There are things you must know...

Have you ever heard the saying "You don't know what you don't know?"  I'm sure you have and you understand what it means.  There are blind spots that keep us from seeing exactly what needs to get done or happen next.  Usually someone else can see your blind spot much more clearly because they've either been down this road before or have been trained to see things differently. Most of us have financial blind spots.  We go through life thinking everything is ok and really we are only doing what we know to do.  In our business and personal lives that simply isn't good enough!  Here's why.  If no one ever told you that 60% of the people over the age of 50 don't feel like they have enough saved for retirement you would see how important it is to begin now.  If no one ever told you that 68% of small businesses perform no cash flow analysis you wouldn't understand why so many don't last longer than 5 years.  Now that you know these things, you can shift what you are doing to avoid that statistic for yourself.

There are some numbers that you just NEED to know.  If you focus on these numbers you can make better decisions around your finances.  Track the following for the next 3 months and pay attention to what changes in your confidence, planning, and outcomes.

As a small business owner and household financial manager you must know...

  • Total household income
  • Total monthly expenses
  • Household bank balance
  • Business bank balance
  • Total receivables
  • Total payables
  • Revenue forecast
  • Total business expenses
  • Emergency fund balances
  • Total debt owed
  • Total net worth
  • Credit score

These are your critical pieces of information that you need to track on a regular basis (quarterly).  Over time you will know exactly what items you need to work on.  Keep it simple but make sure it happens.  Your future, goals, and financial health depend on it.

 

 

I’m Moving!!!

Yes I said it!  We are headed back to the Midwest next month.  My husband, Chris has always been in sales and now God has blessed him with an opportunity to manage and lead people as a District Sales Manager at Mylan Specialty.  This new opportunity takes us to Indianapolis!  We are excited about this journey and our next chapter!  We will be driving distance to many relatives which is something we’ve desired for a long time.
Chris and I have been in Arizona since August 19th 1998.  We packed up immediately after our August 8th wedding and honeymoon to begin our new marriage in Phoenix.  And it has been amazing!!  I worked for Motorola for 7 years and began my financial coaching business in 2005 after my husband and I were free from our debt.
I’m so grateful for being able to do this business and help so many people through coaching, this newsletter, workshops, etc. And yes I will continue these efforts in our new location. Tailor-Made Budgets is only changing location.
Truly, I’m not going anywhere!
What does this mean for you?  Of course, this is bittersweet (I'm leaving many friends and family behind in Arizona), but it definitely is not the end.  It is just a new beginning for me and my family!  Of course, I will continue my online newsletter and will continue to support you, as always.  Know that all of you, my faithful newsletter readers, have helped me to become who I am today.  I am thankful for your role in my life and pray that God will continue to bless you as he has done with me and my family.
To your financial success!
Ericka

What are you doing with your extra day?

2012 is Leap Year!  We are always looking for more time, more hours in our day, or just one day to “catch up” on something.  Well now you have it!  What are you going to do with it? My recommendation is for you to set aside some time for an activity that you normally never seem to have time for.  Think about your goals for 2012.  Did you commit to paying off some debt?  Well February 29th is a good day to add up how much debt you have and determine how much extra you will put towards paying it off.  Is 2012 the year you decided to really commit to a budget?  Why don’t you make February 29th the day you wrote out your March budget?

Personally, I have scheduled an appointment to get my business marketing back on track.  I am also spending some time watching an educational and inspiring movie with my daughters to celebrate black history month.

I know you may have to work.  I know the kids still need to go to school.  Yes I know that life must go on even though we have an extra day.  But this is 24 extra hours in our year!  What you do with it may change the course of your year dramatically!  Let’s use it wisely!

Are you staying or leaving… your bank?

I’d really like to know! With all of the potential changes coming are you staying or leaving your bank? This past Saturday was National Transfer Day when people already chose to leave their large bank in favor of smaller options like credit unions or online and local banks. Were you one of them? When Bank of America announced last month that they were going to begin charging monthly fees for the use of debit cards on accounts, consumers were outraged! Other large banks thought it was good idea too and toyed with jumping on the same band wagon. But, on November 1st Bank of America decided to halt charging customers those fees because of the major backlash. Of course, my hope is that other banks will do the same. For once, the banks listened to the consumers and changed their mind!

Be forewarned though, there are many other changes that the banks are still considering and may slide under the radar unnoticed. Be sure to check with the new bank you decide to use and/or the one you have now for the following potential fees.

