Peter Anderson

Welcome this is my fourth Simple Inspiration Interview.  This week I am honored to have Peter Anderson share how he has simplified his finances.  Peter has been blogging regularly since January 2008 on his site Bible Money Matters
He writes about 3 cornerstone topics on the site – finances, faith and family – while sprinkling in a fair dose of just about everything else. The goal of his site is to share some of the things that he has learned on his journey to help others who are going through similar circumstances.  He is also a part of a weekly live streaming web show and podcast called the Money Mastermind Show where he and a few other bloggers talk about a wide variety of financial topics, along with having a special guest on every week to talk about topics that are extremely relevant for average folks.

Let’s learn how Peter has simplified his finances.

What event lead you to simplify your finances?

I’m not sure if it was one event that caused me to realize that we needed to simplify our finances, or just a realization that if we didn’t simplify, things weren’t going to happen like they should. We found that we had good intentions when it came to our finances, but far too often the follow through wasn’t happening when it came to making those good intentions a reality. We just realized over time that we needed to simplify things as far as cutting down the number of accounts we had and keeping a more simplified budget (with fewer categories), while at the same time taking things that could be automated, and making them automatic. Things like savings, investment and regular monthly payments.

What area of your financial life need the most simplification?

I think we needed the most simplification when it came to our investing and saving for retirement. We had accounts with several different brokerage companies and a company 401(k). We had too many accounts, and not enough happening with those accounts. With too much going on it can become overwhelming. Simplifying and creating a plan for our investments allowed us to take strides and invest more.

What steps have you taken to simplify your financial life?

We have cut down on the number of accounts, we have automated the things that we can like our savings and retirement goals, and we have setup monthly budget meetings in order to make sure we stay on track. It helps give us clarity on where we are, and where we want to be.

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

Just taking the time to sit down, figure out a financial plan and then implement it was probably the biggest roadblock. It’s easy to get into a place where when you get home from work you don’t really want to spend time on things like your budget, or a financial plan. You just want to relax. So what we ended up doing was just taking a personal day off from work and sitting down and working through our budget, taking stock of what accounts we really needed and closing the ones we didn’t,, and then setting up automated deposits into savings and investment goals. We also took that day to get quotes on insurance, and find better rates on services we were paying for every month. and to cut services that we no longer needed.

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

It’s a lot like simplifying and decluttering in your household where you go through and get rid of all the clutter in your house. A lot of the things you’re getting rid of may feel like you have a use for them, but in the end they’re just cluttering up your house, and weighing down on you. Simplifying your financial life will create more clarity in your finances, and allow you to better enact your financial plan.

How has simplifying changed your life?

It just makes things easier. You don’t have to worry about your finances as much because you have less accounts to worry about, you have a financial plan in place and a lot of things are automated, helping you to reach your goals with little or no effort. In short simplifying has allowed us to live with less stress when it comes to money

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

Yes, I think we still need to simplify our budget a little. As it is now I think it probably goes into way too much detail in some areas, causing it to feel a bit cumbersome and a bit confusing for my wife. So we’re working on that over the coming months. No budget is ever complete I don’t think, it’s an ever evolving guide that changes as your priorities change.

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

You Need A Budget budgeting software was extremely helpful in simplifying our budget, setting up our automatic payments and savings goals and keeping our finances straight all in one place.

How long did it take you to simplify?

I’m still in the process of simplifying! But in reality we did a lot of simplifying all in one month where I took off a couple of personal days so that I could just get our finances all in order.

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

Just do it! Take a personal day, sit down with all of your financial data and simplify where you can, and make things as automatic as you can to take the human element out of it.

I would like to thank Peter for taking time to share his advice on how he has simplified his finances.  Take Peter’s advice and get your financial house in order by getting rid of unnecessary financial clutter similar to getting rid of household clutter.  If you would like learn more about Peter you can read his blog Bible Money Matters or you can follow him on Twitter @moneymatters

If you would like to read previous interviews in the series click Simple Inspiration Interviews.

