I’ll be honest. The idea that “change is good” will always be a work in progress for me.
It’s been 6 months since my last blog post and I’m feeling rather disappointed in myself for leaving my readers hanging.
Let me explain…
After a fabulous 5 week holiday in Costa Rica earlier this year, I returned home to find a rather upsetting scenario with my elderly mother. Mom has always been healthy (or so we thought), fiercely independent, full of common sense and never wanting/accepting help from anyone. Now, at 89 years old, some things MUST change!
I guess it shouldn’t have caught my sisters and I by surprise. You see, longevity runs in our family. We discovered that Mom had been alone in her home without ANY heat for almost 2 weeks during the coldest part of the winter. And that was just the beginning. I jumped into action and at the same time realized the deteriorating state of Mom’s health & decision-making abilities.
Why didn’t she reach out to us for help? Why was she ever so determined to insist that nothing was wrong? The last few months have been a whirlwind of hospital and specialist visits, new medications and planning for the inevitable (but not wanted) move to a seniors residence.
During this time, I’ve also done some soul-searching, reflecting on my own priorities, passions and even my mortality.
Change Is Good
Moving forward, it’s time to refocus on my financial coaching practice (my greatest passion) at the expense of my blog.
Life really is short and I want to spend my time interacting with real people and real challenges (not my computer keyboard).
I’m committed, as ever, to bringing financial education to everyday people and hope to do some volunteering in that arena. I’ll leave my blog in place for new readers/learners and those looking for a personal finance coach. The content is mostly timeless and finance education is still sadly lacking in our schools and workplaces. It never hurts to revisit ways to get motivated, curb debt, increase savings, control spending or grow wealth.
Financial independence is definitely a goal worth shooting for.
Thanks for being a regular reader! I hope I’ve inspired you, in some small way, to take action and better care of your financial health .
If you or someone you know is looking for help with their personal finances, please consider contacting me. I’d love to help!
Happy New Year Readers and Clients!
Do you have a year-end money routine? If not, maybe you should?
It’s one of the first things I like to do once I toast in the new year with a glass of champagne. I know, I should “get a life”, but I can’t help myself.
I’ve always loved to dive deep into numbers…it’s not the data that intrigues me but, rather, what it means to my life and choices. Can my husband and I afford to travel to a more exotic destination this year? What about replacing our second car or the front porch? Reviewing lessons learned from the prior year helps set us up for success.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be revealing my “accountant-like” behaviour and thought processes with my own finances.
Whether you like it (or not), I hope it helps you understand the value of taking time to debrief your financial life. If you can’t/won’t do it yourself, get help from a professional- it’s time and money well spent.
Getting a handle on our money makes a real difference to our happiness and relationships. Money is one of the biggest stressors in our lives. Yet, so many of us procrastinate when it comes to improving our financial health (it’s just not that much FUN or URGENT!). Far easier to ignore it than face it. We tell ourselves that things will improve once we get that long-deserved raise or new job.
Here are a few financial tasks I do religiously each year…
1) Update our net worth statement (i.e. assets less liabilities)- In theory, it should be growing each year. In reality, it doesn’t always happen that way!
2) Review our overall 2015 spending/savings vs. plan– What “surprises” did we encounter and how did they impact our spending? Did we do a great job, fail miserably or hit somewhere in between?
3) Revisit our life & spending goals– What’s new? What’s changed or needs to change? Does the timeline make sense? Are we on track to achieving our most important priorities or is the gap getting bigger?
4) Review our investment portfolio – Ok, this is really a job for our investment advisor but I like to do my own high level analysis too (I told you I like numbers)! Another set of eyes never hurts. How did our portfolio do vs. the overall market or other benchmarks?
5) Build our 2016 spending/savings plan– This is a pretty easy exercise for us (as we have a good base to start from). I’m very aware of the nature & amount of our fixed expenses. While I don’t get hung up on the details of our discretionary spending, I DO pay close attention to the total amount available.
6) Minimize (or optimize) taxes– Income taxes are a substantial expense (and often neglected by many). Am I doing what I can to reduce our taxes (now & in the future)? Starting to prepare our 2015 tax returns now helps me identify some planning opportunities that I don’t want to miss out on.
For you “non-financial” types, this exercise might sound overwhelming?
It doesn’t need to be.
Tackle it bit by bit. Review the areas where you think you have the biggest gaps. Target the actions that will make the biggest difference to your financial future. Even tiny steps, over a long period of time, can make a real impact on your financial situation. Perfection or precision isn’t mandatory- it’s the thinking and action that matters.
Make 2016 the year you make progress (large or small) on improving your financial health
P.S.- I’m always here to help!
One for gifts for my kids/husband, another for the in-laws, yet another for next week’s holiday dinner (we won’t go into the rest). It feels SO GOOD to finally cross items off, one by one (or two or five), until there’s nothing left. Now, let the REAL holidays begin!
Thought you might appreciate yet another list at this time of year…one that you don’t need to “cross off”. Just a handy little reference guide for your money that will never go out of style or season.
Written by Morgan Housel (from The Motley Fool), this list is a quick, easy read that’s witty and full of wisdom. Skim it or keep it for future reference. If you don’t have time now, pull it out in the new year. It’s a common sense reminder to make you smarter with money- what a priceless gift for the holidays!
Enjoy and have a wonderful holiday season!
(Note- this post was originally published December 2014)
Proud founder of this blog Let’s Talk About Money, Patricia Gass, CPA, CA, provides personal finance coaching and education to improve your money skills. Follow her on linkedin, twitter or pinterest
Image courtesy of lifehack.org
As Financial Literacy Month in Canada draws to a close, remember that the learning should never stop.
