Posts Tagged ‘finance education’

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Telling The Truth

January 5, 2011

Many experiences in my career explain my evolution to becoming a “Money Wise Woman.” My tenure at Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC), my time at the financial helm of CARES, an agency that I helped grow from $500,000 to $3 million in three years, and the past 13 years I’ve advised, coached and counseled hundreds on their business and personal finances at Creating Answers.

For Financial Clarity, Tell the TruthBut those experiences aren’t why I’m a Money Wise Woman. There was a point in my life that I awoke to the fact that I had placed myself in serious financial trouble, and that’s when I started telling the truth about it.

Even with all I knew, and no matter how hard I tried to get myself out of it, for whatever reason, I couldn’t. That’s when I started seeking more answers. And not just from fellow financial professionals, but from coaches, mentors and counselors. And that’s when I had my big “ah ha” moment, when I realized what keeps so many people stuck in their financial lives.

We don’t tell the truth. We don’t talk about money, so we have no opportunity to tell the truth about it. There are few places to go when you feel stuck with your money and don’t know what to do. When you’re a financial professional, it’s even scarier. I was stuck in denial, fear, shame and blame. Having the courage to start telling the truth made all the difference in the world.

For years, I had many clients who didn’t want to take the time to talk to me about their money. I was their accountant, and it just wasn’t a priority for them. Now it’s a cornerstone of my practice that every client talks to us about their finances every month. It makes a marked difference in their financial clarity, and their financial peace.

My advice to those of you who feel stuck in some area of your financial life: Talk to someone consistently and productively. Your bookkeeper, your accountant, a coach, a trusted mentor, a trusted colleague. Draw a circle of support around you, tell the truth, and create some accountability in your financial life. It will make all the difference.

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15 Days til New Year’s Eve…The Time is Now

December 16, 2010

Countdown to New Year'sWhile everyone else is busy counting days until Christmas, accountants are busy counting days until New Year’s Eve. And here’s why:

Do you itemize your deductions? If yes, look at your spending plan for charitable contributions. You have 15 days to maximize your gifts. Plus your favorite nonprofits are busily trying to meet their year-end goals, so gifts that come in during December are hugely appreciated! Have you spent out your Health/Flexible Spending Accounts? Now is the time.

Are you a business owner? If yes (and you file cash basis) then every dollar you spend in the next 15 days saves you in the neighborhood of 25 to 40 cents. Our advice to clients at year end: Any equipment you plan to buy in the next six months, buy it now. Any bills scheduled to pay at the beginning of January? Pay them now. And on the income side, for every dollar you put in the bank, you’ll be sending 25 to 40 cents to the IRS on April 15th. This is the one time of year you ease up on your receivables calls, slow down your invoicing process, walk to the bank very slowly.

And for my nonprofit clients? You have 15 days to maximize contributions for the year. Call one key donor every day until the 31st. You can ask for support, or just wish them a happy holiday and thank them for their support. Craft one last personal email solicitation. People want to give this time of year, and it’s your job to remind them.

Happy New Year!

(The accountant’s disclaimer: this is clearly generalized advice. It’s something to be discussed with your trusted advisor. If you don’t have a trusted advisor, we know some great ones!)

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2011: Is your plan in place?

December 10, 2010

Winter is a time of reflection, both personally and for our businesses. How did this past year go? Did I meet my goals? Um, did I have goals? What do I want next year to look like? What do I have to do to get there?

At Creating Answers, it is the time of year we are busy working with all of our clients on 2011 goals and budgets. It is one of my favorite times of the year because you get to do two really fun things: analyze how last year went, and draw the financial road map to follow next year. It’s financial art at its most fun.

If you think of this work as a chore, I invite you to reframe your beliefs about planning and numbers. I invite you to think of it as a game, or a puzzle. Make it a date with yourself. Go to your favorite coffee house, or pour yourself a bottle of fine wine. And then…start asking yourself questions.

