Elle Couple Money

 

It’s great to welcome Elle from Couple Money this week for our weekly Simple Inspiration Interview.

Elle has been blogging about marriage and finances for a little over seven years, but she recently launched the Couple Money Podcast to provide another resource for couples looking to build their finances together.

Most money fights are more than the money. It’s about our perspectives, values, and goals. Each week on her podcast they tackle a money topic – paying off massive amounts of debt, surviving a layoff, or getting ready for a baby – with segments and try to include an interview and/story with a couple who has succeeded.

Every marriage has its own DNA, so on the show they look for the principles that can be applied.

Too many times, we read that money is one of the biggest stressors on relationships, but money can be a tool to help couples work together.  I recommend couples download an episode or two of Couple Money Podcast for a listen.  I am sure you will pick up a tip or two to help better manage your finances as a couple.

Let’s hear how Elle and her husband have been able to simplify their finances.

What event lead you to simplify your finances?

Getting engaged was the catalyst for me. My fiance and I agreed that it was important that the two of us get together and have a ‘money talk’ and share our finances so we could be on the same page.

I think both of us came in thinking we had very similar takes on money since neither one of us appeared to be a big spender. I was a working college student and he was in his first post graduation job.

However when we talked I discovered that while I had some credit card debt, a car loan, and picked up some student loans, he was pretty debt free. He had a small student loan (one semester’s worth), but he had budgeted it to be paid off as soon as the grace period was over.

Needless to say, it made me realize that there was a different way to handle my finances.

What area of your financial life needed the most simplification?

Considering the situation, I knew that I needed to simplify my budget, specifically my expenses. With my limited budget, I felt like it would be wise to eliminate some of expenses so I’d have a budget buffer.

Since the wedding was at the end of the year, I made it a personal goal to pay off my credit cards by the time I was married.

It was a great way to get the ball rolling for me and to be better prepare for when we had a joint budget.

What steps have you taken to simplify your financial life?

One of the first big decisions we made as a couple was to keep our necessary expenses under one income. Since I was starting an internship and had no idea how long it would last, we based on it on my husband’s income.

We used my paycheck to pay off debts and build savings.

Having this system meant that we carefully considered our regular expenses. For example, when we were hunting for an apartment, we had to make some hard choices as to what was the important for us.

We couldn’t live in the more popular neighborhoods, but that didn’t mean we wanted to go for the cheapest spot. We found a small two building apartment complex that an older couple owned that was fairly convenient for work/school and it was right by the beach. A win for us that we probably would’ve missed if we didn’t have this budget system.

With our busy schedules we also decided we would automate our bill payments, debt snowball, and savings as possible.

As soon as the money was deposited into the checking account it was scheduled to go out to the various accounts. No temptation to spend the money.

What was your biggest challenge or roadblock when it came simplifying?

It may sound silly, but for me I had to get used to saying ‘no’ to invitations. None of my college friends were spending extravagant amounts, but if I said yes to all of them we would be broke.

After a bit, though, I realized that I could hangout with friends, I just had to be more careful. I discovered some new spots that had fantastic happy hour specials, I became more proactive on seeing what free or cheap events were going on around town, and I got better with cooking so we could have friends over for dinners.

What app or tool helped you the most when it came to simplifying?

When we were first starting out, the biggest help was bill pay through our bank. I know some couples may find it obvious, but I can not overstate how important it was to automate our finances.

I like to compare it to not having junk food in the house when you’re develop better eating habits. By having the money transferred to savings or being swept out quickly to pay bills and debts, we didn’t have as many slip-ups.

Seeing the wins, encouraged us (especially me) to find more ways to save and cut back on spending. We simply adjusted the amounts in 5-10 minutes and grew the debt snowball.

As we decided to track our progress, Mint was a huge help in that it pulled all the data quickly and easily for us.

It helped us with our monthly budget dates as it allowed us to see how we were really spending.

How has simplifying changed your life?