Also 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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credit card flying with you

 

We all love to use credit cards for their convenience but are you using them to help simplify your personal finances or is your credit card usage making your personal finances more difficult.  For example, we sometimes forget to make that monthly payment or our balance keeps getting larger and larger and we feel overwhelmed.  The only way to stop the bleeding is to stop using the credit card completely.  However, if you use your credit card properly you will not have to stop using the credit instead you can use the credit card to your advantage.  It can even become a valuable tool to use to simplify your personal finances.

Here is what you need to do to make sure you are practicing good credit card usage:

Payoff your balance at the end of each month

This is a must do every month.  If you want to simplify your finances as well as avoid unnecessary debt you must pay off the balance each month.  If you do not you will be paying unnecessary interest payments.  So only charge what you can pay off at the end of each month.

Spend within your budget

Do not charge things that you are unable to pay off.  If you did not budget for the purchase this month do not use a credit card to pay for it.  Yes, I know it is very easy to just use your credit card because of the convenience.  But think before you use it.  Also you do not want to spend more than your credit card limit.

Pay on time

Make sure your credit card payment is paid on time.  If not you will incur those dreaded late fees.  One way to avoid this is to set up auto pay from your checking account to pay your credit card to make sure it is paid on time.

Avoid applying for unnecessary cards

Yes you may receive an offer for zero interest for six months or receive ten percent off on your purchase.  But think before you say yes to this offer.  Why do you want to add an additional card to your existing credit cards.  That is just another card payment you have to keep track of.  Before signing up for new credit card call your existing card company to see if they will match the offer you received.  Think before you say yes and ask yourself does this card fit my lifestyle and do I really need another card?

Limit the number of cards

You do not want to carry more than two credit cards with you.  Why would you need more than two cards?  The more cards you carry the more likely you are going to spend.  Also if by chance you lose your purse or wallet that’s one more card someone can have access to. Limiting the number of cards will also help your credit score.  Having too many card can have a lower your credit score.

Monitor your interest rate

Know how much interest your being charged.  Many times you do not know the interest rate you are paying because the balance is paid off at the end of each month so you are not charged interest, which is a great reason.  However, if you are carrying a balance you may be charged a high rate of interest when it’ not justified.  Also your credit card company may raise your rate from the time you initially signed up for the card so you want to monitor the rate.

Reduce your credit card debt

If you do not have any outstanding credit card debt congratulations but if you do have outstanding debt you want to reduce this debt as quick as possible. Getting out of credit card debt is not easy so set a goal to begin reducing this debt.  You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish by simply setting a goal and taking action to reach your goal.

If you want to simplify your personal finances take action now by following these simple tips to make sure your practicing safe credit card usage.

Which tips do you plan to implement now?

Do you have other tips which have helped you simplify your credit card usage?

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Ashley Jacobs

 

I have another great interview this week to share for my Simple Inspiration interview series.  This week I have the pleasure of interviewing Ashley Jacobs from Wise Bread.  Wise Bread is all about helping people learn to live large on a small budget. I had the opportunity to met Ashley at FinCon in New Orleans earlier this year where she did a great job as MC for the Plutus Awards.

Ashley is Wise Bread’s community manager, she runs their weekly #WBChat.  Their sponsored #WBChat’s have a 92% success rate of trending on Twitter in the U.S. and generate an average of 3.2 million impressions. Attendees of the chat can learn about various personal finance topics to help them manage their finances better. Be sure to join them  every Thursday at 12pm PST!

Now lets hear how Ashley has simplified her financial life.

How has simplifying changed your life?

It’s enabled me to have lower stress levels and make time for the things I value most in life. It’s also enabled me to save more money since my savings are automatic. The money gets transferred into savings before I have a chance to spend it, which will one day enable me to hopefully buy a home or retire comfortably.

What event lead you to simplify your finances?

