Personal Finance in Paradise – Veteran’s Day – How You Handle Your Money: Mindset

How mental accounting affects your spending

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It’s Veteran’s day!

I want to thank all the veterans who have served our country. Thank you for being able to protect the freedom we take for granted and are able to take part of today.

Let’s talk about how we label money affects our buying decisions as some of us shop online and at the stores.

The Scenario

Let’s say this morning you wake up and start the day off great with a good breakfast, and you even got to sleep in. Then you go online and start shopping at your favorite clothing store site. You see a great looking shirt that you think you would look great in, and you buy the shirt on credit. For the moment, it makes you happy, and you don’t give it a second thought because you can just pay it off later.

Later in the day, you go on a hike with a few friends and you have a blast being in the sun. On the way home, you see your favorite coffee shop, and you haven’t had anything to eat since breakfast. You remember that they the best coffee cake. You and your friends decide to go take a peak. Once inside, you find that your favorite barista is working. You ask him to make a large iced caramel macchiato. You have a few laughs with the barista, and he gets your name wrong again on your cup. You pull out your credit card again, and you notice you have a dollar and some change in your wallet. Feeling generous, you place the money in the tip container as you leave.

Then in the evening, you take it easy and you go to a movie with your friends. You have a great day celebrating veterans, sharing some laughs, and enjoying life. Then later in the month you get your credit card statement, and you are confused on why you spent so much. What happened?

Mental Accounting

Why did we decide to go out and spend more money than we wanted? We’ve fallen victim to mental accounting. It is a concept where we treat dollars differently depending on where it comes from and how we have labeled the use of that money. The difference is that when we pay for merchandise with cash or with checks we see immediate consequences. The obvious answer is that that we have less money to spend.

We place less value on money we put on credit cards because we do not see the immediate consequences. At the same time, we don’t see that buying merchandise on credit is more expensive because of the interest that gets charged when we use the card.

Small Amounts of Money

People who have harder time holding onto small amounts of money, like putting small amounts into tip jars, have a harder time saving money. It’s because that the money we have wasn’t labeled for anything important. I”m not saying that you shouldn’t be grateful and tip your barista, it’s that if money isn’t labeled for a specific use, we will find a way to spend it.

Takeaway

To get around mental accounting, place money in accounts that are labeled for a specific purpose. For instance, a savings account, which was marked for the down payment of a house. We would be placing a higher value on the account because it limits what we are willing to do with the money.

Pre-spend money before you have the chance to spend it yourself. Let me say it this way, have your money sent over to a savings account, or investment account before you have a chance to see it in your account. Psychologically it’s much easier to set your money aside this way than by writing a check to your savings or investment account.

Track your spending at the end of the day, and keep a list of your expenses.

Have a great veteran’s day. Please feel free to comment, and let me know if there’s anything you want me to talk about.

Personal Finance in Paradise – Personal Disclaimer

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I want to be up front and let you all know that I am not a financial expert. I do not have a degree in finance. I chose not to go that route because of the the politics of the educational system and that I felt that the education I would have received would not have helped me learn how to manage my own personal finances.

I’ve always felt that the media chooses what’s best for their own ratings and feeding people propaganda to continuously take advantage of consumers by fear.

My education is ranges in many ways. I am always burying myself in books about personal finance and business, and entrepreneurs continually teach me weekly. I have made mistakes along the way, and I can’t say that I won’t make mistakes in the future.

Please use anything I say on this site to your own discretion.

I’m looking forward to share a couple of great ideas soon. See you then.

Personal Finance in Paradise – How to develop a Financial Plan

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“If you were to show me your current financial plan, would I get so excited by it that I would go across the country and lecture on it? If the answer is no, then here’s my question: ‘Why not?’ Why wouldn’t you have a superior financial plan that is taking you to the places you want to go?” — Jim Rohn

Many of us have never been taught how to develop a financial plan, and we walk through life guessing what is the next financial move that we should make. It’s possibly the main reason why people are live paycheck to paycheck.

It took me a year or two of research and testing to figure out what I wanted in my life. One thing I recommend is the worksheet from Missouri State University which is provided in the link. The worksheet is a good start point.

The process

1. Determine your current financial situation

One of my mentors told me that your net worth is your adult report card. We lose sight of how we are doing financially, and one way is to measure how we are doing is by looking at your net worth. My financial plan started out with me being $66,500 in debt in 2007 and no savings. I started to track every purchase, and it helped me to clarify where I wanted to go in the future.