Not surprisingly, simplifying has removed a lot of stress in our marriage. We’re able to focus on our goals and talk about how we want to achieve them without fighting about the budget.

Simplifying our finances has also spilled over into other areas. We’re more content with what we have and consider carefully before we make big purchases.

Are there any areas of your finances that you still need to simplify?

Our next big goal is simplifying our financial obligations so my husband has the option to work from home. It involves a few steps:

• Paying off the student loan in 2015 (our last non-mortgage debt)
• Sell our current home and find a new place that will give us lower monthly housing expenses
• Build up savings to test out the work transition

Like most couples we’re working our goals while life is happening (having our second child soon!) so we’re taking it piece by piece.

What advice or tips would you give to others who want to simplify their finances?

I would say sit down and talk about your goals. What do you really want? Pick a short term goal (something you can accomplish in a year or less) and just focus on that.

It’s so easy to get motivated and want to make big changes everywhere, but you’re more likely to stick it out if you put your energy into one thing.

For couples, please keep encouraging one another. Yes, it’s about money, but more importantly this is about improving your marriage. Communication and support are necessary ingredients.

What advice would you give to couples who want to simplify but have different financial philosophy?

From personal experience I would suggest finding one mutual goal to work on – such as trimming back on spending 10% – and allow each person to come up with his/her method for achieving that.

I spoke with a woman whose husband was completely on board with getting out of debt, but didn’t want to follow Dave Ramsey’s baby steps system.

Instead of bickering over what they disagreed on, they approached it with something they were comfortable with. He had some great ideas on cutting back on the budget and she went ahead with Dave’s system. Eventually they go to the point where they saw the pros for each method.

Even though you’re a couple, you have to respect one another’s differences. Change is a process and even more complicated with two people involved.

Thanks Elle for sharing how you have simplified your finances and offering some tips on how others can simplify as well. If you would like to hear more great advice on how to handle your finances as a couple be sure to download an episode of Couple Money Podcast and read her Couple Money blog.  You can also follow her on Twitter .

To read previous interviews in the series click Simple Inspiration Interviews.

If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.

Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.

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Simple Financial Lifestyle Do you have Financial Plan 2

Have you designed your financial game plan so you can achieve the financial goals you set for yourself?

As you are probably are aware, this year’s Super Bowl teams are set. The Seattle Seahawks will face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 49. I am hoping for a better game this year compared to last year’s dominating performance by Seahawks.

The past week the two teams have prepared for the big game by practicing their game plan that they designed to win the Super Bowl. Each team has studied each others’ strengths and weaknesses and designed a plan to win the game. Seattle is looking to stop Tom Brady and his potent offense while New England is looking for ways to exploit the tough Seattle defense.

Just like each of the two Super Bowl teams have their game plan to win the game. If you want to simplify your finances you should design your own personal financial game plan. While the two teams in the Super Bowl have 60 minutes to execute their game plan to win. You on the other hand have more than 60 minutes to execute your game plan.

First you want to identify what your financial objective or goal is. This should be identified before you design your game plan so you can put the best plan in place to win.

Once you have identified your objective and goals you want to achieve its now time to put your game plan in place.

The key to winning any game football or financial is to score more points than your opponent by fielding an offense which can score points while having a solid defense that can  prevent the other team from scoring.

Here are a three Offensive and Defensive keys you should consider when designing your financial game plan

Financial Offensive Keys to the Game

Accumulate Yards to score points

In the game of football, you want your offense to accumulate yards to drive down the field to score touchdowns or field goals. In the Super Bowl each team will have specific plays designed to gain yards. Some plays are designed for short yardage situations while others are designed for long yardage situations.

The same is true regarding your personal finances. One key to financial success is to accumulate wealth by saving money. Designing your short term and long term saving plans will help you to accumulate your wealth which will score you some financial points.