For me it wasn’t one particular event. The primary reason I decided to simplify my finances was because I had so much on my plate. Between juggling multiple jobs and making time for family and friends, trying to manage my finances was just another item on my incredibly long to-do list. It was important for me to figure out how to simplify my finances so that I could have more time to focus on the things that were important to me as well as to reduce my stress levels.

What steps have you taken to simplify your financial life?

Automating has been huge for me. I’ve enrolled in bill pay for every bill that enables me to do so. I’ve also made it a point to set up automatic transfers between my bank accounts so that a portion of all my paychecks end up getting put into savings (both an emergency fund and a retirement account). Now the only thing I have to do to make sure everything is taken care of is log into my bank accounts online to make sure all payments and transfers have been completed simply by checking my statements. Having to go to one website to do that is so much simpler than having to go to multiple sites!

What area of your financial life needed the most simplification?

Probably dealing with bills. Trying to keep track of all my bills including due dates, balancing my checkbook, remembering URLs/usernames/passwords for online bill pay and more was a lot to keep track of, so finding a way to make sure my bills were paid without all the extra effort of keeping track of everything associated with them was important to me.

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

As odd as this may sound, trusting that everything will get paid and transferred the way I need/want was the biggest challenge for me. This was especially tough when it came to setting up automatic payments for my credit card. Working in personal finance, I’ve heard too many stories about people going into credit card debt and owing tons of money due to interest, so trusting that my bank will automatically pay my credit card off in full each month using my checking account funds was a hard for me.

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

I’d have to say the Wells Fargo app for my phone. For one of my side jobs, people pay me using checks and taking the time to go to the bank to deposit them was a hassle. My Wells Fargo app allows me to deposit checks through the app using my phone. It’s so much simpler! It also allows me to track my spending and finances on the go, which is really helpful.

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

Absolutely! There is always room for improvement in any aspect of your finances. It would be great if I could consolidate some of my bank accounts so I don’t have so many different savings/checking accounts. That is something I’d like to do in the not too distant future.

How long did it take you to simplify?

I’m still in the process of simplifying! Like I said, there is always room for improvement. But little steps like enrolling in automatic bill pay or setting up automatic transfers took very little time, maybe 5 minutes tops per bill pay or transfer set up!

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

Start with baby steps. Don’t try to simplify everything all at once, otherwise you’ll get overwhelmed and things won’t seem so simple. Pick one thing that you can easily do today and do it! This will help motivate you to make even more changes to simplify your finances.

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

Definitely take the time to simplify. Not only will it improve your finances, but it will also improve your life by reducing your stress levels and giving you more time to do the things you actually enjoy doing!

I would like to thank Ashley for taking time for this interview. She has offered some very good advice on how and why you should simplify your finances.  As she stated don’t try to do it all at once take it one step at a time.If you would like to reach out to Ashley she can be found at Wise Bread or on Twitter @wisebread

Read more Simple Inspiration Interviews

If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email.  Have a great week.

 

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6 simple steps2-7

 

 

This is a guest post by Trea Branch.  She blogs regular at her site Trea’s Two Cents. Her goal is to help as many people as possible to achieve financial independence.

 

Getting out of debt is far from easy. If it’s massive (relative to your income) it gets harder, and if you have multiple debts, it’s even more difficult. The cruel irony of it all is that debt is so easy to get into. Companies are just begging for us to dive deeper and deeper into it, making it so easy that half of the time we don’t even realize what we’re getting into! But I’m here to tell you two things:

  • Getting out of massive, complicated debt is possible
  • A little process and a lot of focus can make it a little easier

So below is my 6-step process for getting out of debt (spoken from personal experience!).

Step 1: Shift that Mindset

Every major feat starts in the mind because it’s your most powerful tool. In fact, a lot of my posts are all about how you think about money and what it’s supposed to do for you. Your money mindset can be the difference between accepting debt as something you will pay on for the rest of your life and having a “do whatever it takes” attitude to free yourself of it.