Begin with how much you have saved up (in savings accounts, Roth IRAs, and other investments), and then subtract your liabilities (all of your debt from credit cards and loans). Begin tracking your expenses and organize your financial records.

2. Develop your financial goals

I wanted to get out of it the fastest way possible and not lose any of the activities that made me happy. I asked the following questions. It helped me find out where I wanted to be in the future.

  • What do you want for the future?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • Do you want to save a certain amount of money a month?
  • Where do you want to travel?
  • What are your financial values?

3. Identify alternative courses of action

Seeing that my purchasing behavior and spending got me into trouble, I knew that the behavior was the first thing to change. I thought to myself “there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes with money. Learn from the experience and move forward.”

Remind yourself that there is no reason to beat yourself up over the situation that you’re currently in. Your circumstances can change. It’s a learning process and it’s alright if you don’t know everything now.

4. Evaluate alternatives

Because the $66,500 price tag was looming over my head, there needed to be a major decision to be made. How much could I put toward paying down the debt. After running numbers in my budget, I decided to put $1,250 a month to the debt and that was the first thing to come out.

Of course I had to give up a few luxuries like being able to eat out often. As I learned and searched for alternatives, I gained respect for money, and relearning delayed gratification. The choices you make now get will get you closer to your goals in the future.

Weigh the costs of the choices that you make. For instance, Can I make steady payments of $650 to my debt per month? What better choices can I make with my money so I can get to the $650 goal

5. Create and implement your financial action plan

After I decided to take action, all the stress and emotion was taken out of the decision making process. It ended up becoming a game of how could I make better decisions to pay the debt down faster.

Once you have made a few decisions on what you want, and the direction you want to go, it’s time to make that plan work. This is the testing phase to see if you are able to work with your plan, and if it will work for you. The hardest part of gathering all the information and planning is complete.It will be hard at first, and the process will be worth it because you are beginning to change habits that you didn’t know you had before. You are on the road to becoming better with money.

6. Review and revise the financial plan

Your first plan isn’t going to be your last. As you move along in life, your financial situation is going to change. My financial situation changed many times over the years. Yours will too. Trust in the process, adjust when you have to, and restart from the beginning when you have to.

For more detail go to wikiHow to get deeper into the planning. Let me know if this helped you, or if you have any suggestions please let me know. See you again soon.

If you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you. If you go to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you. Whatever good things we build end up building us. – Jim Rohn

10 Things Americans Waste Their Money On

Dave Ramsey posted a while ago 10 Things Americans Waste Their Money On, and they are:

  1. Credit Card Interest
  2. Deal Websites
  3. Appetizers
  4. ATM fees
  5. Overdraft Fees
  6. Speedy Shipping
  7. Designer Baby clothes
  8. Unused gym memberships
  9. Premium cable packages
  10. Daily coffee trips

I agree that some of these are wasteful, for instance #1 and #4.  There shouldn’t be any reason why you should be paying fees on things you could get for free.

My personal experience with the top ten are

  • Credit Card interest – Since I have a balance transfer on my credit card, the company is trying to have me pay interest. I will be paying the remaining balance this month so that I won’t have to deal with that anymore.
  • Deal websites – I don’t shop on deal websites, but I do occasionally take part on deals when it comes to getting cheaper quality clothing. I like to shop at H&M or take advantage of workout clothes from Hylete.
  • Appetizers – If and when I go out with my wife or friends, sometimes I’ll order an appetizer as my main dish. It comes out faster and it’s generally cheaper than a whole meal.
  • ATM fees – I don’t pay these ever.
  • Overdraft fees – I have an overdraft account that helps me speed up the process of paying down my debt.
  • Speedy Shipping – normal shipping is fine for me. I’m not in a rush for immediate gratification.
  • Designer baby clothes – I don’t buy these
  • Unused gym memberships – I go to Crossfit a 3-5 times a week. So my membership is fully used.
  • Premium cable packages – My wife pays for Netflix, and I tend not to spend too much time watching TV.
  • Daily coffee trips – I don’t drink coffee

What do you think of the list above? How do you compare to what Dave Ramsey thinks people waste their money on.

Personal Finance in Paradise – Reason Why I started this Site

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I created this site because there are may people who are being taken advantage of in the their personal lives when it comes to money. I’ve read and learned, through my own experience, that personal habits and the way you think about money has so much to do with how you have a relationship with money.

It’s been on my mind and my heart to begin a site to let others know that, if you’re in a bad financial situation, it will get better in the long run. The current stress that you’re going through is temporary. My own experience has shown, through reading and dealing with the stress, it is going to be better.