Don’t Get Sacked

Both Super Bowl teams will try to protect their quarterbacks from being sacked. Having good protection from your offensive line can help protect your quarterback from being sacked. In the financial game, the best way to avoid being sacked is to have a financial budget. A financial budget will help you identify where the pressure is coming from and will enable you to put extra protection in place to prevent the sack.

Having a budget in place is like having a good offensive line.  A budget will prevent you from being sacked.  It will help you prevent spending more than you receive each month.

Don’t Turnover the Football

To win the Super Bowl each team must protect the football to prevent turning the ball over. The team with the most turnovers usually does not win. One way to avoid turnovers is to automate.

To simplify your finances you should automate your monthly bills and monthly savings.  By doing this you will not forget to pay your bills which would result in late fees as well as possible interest charges.  Forgetting to save transfer your saving could result in you spending the money instead of saving it.

Financial Defensive Keys to the Game

Protect Your Endzone

On the defensive side each team wants to limit the number of touchdowns the other team scores. The best way to do this is to have a good defensive game plan in place to eliminate those touchdowns. In your financial game plan, you also want to protect your end zone.

The best way to protect your end zone and eliminate those scores is to have insurance in place. Insurance is a great defense.  Having proper insurance in place will help protect your personal property such as car or home.  It will also help cover medical expenses and can help cover funeral expenses as well as provide for your family upon your death.

Avoid the Big Play

If you want to win the Super Bowl your defense can not give up the big play. The other team may have a few trick plays in their game plan to get that big play to score. In the financial game, you have to prepare yourself for those unexpected trick plays.

To do this establish an emergency fund.  An emergency fund will be there to cover those unexpected events that could put you in a financial bind.  If you have a properly funded emergency account in place you are able to handle those unexpected expenses.

Good Red Zone Defense

In the Super Bowl, each teams red zone defense must tighten up to prevent the other team from scoring. The same goes in the personal financial game. You should set up red zone alert when your accounts reach predetermined amounts. By having red zone alerts, you can make adjustments in advance if some things happen like your account being overdrawn or if your account has been compromised you receive alerts.

 

Do you have a game plan for your personal finances? Is the financial game plan you have in place set to help you reach the financial goals you set for yourself?

What are your financial keys to help you win the personal financial game and simplify your personal finances?

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Brian Debt Discipline

This week I have the pleasure of interviewing Brian from Debt Discipline.  He blogs at Debt Discipline about his family’s journey to get out of debt. Now that they have accomplished that goal, they have moved on to building wealth and helping others. You can follow Brian on twitter @debtdiscipline.

What event lead you to simplify your finances?

Hitting rock bottom in 2010, we had max out 5 credit cards to the tune of $109,000 worth of debt. We could not borrow any more. At that point we knew we needed to make a change.

What area of your financial life needed the most simplification?

Our spending. We were using multiple credit cards and accounts to pay for shopping and bills. It was difficult to keep track of it all.

What steps have you taken to simplify your financial life?

We came up with a plan in a form of a budget, learned to spend less than me made and communicate as a family about our finances.

What was your biggest challenge or roadblock when it came simplifying?

Breaking our bad habits with money, it took a few months to get use to not having credit cards to rely on. We had to learn how to say “no”

What app or tool helped you the most when it came to simplifying?

We found a ton of information online from personal finance blogs, and Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover” was a very valuable resource.

How has simplifying changed your life?

We are now debt free, paying off $109K in 50 months. We are now on to building wealth.

What advice or tips would you give to others who want to simplify their finances?

You need a plan. Grab a piece of paper and figure out how much money you have coming in and going out. From there you can priority the expensive in two categories wants or needs. Trim the wants and go from there.

Do you have an emergency fund established, if so how did you determine the amount needed to fund it?

We do. We have 6 months of expenses saved. We determined our monthly expenses and multiplied by 6. We just wanted to have the security of 6 months to cover any major emergency.

What book, blog, or podcast would you suggest to someone who is looking to simplify or improve their finances?

There are many great personal finances blogs out there. Enemy of Debt, Budgets are Sexy, Club Thrifty.  Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover” is a great overall to get started too.