1. $5 Minimum balance fee 2. $3 ATM fee even if you use your own bank’s ATM 3. $5 Notary charge 4. $2 Direct deposit charge 5. $3 Teller usage fee 6. $3 Coin tally service fee

If you add up just one of each of these charges for one month you have paid $21 in fees! Well I’m not taking it! And I hope you don’t either! Continue to speak up and let your bank know you won’t stand for all of these fees. You can also speak up by moving to a smaller bank, online bank, or credit union that aligns with the values you have. Check out creditunion.coop, bankrate.com, or banktruth.org to comparison shop your choices. I want to hear from you! Let me know your thoughts and what you are deciding to do. We must all come together and speak up!

Check that Book

Personal finance is just that… personal. In this day and age no one wants to admit to having trouble in the area of their money. We are responsible right? We know what to do right? No problems here… Well take a look at the housing market right now and see for yourself if we really know what we’re doing. We as American’s have not made good decisions with our money and now many of us are paying the price.

One of the most important things you can do to improve your financial life is Check that Book! Many people come to me because they are dealing with overdraft fees and bounced checks. We’ve all done it, but there is a lot of shame, guilt, remorse, and stress over making this particular mistake. I’m here to tell you that there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Actually, this is the reason that I am doing this business. Making smart decisions with your finances begins with tracking where all your money is going. Miscalculations quickly lead to overdrawn accounts. How do we end this cycle? There are several things you can do to get on the right track if this has happened to you.

1. Start with today’s bank balance for your account. Write it in the checkbook immediately.

2. Write everything down!!! All of your ATM debits, checks, debit card purchases, withdrawals, automatic payments, service charges, dividends, and of course all deposits must be written in the checkbook. Many people forget about the automatic payments or checks that were written several weeks prior. If you authorized it, it will hit your account soon. Review the transactions the bank already took out. Insert any transactions that haven’t yet hit your account in addition to outstanding checks you’ve written.

3. On an ongoing basis it is imperative that you write down all transactions as soon as they occur. If you are utilizing a software tool for your checkbook like Money or Quicken then you must keep all receipts in a convenient place so you can record everything as soon as you can get to your computer.

4. Bring the balance down! If you don’t subtract or add your last transaction and know the balance remaining then a checkbook is worthless. The whole point is for you to know exactly how much money you have currently in your account.

5. Accuracy is key. Never round up or down to make it look like more or less is in your account. All that says is that you don’t want face the truth. This whole process is about facing the truth. Your checkbook balance may be just the reality check you need.

6. Remember that using your debit card can also post as a credit card purchase. If you use your pin number during the transaction it posts to your account immediately. If you sign without using your pin number then it is run as a credit purchase and could take several days to show up. Do not allow this to be a checkbook catastrophe. Just because it doesn’t come through today doesn’t mean it is never coming through. Record it in your checkbook just as if it debited your account immediately.

7. Balance it. Be sure to check each transaction with your bank at the end of each month with your bank statement. I check off each transaction when it comes in. This way I know what is still outstanding. OK my engineering background is about to come out… Remember this equation.

Bank Balance = Confirmed Bank Transactions – Outstanding Transactions

You want to make sure not to forget any checks that are more than a month old. Sometimes it takes people a while to cash checks. At least this way you can give them a reminder call to let them know the check needs to be cashed. Otherwise you might feel that you have more money available than you truly do.

You can face the checkbook giant. Actually, conquering this beast will bring freedom and control. Knowing exactly what you have in your account at any given moment helps you to make sound decisions with you money all the time. Even if there isn’t much in the account at least you know. If there is a lot in the account… at least you know. Ignorance in this area is certainly not bliss and could lead to financial stress and countless fees. Make it a point to begin utilizing your checkbook.

“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks and attend to your herds”

Proverbs 27:23

Financial Fitness at Work

When I worked in corporate America, my husband and I had a lot of debt! We started our marriage with $60k and it climbed to nearly $100k in a few short years. We desperately needed someone to educate us on how to get out of this hole. We felt alone and didn’t know who to turn to. We were also naïve about the process of getting out of debt. Simply put, we were young and stupid! One day the light bulb went on when we listened to the Dave Ramsey Show on the radio. For the first time, we felt inspired about money management and we gained a little glimmer of hope. We began to read books, take classes, and even talked with other people about money matters and debt. The more knowledge we gained the more excited we became about our financial future!