My goal is to talk about my experiences, reach out to the community to help you build new money habits, see if you have any thoughts that could be holding them back, and teach others how they are being manipulated to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like, with money they don’t have.

I’m excited to see where we will go together in our journey.

Money Moves October 2015

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Welcome to Money Moves for October. This is the section for review and to reflect on the things I have done and what could have been done better for the month. I hope you find it interesting. Hopefully it will help you make better decisions for yourself.

Let’s begin with what the end of the month with my my financial report card. It looks something like this:

Net Income from Work  $2652.99
Expenses $2652.99

Reoccurring Monthly Expenses:
Rent: $1045 1 bedroom 1 bath. It’s Hawaii, rent is expensive
Car Payment: $316.97
Student Loan $202.05
Life Insurance $187.51
Extra to debt 130.98

Assets:

Cash value in 2 life insurance policies $16,276.48
SEP IRA $11,630.85
Total: $27,907.33

Liabilities

student loan $20,023.06
Car loan $10,015.61
Chase credit card $3448.54
miscellaneous loan $6312.88
Total: ($39,800.09)

Current Net Worth: (11,892.76)

A few things to note, I had my credit card paid off, but  I had an idea a few months ago that  I could do a balance transfer and continue to use my credit card without paying interest due to the CARD Act. I wanted to continue using my credit card to take advantage of the 1% cash back, and it would benefit me as long as I continued to pay my balance off in full. I confirmed it with a representative, and he confirmed that I could use my credit card and not be charged interest.

When I got the statement the next month, I found saw that I was charged interest. I had to talk to two different managers to find out that the initial guy was wrong. I have nothing against with balance transfers, if you have a plan to pay it off and get the right information. To say the least, the idea bombed, and I get to have a nice conversation with my credit card company to reverse the interest charge.

 Another thing you might notice is that my expenses are exactly what I make in a month. I pay for all of my purchases in the same month that I charge them, and I am paying more toward the principal balance of the loan. Essentially, I am using the debt snowball method of paying down my debts.

My checking account is attached to a personal loan account where an overdraft amount is taken out to cover any charges that I make beyond what is in the account. There is no fee charged if I use the overdraft amount, which is really nice, and I am able to pay down my balances on my debts a little bit faster.

Using the debt snowball method and using all of the money in my checking account; I save a little bit on interest charged daily.

I have cash value in my whole life insurance policy (actually it’s 2 policies) that I use as a bank. Cash value life insurance has many living benefits, and being able to use the money in your policy as a “banking system” gives a person a lot of flexibility when purchasing something and being able to grow and get dividends on the amount in the policy as well.

The last thing to note is that I received income from my employelr in a retirement fund. As you can see above income, from the SEP IRA, has been into the 70% stocks and 30% into bonds. Using Fidelity as the brokerage firm, the money is invested into a few stocks of Netflix, a total stock index fund from Vanguard, and a total bond index from Vanguard. I did that so that I would have the ability to have growth in the stock market and pay the least amount of fees possible. I’ll talk about fees and how it hurts the growth of your investment in the future.

Plans for the Next Month

I’ve finalized how I am going to pay off the debt in the most efficient way. I’m going to pay off the remainder of my credit card balance with cash that is in my whole life policy. That way I won’t have to pay any interest on my credit card, and I no longer have to call my credit card company to reverse the interest charges.

Paying myself back for the loan balance I have taken out at my insurance company. The policies do not accrue interest on a daily rate like credit cards, and interest is only charged to me when my premium is due. That means that I pay my premiums in in July and October, and if there is an outstanding balance, I pay interest then. Also, I’ve got it set up where I don’t have to pay interest at all on the loan by filling up my policies before the billing statements come out.

Setting up this website and making it look presentable. I’m doing my best at getting this website started with a little mishap of setting up the domain and host of the site. As this site begins to grow, I hope that I can add more to it in the future.

Welcome to Personal Finance in Paradise – What This Site is About

Welcome to part two of my financial adventure. I’ve been wanting to heart a blog and put my thoughts out into the world so that people can learn from what I have been learning. I feel that people can learn from my mistakes and also from my victories along the journey.

I hope you get to share some thoughts with me along the way, and that we are able to learn from each other.

I’m excited to be able to go on this journey with you, and that we are able to be driven to grow your net worth, destroyed debt, be able to construct good habits around money, and change your mindset along the way to become prosperous during the journey.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for joining me