Are there any areas of your finances that you still need to simplify?

Not really, but we continue to work at it every day.

What are your current financial goals?

Now that we are debt free we are on to building wealth. We are building are retirement funds and building college funds for our 3 children.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with others who are looking to simplify?

We have worked hard to get our financial life in order, we were never really taught these basic common sense concepts. Many school systems don’t teach basic financial literacy curriculum so is very important for parents to educate themselves and pass this along to their children.

Thanks Brian. I appreciate you sharing your story on how you and your family have eliminated your debt. I am sure others would love to reach be able to eliminate their debt as well. If you would like to read more about Brian’s journey check out his blog Debt Discipline or follow him on Twitter@debtdiscipline.

To read previous interviews in the series click Simple Inspiration Interviews.

If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.

Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.

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financial peace of mind

A financial peace of mind is what many of us desire or strive for in our lives.  But each of us have different definition of what financial peace of  mind means.  Even within your own household you and your spouse may differ on what financial peace of mind means to each of you.

How do you define your financial peace of mind or what would financial peace of mind look like to you?

For some they define their financial peace of mind as:

Not having any debt

Having the ability to pay off credit card balance each month

Meeting long-term financial goals such as purchasing new home or funding children education

Leaving an inheritance to family or funding a charitable gift

Adequate funds or proper insurance to cover an emergency

Ability to purchase things without having to worry about the financial impact

Knowing I have enough assets to retire and not worry about running out of money

I define my  financial peace of mind in the following way:

Knowing I have money to cover those unexpected emergencies or insurance to cover them.  For example if something in my home needs to be repaired or replaced, I am  not worrying where will I find the money to make the repairs because I already have the money set aside to cover it.  Also knowing this emergency will not cause a financial burden to my finances.

Knowing if I lose my job, I have money to cover my expenses for several months until I can replace my income.

Knowing my retirement is properly funded and I am able to retire when I am ready and not having to work longer than I would like because I did  not save enough.

I have paid off my mortgage and living debt free.

Having enough cash flow to cover my monthly expenses from sources outside of my job.

That’s my definition of my financial peace of mind.

That sounds wonderful . But you may be telling yourself what do I need to achieve my financial peace of mind.

We all can achieve our financial peace of mind. The one thing that can help you achieve that financial peace is to have…..

a savings plan.

Having money saved is the one thing that can provide you with a financial peace of mind. Savings is like a security blanket it’s there when you need it to provide the comfort you need.

Think about it

If you have money saved in an emergency fund for those unexpected expenses that can occur, you will feel a financial peace of mind knowing the money is there.  You do not have to worry about where you will find the money to cover the expense or worse maybe having to use your credit card to pay for the expense.  This will only add more debt which you do need.  Having money saved provides you that added security when you need it.

Having retirement savings enables you to feel at ease knowing you have enough money to enjoy your retirement and not worry if you will run out of money or worse have to go back into the workforce.  It also enable you to feel at ease in case you have to retire earlier than you had planned.  If you start saving early and maximize your saving you can decide when its best for you to retire instead of letting others make that decision for you.

Those are just two examples how having savings in place can help you have a financial peace of mind. There are several ways having a savings plan in place can help provide you with a financial peace of mind.

So what’s stopping you from saving more so you can have a financial peace of mind? 

Take one step at a time to simplify your finances.

 

 

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amanda grossman

I am pleased to have the opportunity to interview Amanda Grossman from Frugal Confessions for this week’s Simple Inspiration interview.  She has two ebooks to help you save money as well as a course to help you eliminate debt that has been waiting you down.  Her blog Frugal Confessions (www.frugalconfessions.com) partners with the cash-strapped and the overly budget conscious to expand their resources beyond the boundaries of their current paycheck in order to financially pursue their slice of the American dream (from Getting Out of Debt, to Saving Gobs of Money, to dabbling in Lifestyle Design and securing a beautiful retirement). Head on over and get your freebie: The Paycheck Expander.