The first step to getting out of debt is not being okay with it, realizing how it’s stopping you from doing more with your money. This isn’t so you get down on yourself. It’s to motivate you to take action, no matter the size of the debt, and to be encouraged to keep pushing through and adjusting to the different hurdles that are bound to pop up along the way. You know how athletes sit in the locker room before a big game, listening to that song that just gets them ready to go? This is your pre-game. You have to prepare your mind for your debt-free journey!

Step 2: Know the Full Damage

Now that you’re amped up, it’s time to know what you’re dealing with. How much do you owe in total? It can be eye-opening, maybe a little intimidating, but don’t let it be discouraging. We’ve already told ourselves that we’re all in and ready to go. We won’t get afraid, even with the major balances.

As of January 2014, I owed $180,000 in student loans (now closer to $100,000). Since starting my journey, I’ve met those who paid off a lot less and I met those who paid off a lot more. Don’t get overwhelmed with your balance (where you start is not where you finish!), but do know it, so that you can set a full strategy. Once you know all that you owe, you can go to step 3.

Step 3: Select the Chosen One

For those of us with more than one debt, simplifying your efforts by focusing on one at a time is critical. This can happen on two levels:
• Fight the urge to spread the love. You can have 3 credit cards, 2 student loans, and 1 car payment. Choose one to attack aggressively (paying above and beyond the minimum monthly payment) and continue paying the minimum payment on the others.

As a side note, to make it even easier on yourself, I highly recommend the Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball Method. This is where you start with your lower-balance loan to get a quick win and build momentum.

• Set aside your other financial goals. You’ll spread yourself too thin trying to build an emergency fund, invest, and get out of debt. To simplify and see progress more quickly, prioritize! For example, consider building that emergency fund before you aggressively pay down your debt.

Step 4: Hustle!

Once you are focused on a debt, it’s time to take action. We all know the only way to get out of debt and win the war on interest is to pay above the minimum monthly payment. So you need to find this extra money. It’s easier said than done, but you can either cut your spending, grow your income, or do it big and do both!

Again, easier said than done, so this is where that mindset shift from step 1 can really work to encourage you and push you through those times when you’re giving up what you love or working double shifts to earn extra money.

Step 5: Commit

With a payment plan in place you are good to go, but you’ll want to “lock it in” by giving yourself a deadline. There are several debt calculators showing how long it will take to pay off a loan based on a set monthly payment. Your deadline can be one, five, ten years from now (or however long you need). The goal becomes real when you have an end in sight. I also encourage you to set a few milestones that you can celebrate along the way. We’re doing big things here!

Step 6: Get a Little Nimble

Now you are focused, and your plan is strong. But every plan should be adjustable to a certain extent. When emergencies arise we can’t give up on our debt-free strategy out of frustration. No, we have to adjust, show our strength, so that we can keep moving forward. Adjusting may mean tightening your spending even more, missing an “aggressive payment”, or extending your deadline a bit. However you adjust, it is important to strike that balance between being determined and being flexible.

These 6 steps will make a tough experience a little easier by giving direction, focus, and a little encouragement!

Journey on!

 

If you are interested in learning more about how Trea is eliminating her debt make sure you check out her blog Trea’s Two Cents where she helps you stop living paycheck to paycheck.  If you want her to help you reduce your debt check out her coaching.

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James Molet interview

 

Welcome to this week’s Simple Inspiration interview series.  This is my second Simple Inspiration interview.  I hope you enjoyed the first one with Amanda Abella.  This week I am honored to interview James Molet or you may know him as Savvy James.

James a 21 year United States Army veteran, blogs at  Retirement Savvy.  His blog is a personal finance blog with a focus on retirement planning. It is geared toward people who know intuitively that they should be doing something to prepare for retirement but do not know how or where to start; or are currently saving and investing, but are admittedly doing it blindly, without a ‘nest egg’ number in mind and a concrete plan that addresses how to achieve that number.   Not only is James a blogger he is also an author to two books and is working on a third.

