Posts Tagged ‘Monthly Review’

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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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An Extraordinary Connection with Your Business’ Finances

July 1, 2010

I love financial tools! Excel, Quickbooks and Microsoft Money are just fun. Today’s software lets me fly creatively when I’m trying to help a client understand how their business is doing, what’s working, and what’s not.

But as with most things there is a flip side to the amazing software we have at our fingertips. Quickbooks, meant to bring simplicity to accounting, easily becomes a behemoth, spitting out 3 page reports that no one could understand or connect with. And that is the point, the goal, of accounting: to connect with your finances. It’s not all about filing your tax return at the end of the year. It’s about understanding your business and the financial impact of your decisions and activities. Your numbers should tell you a story, a story that you feel connected to.

My first experience with accounting was at 19, bookkeeping for my family’s business, the The Buz Buszek Fly Shop. I used ledger paper. I don’t feel old enough to be saying that, but I guess I am. Today, one of my tenets for those who are having a difficult time connecting with their finances  is to pull out the old ledger paper.

The Old Fashioned Way

I’m not suggesting you literally do your accounting on ledger paper. What I do mean, though, is to get a pencil out, and a calculator, and a piece of paper. Write down, every single month, the 8 to 12 numbers that are really important to you. Not the 50 or 100 numbers that Quickbooks is telling you. Just the 8 to 12 numbers that help you feel connected to your business.

If you’d like to learn more about having an extraordinary connections with your finances, I’m being interviewed by Marcia Brixey on July 6th at 11:30am as a part of her Money Wise Women Get Smart Teleseminar Series. You can participate by signing up at:

www.moneywisewomengetsmart.com/upcoming.html

You’ll also find a lot of great past teleseminars you can listen to. A personal favorite of mine is Mikelann Valterra’s interview  “Earn at Your Potential: Embracing the Seven Challenges.”

Happy learning!

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Late charge, latte charge, at least you’ll know.

June 21, 2010

$3.35 a day

Microsoft Money has this cool new tagline: “Late charge, latte charge, at least you’ll know.” I love it.

When you’re an accountant, people talk to you about their money. Not just your clients, but your friends, relatives, acquaintances, and even people you stand next to waiting in line. It’s kind of fun, because its this secret little window into peoples’ worlds that most don’t ever get to see.

So why do I like Microsoft’s tagline? Because the overwhelming first step to tackling one’s money issues is know how much money is coming in, how much is going out, and where it’s going. Most people have no idea. Even those that use software like Quicken or Money often still have very little idea. They can look it up, but they don’t know. I must admit that there was a point in my life that I realized I was tracking all the data, but not often enough to really use the information in a constructive way. More on that later.

$39 a month

There is an axiom that goes: “What we measure, we accomplish.”

If you have financial discomfort in your life, start measuring. If you’re measuring and still have discomfort, take a step back and look at how you’re doing it. Shake it up; try it a different way. If it’s still not working, check out our Financial Boot Camps. You’ll make movement there; we guarantee it.

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The Perfect Recordkeeping System

June 9, 2010

“We never do anything well until we cease to think about the manner of doing it.” – William Hazlitt

The allegory of the centipede makes the point nicely: asked how it knew which of its hundred feet to use when, the creature found itself unable to move. I am frequently asked what I think is the best way to do recordkeeping, file your financial information, which is the best software to use, should I do it by hand or use Quicken or Microsoft Money or Excel, do I have to use Quickbooks, etc, etc. My answer is the same as Nike’s: Just do it!

It’s not that I don’t have opinions about the best way to do it. (Anyone that knows me knows I have opinions!) It’s just that when someone asks me that question, its not usually because they’re trying to refine and make better a system they are already using. The people that ask me that question aren’t using a system at all, and they’re waiting until they have a perfect system to start using it.

If you recognize yourself in this post, my suggestion is to pick the easiest system you can think of, do it consistently and with reverence for 3 months, and then evaluate how it worked.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some ideas. Pick one:

  1. If you’re starting from scratch, get a little notebook and write down everything you spend. Everything. Then, twice a month, total your spending in some broad categories. No more than 12.
  2. If you’re using financial software (Quicken, etc.) but you still feel you aren’t doing it right, or you don’t KNOW your numbers, make acommitment to update it once/week. Once updated, write by hand, on a piece of paper,your monthly spending in each of your major categories.
  3. Try the old fashioned coffee can approach. Dole out at the beginning of the month into separate envelopes your monthly spending plan for groceries, eating out, entertainment and any other area of discretionary spending. If a month is too long, use a paperclip and post-it note to identify the 1st – 15th and 16th-31st spending.

    Perfect Envelopes (top); Done is Better than Perfect Envelopes (bottom)

Ok, now that you’ve picked one, just do it, don’t think about how you could do it better, just do it for 3 months. At the end of 3 month, let me know what you picked, how it worked, and how you’re going to make it a little better for your next 3 months.

Consistently, and with reverence!

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Our collective moment of financial clarity

April 15, 2010

Some people think of April 15th as an icky day. I see it as our collective moment of financial clarity. Tax day is the one day that we all know exactly how much our businesses earned, or didn’t earn, last year. Want even more clarity? Take a quiet moment and do this exercise:

Want monthly clarity? Subscribe to our blog and we’ll send you a packet of 12 Monthly Clarity Cards. Want even more clarity? Contact us for a 30 minute complimentary session, and we’ll walk through the results of your Annual Clarity Card with you.

Some people think of April 15th as an icky day. I see it as our collective moment of financial clarity. Tax day is the one day that we all know exactly how much our businesses earned, or didn’t earn, last year. Would you like even more clarity? Take a quiet moment and do this exercise:
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Finance meetings every month?? What would we talk about??

March 28, 2010

I was having a frank conversation with a prospect the other day. He loved our business model, especially the concept of having someone take more than an accountant or bookkeeper’s interest in his business. He loved that there would be another person looking at his financials, his marketing activities, and his human resource management. He loved that he would have someone available so that he could just pick up the phone and ask a financial question.

His biggest concern, though, was that we require monthly meetings. “What on earth would we talk about every month?” I hope I didn’t offend him when I laughed.

What was so funny? He just filed bankruptcy on his last rather large business. And not to be outdone, it was a rather spectacular bankruptcy. Of course, it’s not funny that he had to file bankruptcy. I’m certain that for most, bankruptcy is a devastating financial and emotional experience. But it is funny that he didn’t see the correlation between that business’ downward spiral and how it might have looked different if he had hired us four years ago.

Businesses are closing down for a lot of reasons right now. The economy is certainly one of them, but it’s the rare business that can say 100% of the reason lies with the economy. If you have had a financial person watching your back, they’ve steered you to put aside reserves, to lay off employees, to trim the fat, to raise your prices, to market more, not less, and most importantly, to not leverage your business to the point of no return.

If you’re talking to your accountant once a year, or once a quarter, that’s not enough. They are seeing what is happening to your business, but they probably aren’t helping you make better decisions. Ask them what it would look like if they talked to you more frequently.

Bankruptcy is expensive; monthly financial meetings, priceless.