Dave Ramsey however, is in Nashville, TN. He won’t sit down with you and help you work through your personal budget and debt reduction plan. In addition to that, neither of our workplaces provided this insight, education, or push to succeed with money. Sure, you could learn about your 401k or health care options, but who would teach me about getting out of debt at work? No one!

Wouldn’t it be nice to go into work and sit down with your personal coach for an hour to work on your finances right there on site? Or how would it feel to attend a financial workshop on your lunch hour.  You would feel that your employer cares about these issues and is willing to provide you with the resources to truly get free, wouldn't you? 85% of American workers would love their employers to provide financial education as a benefit to them, however only 20% believe they will get it.

This is why I have created Financial Fitness at Work! Maybe your employer hasn’t helped you up to this point but now Tailor-Made Budgets can be the resource you’ve needed all along.  If you want to see this life-changing information available at your workplace, email me.  To find out more about the program click here…

The Heart of a Teacher

Throughout life we all need advisors along the way that can help us make sound decisions.  When selecting tax advisors, financial planners, lawyers, insurance and real estate agents, coaches etc. we must be very selective.  It is critical to your success that these people embody the heart of a teacher.  Anyone giving you advice or counsel should be knowledgeable about the subject matter, sensitive to your needs, non-judgmental, wise, and a good listener. 

Proverbs 11:14 states, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” 

When you surround yourself with knowledgeable people who have your best interest at heart you are better prepared to make good decisions.  You will feel safe because you are at peace in your decision-making and you know that wise people are only a phone call away.

Many professionals offer a free consultation.  During this session you should be able to walk away with some needed information and a short to do list.  He or she has listened to your needs and provided a brief lesson on the issue at hand.  You should feel encouraged and motivated to take any necessary action.  If the professional you are looking to hire fits this bill then you know you have one with the heart of teacher. 

I am very passionate about sharing my knowledge when it comes to finances and budget planning.  Where others struggle, I thrive.  Having experienced financial struggles of my own early on and paid off a large amount of debt, I am now in a position to share my knowledge and there is nothing more that I would rather do.  People who have experienced situations themselves make the best teachers!  Feel free to contact me to set up a complimentary consultation to see how I would be able to  help.  You will walk away with good information and many resources.

Automate it....

Each year we all attempt to start the year fresh with goals and dreams that we’d like to accomplish.  This is a great way to make sure that you are fulfilling your purpose, reaching your goals, and planning for long awaited dreams.  But, many times these efforts are lost by the time the month of January is over.  Our motivation wanes and we are back to our normal routine.  Before January is over try something new!  We live in such a computer and gadget-oriented world that just about everyone can use this advice.  Right now go get your list of goals and plug them into your PDA, phone, or Outlook on your computer.  Set it up to remind you periodically (preferably weekly) to make some progress on each one.  This way even when you forget about the goal, your electronic device has not.  Allow technology to do the reminding so you can execute!

Bring in the New Year with a new resolve and a firm action plan!

Happy New Year!

Some things just don’t mix…

Lemons, water, and sugar mix beautifully to create a refreshing beverage on a hot summer day. Noodles, marinara sauce, and meatballs cooked together produce a satisfying meal.

But business and personal finances when mixed together create confusion, disorder, and misrepresentation.    These two things should never be mixed.  Yet the small or micro business owner can easily find themselves doing just that; mixing business and personal finances.   It is critical to follow a few simple steps to get your business and personal finances in order so your business can thrive professionally and you can breathe personally.

  • Keep separate business and personal accounts!!  This is the single most important step in the process.  This makes it easy to create individual business and personal budgets that guide financial affairs. 
  • Setup accounting or bookkeeping tools for both business and personal accounts.  I have found that Quicken works easily for personal finances and it is inexpensive.  It replaces the standard checkbook, categorizes spending, and maintains a history for future planning and reconciliation.  Quickbooks is the business standard, but requires some professional setup as well as costs more.  If your business has employees though, it is a must. 
  • Prepare for taxes on a regular basis.  Save 10% each time you pay yourself so you are always prepared to pay the bill.  Uncle Sam is not going away so you might as well prepare for him.

Although satisfying and delivering to your customers is the reason you went into business, money mismanagement could be the reason many owners go out of business.  This area is just as critical for your personal life.  Many marriages are restored simply by resolving issues related to money.  Don’t underestimate the power of this simple principle:  tell your money where to go so it doesn’t tell you where it went!

Resolve in 2011 to start on a fresh slate with your money management for both business and personal.  That is a great resolution!