His first book is Rendezvous With Retirement: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.  This book is a ‘how-to’ book that walks the reader through developing a comprehensive savings and investment plan for securing a comfortable retirement, while reflecting on my personal journey to fiscal fitness. It provides guidelines for how individuals can determine how much money they will need – or desire – in retirement, necessary actions associated with retirement planning, behaviors that should be adopted in pursuit of fiscal fitness, provides the requisite tools for planning, provides suggested guidelines for funding various retirement accounts and highlights various personal finance philosophies. In many ways , it and the blog are complementary pieces.

His second book and his first novel is Cream City Hustle, is a playful way to weave personal finance concepts and ideas within the framework of a fictional thriller.  He is currently working on my second personal finance thriller, Sin City Greed.

That’s a little background on  James now let’s get to know more about him and how he has simplified his financial life.

As you know my blog focuses on helping individuals simplify their personal finances.  I know you have made it a goal to simplify your finances.

What event lead you to simplify your finances?

A divorce. At the time I was thirty-four years old and after sitting down one afternoon to assess where I was financially, I realized that I was broke. Like many other Americans I found myself in debt and living paycheck to paycheck. I determined at that point I needed to get a handle on my finances.

What area of your financial life needed the most simplification?

Managing expenses. I started diligently tracking where my income was being spent and then identified ways in which I could reduce those expenses.

What steps have you taken to simplify your financial life?

Once I got my debt and expenses under control and had money to commit to savings and investing, I was all over the place. I bought CDs as well as savings bonds (EE and I), invested in mutual funds, tried various ETFs, bought an annuity; and I was buying individual stocks through a brokerage account and via DRIPs. I was new to investing and was anxious to try any and everything to see what worked for me.

Over the last few years however, I have dramatically scaled back. While I still have the annuity – I contribute very little to it now though – and I occasionally trade individual stocks (primarily just for fun), my main focus with respect to my retirement plans (a 401(k) and Roth IRA) is on low-cost index funds. I have settled on the idea that most people are better served by simply diversifying with a few low-cost funds. If people make contributions, on a regular basis (dollar cost averaging) over a number of years into good, low-cost (less than 1% expense ratio) funds, they will do alright.

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

Getting over the idea that I had to be involved in a number of different types of investments.

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

Over a number of years I developed my own workbook, comprised of multiple worksheets, which helps me track and manage all of my spending , savings and investments. A simplified version – what I call the RWR (Rendezvous With Retirement) Simple Retirement Workbook is a companion piece to my first book and I have also made it available for download, for free, from my website.   Did you hear that FREE Simple Retirement Workbook.   I have checked the retirement planner and budget planner both are very useful tools.

How has simplifying changed your life?

Getting rid of debt and developing a sound, simple retirement plan allows me to sleep well at night.

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

Not really. I have been at this a number of years now and over that time I have developed a plan that works for me and is, in many respects, on auto-pilot. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing for the next 12 years and slide right into retirement … a very well financed retirement.

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

Do three things.

  1. Get spending and debt under control. You can’t properly prepare for your financial future if you are living paycheck to paycheck. Get rid of stuff you don’t need, cut back on monthly expenses, pick up a second job if necessary and don’t carry credit card debt month to month.
  2. Establish an emergency fund. Such an account will give you immediate access to cash which allows you to take care of unforeseen circumstances without impacting the money you have committed to saving and investing.
  3. As I mentioned earlier, make consistent, regular contributions to a retirement plan (e.g. 401(k) and/or IRA) comprised of low-cost index funds.

I would like to thank James for taking time for this interview.  He has offered some very good simple tips to how you can also simplify your finances.  It will take some time and effort but once you get control and put a plan in place as James said you will sleep well at night.  If  you would like to reach out to James he can be found at Retirement Savvy or on Twitter @ SavvyJames

If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email.

Til next time take one step at a time to simplify your finances.

