectations of what it means to be rich (they are probably drowning in debt, you don't have to).

Basic ideas to support financial freedom: 
1. Live in less of a house that you can afford.
2. Drive a good, reliable economical used car.
3. Don't shop unless you need something.
4. Take care of your health by eating fruits and veggies and exercising often.
5. Drink water over anything else that cost money including bottled water. Buy a water filter and make your own bottled water. I reuse glass bottles from other things we buy.
6. Make outfits with what you already own and only buy what you need when you go shopping. Be aware of your needs before you leave the house.
7. Keep a tidy house, yard and car. The desire to have more is often do to a lack of taking care of what you have.
8. When you go out to eat share a meal, order soup and salad and water. Eat light. *Props to my friend Gayla for this idea!
9. Utilize your parks and outdoor spaces over a gym. Use videos online to workout at home. Google things like "Strength training or Cardio without equipment". You will be amazed!
10. Utilize great deals in your community. Tuesday is $4 movie night at a local theater and popcorn and coke is about $2. This cost us about 1/4 of going another night.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

How to get motivated and make choices inline with your purpose (goals).

Here are 10 questions to help you align with your purpose.

I base this on my belief and personal testing of this process with myself and many clients. Inside each of us is the  "source" that knows what we need. Sometimes we need someone to facilitate us finding the "knower" and asking the right questions.

  1. What are you grateful for?
  2. What would you say your priorities are?
  3. How do you spend your time? Look at your calendar 
  4. How do you spend your money? Look at your bank statement or receipts.Or ponder.
  5. What are your goals in 3 months 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, and twenty years?
  6. For each time frame write down three things in logical order you need to do to reach your goal.
  7. Now sit back and pick one goal and visualize yourself at the completion of this goal. Who if anyone is there? What are you wearing? What are the sounds you hear? What are the smells and taste associated with this place (would you be eating something)? What do you see around you? What do you feel inside at this place of completion or life goal?
  8. It is important to use your senses to train your subconscious mind to start doing these things automatically. Once you have an idea of this then visualize what each part of that goal would be. Example: Be healthier and  Lower Cholesterol in three months. Step 1 : Find 10 recipes and make a food plan based on foods that lower cholesterol. Step 2  Go to the grocery store and buy food. Step 3 . Prepare and follow the meal plan.
    This will change how you spend your time as you will be doing these steps and will have to replace something else you do like eating out or driving through drive throughs, this will change how you spend your money as well. 
  9. This applies to all aspects of life. You can do these for financial, relationships, health, spirituality, etc. For each goal make a bullet list. Example
    Goal : Financial
    Have 1000 dollars saved in 3 months: 1. Have a yard sale 2. Sell my clothes at resale 3. Don't shop and put back $300 a month that I would spend on going out and shopping. 
  10. Are you spending your money and your time in line with your goals and priorities? How would you change your time and financial choices based on these findings. 
Remember the little things happen every day, the big things only once in awhile. They all matter. Today is truly yesterday's tomorrow. What will your tomorrow look like? Only you can steer that ship.
Love and Light,

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

It's a lot about what your not doing.

How to save money by not doing stuff.
 I just came home from the grocery store after attending a yoga class and sat down with some chicken salad, tea and crackers for lunch.
Here is what I didn't do.

1. I didn't pay for the yoga class because I bartered with my friend who is a yoga teacher for yoga classes for a certain amount of pay when she subs mine, or we will just trade out on subbing. 
2. I didn't call a friend to go out to lunch. I didn't have a fancy lunch or a fancy breakfast. 
3. This morning I didn't go through a drive through and get breakfast. I simply used what I had to make a rather filling shake of oatmeal, soymilk, flax meal, frozen bananas. 
4. We didn't buy the camper my honey called about and wanted. We did have a little talk about our priorities (he understood). We also had a talk about borrowing his Dad's camper since I haven't seen it move in 5 years. 
5. Today I won't go to the expensive gym but I will walk outside for 20 minutes. 
6. Tonight  I won't go out for dinner today but I will make a big salad with the groceries I purchased from the store. (We do go out but not as much anymore).
7. Today I won't go shopping for clothes or anything else I don't need. I will go to my closet and put together 10 outfits tonight so I can easily find something to wear. 
8. I won't go buy any new decorations for my house but I will clean my house when I get home.
9. I won't go and pay for new music but I will use the Prime account I have to listen to some "Bread" or "70's" hits on my Alexa Dot that was a gift from a friend while cleaning with some awesome twinkle lights leftover from Christmas and some cheap candles I have accumulated. 
10. We won't go out to do anything extra curricular (though we do sometimes but not often) but we will watch NetFlix or Amazon Prime (we use that membership well) and we won't pay for cable. Last night we ate a cheap dinner at a local cafe and went to the Tuesday night deal of a movie for two with popcorn and a drink for $13.21. 

It is often the daily choices we make that save us money. It is not so much the big stuff. 
When making choices in life it helps to know what your priorities are and your purpose and align your choices with that purpose (more to come on that). 

Love and Light,