With the holiday season upon us, why not treat yourself to some financial smarts BEFORE hitting the stores? Do you (or your loved ones) really need more “stuff” this year? Or is it your presence (not presents) that matters most?
Here are a few quick and easy quizzes (originally published earlier this year) to test your money knowledge.
Give them a try (or re-try) and see how you do. They might even help keep your behaviour in check as you search for the perfect gifts for your favourite people?
Giving is a wonderful thing! Just make sure you can afford it. Don’t let the magic of the season play havoc with your finances!
Enjoy the holiday season!
Photo courtesy of giftofknowledge.co.nz
A good friend returned from her Paris getaway just a few days before the despicable acts of terror. What is she thinking? Was she close to the stadium, concert hall or cafes affected?
How does one move forward after experiencing or witnessing such a tragedy and loss of life? I can only hope that money is the last thing on the minds of the citizens of Paris and their loved ones. If it isn’t, it should be.
Life unfolds in ways that are hard to imagine
Tragic events remind of us of what’s really important (and it definitely isn’t money). It’s the many things we take for granted day in and day out. A beautiful sunny day, a walk in the park, children laughing and playing, a visit with an old friend. I want to remember these words next time I fret about my own, seemingly small problems.
Hope For The Best, Plan For The Worst
You can bet the citizens of Paris never thought in their wildest dreams that such unspeakable things could happen to them. Who would?
Obviously, planning for horrific events is neither feasible nor imaginable. However, taking care of the “basics” in advance can make a difference in our ability to cope and bounce back from adversity when it strikes.
For me, the “basics” are things like paying attention to my mental/physical health, family/relationships, managing risks and yes, even my financial resources. Having my finances in “good working order” allows me to sleep better, worry less and focus on things (expected or unexpected) that matter most!
My heart (and head) is with Paris this week and I think it will be for quite some time.
Photo: One of my own, favourite paintings- Artist Rendition of The Champs Elysees
Why is financial literacy such common sense yet VERY difficult to practice?
Because we need to get (at least) 3 things right;
knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions
Let me add a 4th; motivation.
Without the motivation to act, even the best knowledge, skills and confidence are wasted!
In my experience, it’s confidence and motivation that trip people up the most.
The “soft” skills not the “hard” ones. Why save for retirement now when it’s 30 years away? Why not buy a bigger house or start the reno today while my family’s still young? A little more debt isn’t going to hurt us, right? Why bother investing when my income is so small? There are too many investments to choose from so I’ll just leave my money in the bank.
Valid points (but poor excuses).
It’s much easier to dig ourselves INTO a financial hole than out of it. Ask anyone who’s been there and they’ll tell you the initial fun was not worth the ultimate pain.
The simple act of talking about money can make a positive difference.
Sure, money is a touchy subject but we can discuss it in appropriate ways. Sharing the highs and lows of our own money stories really helps- we’ve all made our share of money mistakes! Learning how attitudes and emotions impact our behaviour towards money can shed light on why we do what we do with money (even when it doesn’t make sense). Do I spend money to cheer myself up after a bad day? Do I spend on things that matter to me (or do I even pay attention)? Do I have the right balance between spending today and investing for tomorrow? Does my upbringing affect the way I handle money?
Here’s yet another dilemma…
When it comes to personal finance, sometimes people don’t know what they don’t know.
Tough to ask for help if we don’t know we need it!?
Consider an investment in education- read, learn or tap into the many available resources out there. Just make sure the source is respected and objective.
Alternatively, Professionals can fill the knowledge/behaviour gap but WE must be ready to listen and act. For example, simple strategies to save tax can increase our wealth over time. Reducing our annual investment and debt costs (or tapping into “free” money) will do the same. Many of these actions feel painless once we start and get used to them.
Can you relate to any of these ideas?
Most people can, myself included. There’s always more to learn or do differently in the world of personal finance. But don’t mistake learning for complexity. We can all improve our finances AND still keep things simple. Strategies, like making the most of compound interest, are easy and timeless.
If you think you can take better care of your finances, please start NOW. Read, learn, think, review or enlist help. Wouldn’t it be great to stop worrying about money?
Keep your questions coming!
As mentioned in last week’s post, I’m answering all your personal finance questions this month. Please drop me a note and I’ll respond.
November Is Financial Literacy Month In Canada (& I couldn’t be happier)!
Financial Literacy is all about
having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions.
Funny how we need an actual month to put the spotlight on personal finances. Shouldn’t we be watching our money all year long? I suppose November makes good sense…if we get smarter this month, maybe we’ll spend less for the holidays? Or, find ways to save tax before year-end? If we reduce our mortgages now while interest rates are low, we might find extra cash for our RRSP contribution in February. Maybe we can afford the winter vacation this year after all? One can always hope.
The great news in the world of financial literacy is that people are paying more attention to their finances than ever before. There are many organizations to thank for that- media, governments, non-profits, schools, the financial industry and more. The not so great news is that most of us can still do better at improving our financial health.
Achieving financial freedom or independence is a worthwhile goal at any age. Life is better and less stressful when we build enough wealth to live the way we want. More options and choices become available when we no longer need to work like a slave for our paycheque. How nice would it be to pursue your real passion without regard to it’s income-earning potential?
My Promise To You…
Q&A All Month Long, Starting NOW!
To celebrate Financial Literacy Month again this year, I’m answering all your personal finance questions. I DO promise to share my knowledge, experience and objectivity (I don’t promise that you’ll always like my answer?!). If I don’t know the answer, I’ll tell you (not fake it).
There aren’t many of us who can say that helping people learn about money is our passion!
Send me your questions using the Contact Page of this blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All Q&A’s will be kept strictly confidential (unless otherwise instructed).
Hope I can help you learn more about money and make a positive difference in your financial lives!