 

Copyright: razihusin / 123RF Stock Photo

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5 Simple Tips for Last Minute Holiday

 

Does last minute Holiday shopping cause you stress or cause you to spend more money than you budgeted? When you do last minute shopping you usually will spend more because you are rushing and want to just get finished with your shopping. In order to simplify your personal finances you should plan your holiday shopping well in advance so you are not stressing over what to buy and how much money you just spent. I know that is not always possible. We may forget to put someone on your initial list or you are busy with other things and have not found the time to go shopping. If you find yourself doing last minute holiday shopping here are some simple tips to help you simplify:

Keep to a Budget

Many times with last minute shopping we toss out the budget or don’t put a budget in place. You will usually regret it later. So make sure you take some time to set a budget and stick to.  It will cause less stress on your finances if you use one.  Sticking to your budget you will help you avoid that financial hangover after the holidays.

Make a List

Just like having a budget you must go shopping with a list of things you plan to purchase. Its last minute shopping so go with a plan in place. You don’t have much time left to shop so make it easier on yourself by identifying what you are looking to purchase. If do not have a list you will usually end up breaking your budget or spend hours looking for that perfect gift.

Purchase gift cards

If you are under a time constraint, purchasing a gift card is always a great last minute gift idea. With a gift card you can stay within your budget you set, because a gift card enables you to set the exact dollar amount you want on the card. A gift card also enables the person to purchase the gift they would like instead of you spending hours trying to decide what to purchase. Gift cards are also easy to find which makes the purchase even easier to make.

Create homemade gifts

Instead of going shopping for holiday gifts why not create homemade gifts. By creating homemade gifts, you are not going to the mall at the last minute. You should be able to stay within your budget. You are not stressing looking for that perfect gift because everyone enjoys homemade cookies or desserts.

Its the thought not the price

During the holiday season, we always want to find that perfect gift. But we sometimes forget its the thought that counts not the price. So instead of stressing yourself out or breaking your budget to purchase what you thought was the perfect just buy a little simple gift. They will always remember that you thought of them not what you bought them.

TAKE ACTION
Don’t wait until the last minute to do your Christmas shopping but if you do wait until the last minute follow these simple tips to make the last few days less stressful and more enjoyable.  Happy shopping.

If there are others you know who always seems to wait until the last minute and becomes stress during the Holidays make sure you share these tips with them so they can enjoy their Christmas.

Are you looking to simplify your finances be sure to sign up for my newsletter which offers tips as well as free e-boon to help you simplify your finances within 30 days.

Enjoy your Holiday Season.

Take one step at a time to simplify.

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What are Your Budget Busters? How Do You Avoid Them?

by B Simple Budgeting

Have you decided not to create a monthly budget because every time you create one you always bust it.  Why waste my time when I know I will bust it before the end of the month. Creating a personal budget is important to your personal financial health.  Sticking to your personal budget can be challenging […]

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How Automating Helped Simplify Her Finances – Simple Inspiration Interview with Amanda Abella

by B Simple Interview Series

  Welcome to this week’s Simple Inspiration interview series.  This is the first of many Simple Inspiration interviews I plan to offer.  Today I am honored to interview Amanda Abella.   Amanda is a millennial business coach as well as Amazon Bestselling author.  Her book Make Money Your Honey shows individuals how to simplify work and money when you’re an entrepreneur.  […]

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How Does Your Budget Fit You?

by B Simple Budgeting

  Budgeting is a key tool to help you simplify your finances. It helps you see where your money is going and coming from. Making a few small adjustments to your budget can have a significant impact on your future. You are probably saying yes I know having a budget would help my finances but […]

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4 Ways to Prune Your Finances to Help You Simplify

by B Simple Simple Tips

  Have your personal finances become overgrown?  No matter what you do you can not  get a handle on  your personal finances.   Do you have a hard time keeping track of all of your banking and investment accounts?  Are you overwhelmed with all of the financial information you hear every day and not sure where […]

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