Let’s see how Amanda has been able to simplify her finances.

What event lead you to simplify your finances?

In 2009, when my fiancée (now husband) and I combined our finances, I sat down and calculated that we were sending $75 in interest payments each month to service our remaining $25,000 in debt.

This shocked me. I mean, I knew we were paying some interest, but $75 seemed like an awful lot of money to flush down the drain. After taking the shields off, I was determined to pay off those accounts, and to simplify our overall finances so that this kind of information was easier to see moving forward.

We ended up paying off the rest of this debt less than a year later, shedding three bill payments each month and adding $950 in cash flow back into our lives.

What area of your financial life needed the most simplification?

We needed a serious account decluttering. I periodically sign up for accounts to get the sign-on bonus, and Paul (my husband) had his own accounts. On top of that, we both had been laid off at some point from an employer, so we had extra retirement accounts laying around from that.

What steps have you taken to simplify your financial life?

We took several steps to simplify our financial lives over the last few years. For one, we rolled over our old 401(k)s into the brokerage firm where we keep our IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts). Now everything is under one roof.

Then we signed up for a free aggregator service, Personal Capital, and associated all of our investment accounts. I can sign in at any time and get a snapshot of where we are, as well as our net worth. Not only that, but I know what percentages we are invested in certain things (like international stocks versus US stocks, etc.) and the overall fees we pay each year across all accounts. This is priceless information!

Next, we automated our paychecks into our combined checking account. From this account, we’ve automated all of our bill payments. And yes, we include retirement savings + regular savings as “bills”.

Finally, just last year, I signed up for GoDaddy Bookkeeping for my business, Frugal Confessions. Then I associated my business checking and savings account. So I have a clear snapshot of my overall profit, my monthly profit, and my overall/monthly expenses at any time. Such great information!

Do you have an emergency fund established, if so how did you determine the amount needed to fund it?

Absolutely! I wrote a great post about why saving up an emergency fund isn’t as annoying as you think (which also talks about how we figured out the amount to save for).  If you are interest in reading here is the link: Building an Emergency Fund Isn’t as Annoying as You Think.

What was your biggest challenge or roadblock when it came simplifying?

I am not a tech person, and so I really had what I call a “mental obstacle” around what it would take to make this happen. Fortunately, for each of these services, it was quite simple. I’m still amazed at the ease of signing up, and at how much more informed I am with much less effort.

What app or tool helped you the most when it came to simplifying?
As mentioned above, Personal Capital and GoDaddy Bookkeeping are my recommendations. Plus, automating paycheck deposits and bill payments. I like things to work seamlessly, and mostly without me involved.

How has simplifying changed your life?

I spend much less time looking at our financial accounts. Because I happen to be into personal finance, sometimes I miss those weekly or every-other-day check-ins. But to be honest, this system works so much better for us.

Plus, Paul has full access to our accounts, and so he can also check in at anytime from wherever he is to get snapshots of what’s going on.

What advice or tips would you give to others who want to simplify their finances?

You just need to get over any mental obstacles you have of doing so, and get started. Trust me, you are giving you and your significant other the gift that keeps on giving! The way you should go about this is: declutter accounts, choose your main ones, set up automatic deposits of paychecks, setup automatic bill payments, then sign up for aggregator financial accounts and associate your accounts/credit cards/debts.

Thanks Amanda. I appreciate you taking your time to sharing how you have simplified your finances and offering some tips on how others can simplify as well.  If you would like to read some of Amanda articles or learn more about her check out Frugal Confession or follow her on Twitter @FrugalConfess.

To read previous interviews in the series click Simple Inspiration Interviews.

If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.

Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.

 

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Simple Financial Lifestyle How to Jump Start Savings

 

As we kick off a new year many of us have set finances goals or New Year’s resolutions to get our finances in order. One of the financial goals I hear most often at the beginning of each year (myself included) is I want to save more money this year. You may establish a annual goal to save a specific amount or a current percentage.