What percentage of your total income goal did you reach this year? 120%? Great! 85%? Not so great. What do you need to do differently in 2011? What amount of marketing dollars would have closed that 15% gap? Do you need to increase your networking time? Upsell existing clients? Raise your prices?

“If you think of this work as a chore, I invite you to reframe your beliefs about planning and numbers.”

Take a look at your discretionary areas of spending? How much did you spend on marketing and advertising? What were the financial results? Professional development? Results? Equipment? Results?

How much did you spend on staffing and/or outside consultants? Did they work at capacity? Did you generate revenue from your staff? How much? A great rule of thumb to start with is three times their cost.

While it is difficult to assign numbers to each of those questions, the exercise of trying will create answers. What if you spent nothing in each of those areas? What if you spent three times as much?

Most importantly, don’t overdo the process. It’s more effective to do a really thorough look at your 15 most critical spending areas consistently than it is to look at all 60 of the expense accounts you have in Quickbooks. (And if you have 60 expense accounts in Quickbooks, you should give us a call!)

Find out more about what we do at http://CreatingAnswers.com.

Here’s to a prosperous new year full of financial clarity!

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Holiday Financial Clarity

November 24, 2010

Manage Holiday Spending

Want financial clarity for the holidays?

Entertaining, stocking stuffers, extra travel expenses, cookies for the neighbors, decorations, office holiday party gifts, holiday grocery shopping and of course, presents… these are just a smattering of expenses that are about to edge their way into your spending plan over the next several weeks.

Whether you’ve been saving all year, plan to squeeze it into your regular monthly spending, plan to not partake in any of it, or have a credit card you use for the holidays, now is a good time to make a plan. Even if you don’t stick to your plan completely, just spending the time to fill out this handy holiday plan will provide you a road map for the trip you are about to take.

What are your priorities? What are your limits? What are your expectations?  How do you feel about the money you’ve spent during past holidays?  What could you do differently? And a favorite question from our Financial Boot Camps, what would your hero do?

 Print the “Manage Your Holiday Spending” guide from the AFSA Education Foundation. Take a walk, think it over, journal the above questions if you’d like, then get a pencil and a calculator and make your plan!

And… enjoy the season.

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Stories Are Gifts… Share!

November 17, 2010

Starbucks has a new tagline on their holiday cups: Stories are gifts…..share. What a great reminder that sometimes the most meaningful gifts don’t cost money. As we near the season of gift giving, I hope that this sentiment is taken to heart.

What if we all gave the gift of a story this year?

I heard that stores are opening not just at 5am on Black Friday, but on Thanksgiving Day itself. One more step toward the commercialization of what is meant to be a time of family, friendship, and for many, faith.

When people talk to me about the holidays, they often talk about the season with a sense of financial dread, or disappointment in themselves that they didn’t set aside a holiday fund…again, or about the credit card bill they know will be coming in January. They talk about not wanting to disappoint their children, about the expectations placed on them in their workplace, or about “this is how my family has always done it.”

If you hear yourself in any of the above, make a commitment to do it differently this year. Completely different, or just a little different. Here are some ideas:

  • Give the gift of a story: the day your child was born; a fun experience with a good friend; how a coworker has inspired you.
  • Give the gift of an experience, rather than a thing: a walk along the river; a Sunday morning brunch; a drive to the mountains.
  • Give the gift of memories: old family pictures; old family movies; old family recipes. (One of my most treasured gifts is a recipe book from my mother of favorite recipes and notes with each one about which family friend first introduced us to the recipe.)
  • Get your family to draw names. Or better yet, my unique neighbors instituted a family tradition of CrapMas. They each scour their homes for items that they no longer use, but know that someone else might find of value, and then do a sort of live auction based on who declares they need it or want it the most. They have great, great fun with it.
  • Give the gift of service: spend the holiday serving others at a homeless shelter.
  • Give the gift of self-esteem. I asked some important people in my daughter’s life to share a word or a sentence about how people see her, and then I compiled them in a book. $8 at ritz.com and….priceless.

What ideas do you have?

 Stories Are Gifts...Share