These plans usually work for a few months because you decide to reduce your spending or begin to eliminate some unnecessary expenses. By doing this you have extra money at the end of the month you are able save.

But after a few months you have found other things to spend that extra money on instead of saving it. Now the extra money you planned to save is not there at the end of each month.

One reason you maybe spending the money and not saved it is because the money may have remained in your checking account to long. This resulted in you spending it instead of saving it.

If you want to save more money each month so you can achieve the goals you set for yourself, you may have to change how you are handling your savings.

Yes I know change is not always easy but if you want to accomplish something you have never achieved before you must change something in your life.

You probably have heard of the definition of insanity.

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

You cannot continue to do the same thing or say the same thing and expect this year to be any different unless you change something.

If you truly want to save more money this year, change how you handle your savings.
Look at how you are currently managing your savings each month.

Do you just wait to see what is left at the end of each month and put it into your savings account?

Do you rely on yourself to make those monthly transfers?

Do you have it as a line item in your budget?

One simple change you can make to actually help you save more is not to rely on yourself to transfer the money each month or pay period to a separate account.  We all know life happens and we forget or just never get around to making that monthly transfer.

Instead of relying on yourself to transfer the money to your preferred saving account, there is one thing you can do which will jump start your savings this year.  It will not only jump start your savings it will also enable you to save more consistently and you can stop worrying if you will have money at the end of the month to save.

That one thing you must do to jump start your savings plan is to

AUTOMATE your saving every month.

Automating makes the process of saving easier because:

1.    Do not have to remember to move the funds
2.    Saves you time
3.    You cannot spend it because you save first
4.    It’s done consistently

To get your savings jump started in the new year take some time to determine how much you want to save each month.  Once you determine the amount set up a monthly transfer from your checking account to separate account.  This can be a savings account or brokerage account which is best for your situation.

The money should be transferred to the separate account a day or two after your pay check is deposited into your account.  Don’t wait longer because the money will possibly be spent if not moved within a few days.

This one simple change will make a difference in your savings each month.  You will discover that your savings grows faster and you are not worrying if you will be able to save each month because it will automatically be done for you.

ACTION STEP:

Decide how much you would like to save each month now don’t wait; do it now and set up an automated  transfer of that amount to a separate account.  This will not take long to accomplish.  You can probably accomplish this by simply login into your online banking.  You will reach your savings goal quicker by doing it this way.
What have you done to jump start your savings this year?

If you would like to get your finances in order sign up for my newsletter and receive free eBook 9 Ways to simplify your finances in 30 days.  I am sure it will help you.

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Simple Inspiration Interview with J. Money

by B Simple Automate

  I am pleased to have the opportunity to interview J. Money for this week’s Simple Inspiration interview.  J. Money has one of the best personal finance blogs and definitely one of the most entertaining blogs.   I had the opportunity to finally meet him at FinCon this past year and learned more about him. […]

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Happy New Year and Thanks!!! Begin 2015 Right

by B Simple Simple Tips

  I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year.  I also want to thank all of my readers, followers, and newsletter subscribers.  You are the reason I continue to create new content.  2014 was my year to make a change.  I did not create new content the prior year but 2014 I was determined […]

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Simple Inspiration Interview with Miranda Marquit co-host of Money Mastermind Show

by B Simple Interview Series

Happy New Year!!! It’s officially 2015 now.   For today Simple Inspiration Interview, I am please to welcome Miranda Marquit co-host of Money Mastermind.  The Money Mastermind Show is a live weekly show in which panelists discuss different aspects of finances, and talk about different approaches to money. You can get a lot of useful […]

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How To Reduce Holiday Financial Stress by Planning Now

by B Simple Planning

  Yes the Holidays Season is over now so no last minute Christmas shopping to do, no gifts to wrap or Holiday parties to attend. For some it is a great relieve the Holidays are over because they can cause financial stress, especially if you did not plan or budget adequately for your Holiday spending. […]

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