Category Archives: Money

4 Ways To Reduce Financial Stress

4 ways to reduce financial stressMoney causes nearly everyone some financial stress. Whether you’re struggling to make it through the month, have a lot of student loan debt, are middle class (whatever that means to you), or have a lot of money invested in the stock market, you likely feel some sort of financial stress at some point. It seems like there’s not always enough for everything, and we all want to get ahead and save for future purchases, so even if we’re in control of our immediate situation, there are future costs looming in the months or years ahead.

Here are a few ways to reduce that financial stress so that you can focus on the other things in life:

Automate Your Finances

If the stress of having bills arrive in the mail every few days put extra pressure on you, consider automating your finances. Have your bills be paid straight from your credit card or bank account each month. You’ll spend the same amount either way, but you’ll be spending less time worrying when the bills come in and can devote that time to something productive.

You can also sign up for paperless billing. It’s much easier to organize and deal with an email reminder of a bill than a paper one that can get lost in the clutter. If the goal is to reduce how much you worry about your financial situation, these can be crucial. Out of sight, out of mind!

Create a Budget

If money is stressing you out, you should consider creating a budget and using a service like mint.com to find out where your money is going each month. This can lead to a lot of clarity, many people don’t realize that they are spending too much in one category and relatively small changes to spending patterns can have a major impact on the bottom line. Knowing where you’re starting from can be half the battle.

Once you know where the money is going, you’ll have one less unknown factor to be concerned about. Financial stress often stems from the fear of the unknown; not knowing if you’ll be able to pay all your bills at the end of the month or what your situation will be like in the future can be a major burden. Putting it all on paper can help take away some of that unknown so we can tackle the issues in a more specific way.

Earn More Money

Nothing takes the away financial stress quite like earning more money. If you’re bring in more money and don’t let lifestyle inflation creep in, you’ll have extra money to use to pay down debt, save for a rainy day, take a vacation, or anything else you’re planning..

It doesn’t have to be a full blown side job either, it can be as simple as earning an extra $100 per month to start. Once the ball starts rolling and you look for other opportunities to make money, more and more doors seem to open up.

Set Goals For Yourself

Setting goals has been proven to have a positive affect, whether you achieve them or not. By staying accountable and measuring your progress, you’ll feel more in control of your situation and will get the needed encouragement to keep making positive changes.

This year, I set some pretty steep goals and while I likely won’t achieve all of them, they’ve helped me concentrate on what’s important and let the other things slide. I’m not stressed out about everything, I am more focused on a few specific tasks and that’s let to relative success.

Don’t Let Financial Stress Get To You

Financial stress is not something that we can easily avoid, and if affects people from all walks of life. But we can definitely take action to reduce the severity and minimize how much time we spend worrying. Take action today and see how big of an impact these tips can have!

4 Smart Ways To Pay For Your Next Vacation

4 smart ways to pay for your next vacationA recent survey conducted by American Express determined that the average American spends $1,180 per person on vacation. For a family of four the cost is $4,720 per year.

While that seems a little high for my frugal tastes the number doesn’t really surprise me.

Even though do I agree we all need a vacation from time to time, I don’t think you should take out debt to do so. Instead here are four smart ways to pay for your next vacation.

Save $23 Per Person, Per Week for a Year

Since the average vacation costs $1,180 per person you could save $23 dollars per week for one year to account for the cost. Just multiply the number of people in your family by $23 and you’ll have your weekly target amount.

By saving now you’ll have accumulated enough money to take your family on vacation debt free next year. Plus if you’re able to develop the discipline of saving a weekly amount for vacation you’ll have much more appreciation when vacation day rolls around.

Become a Travel Hacker

There’s a lot of buzz around travel hacking right now. In fact, it seems like everyone is doing it. And since so many people are jumping on the travel hacking bandwagon it might be a good idea to take advantage of it now before it all comes to an end.

Here’s how it works: you look for credit cards that have sign up bonuses for free hotels, flights, or other travel accommodations. When you find a sign up bonus that entices you you’ll simply get the credit card and make sure you complete the spending requirements in the allotted time.

Just make sure you’re not spending more money by using the credit card or paying annual fees. You’ll also need to pay your balance off in full each and every month or you’ll cancel out your rewards in terms of interest paid.

When you are rewarded one sign up bonus just rinse and repeat. Do make sure that you cancel your credit card before the annual fee kicks in.

Start a Vacation Side Hustle

There are some super simple things you can do online to earn vacation money. You can take surveys, read emails, and even rack up points for searching the web. If you’re looking for an easy side hustle that will allow you to accumulate money to go toward vacation, try signing up for Perk or Bing Rewards.

The above options aren’t going to make you a ton of money but if you have another skill or hobby you can turn that into a more lucrative side hustle.

For instance, you could freelance write, tutor, sell items online, or offer another type of service. You should be able to generate $50 a week in just a couple of hours. That will be enough to fund a trip for two after saving for a year.

Have a Huge Yard Sale

Having a yard sale is an awesome way to pay for vacation. You might not make the full amount needed for your trip but you can put a good dent in the balance.

Go through your house and start collecting all of the items you want to get rid of. You can start selling the items now on Facebook Yard Sales or Craigslist or you can let the items accumulate and host a traditional yard sale next summer.

Conclusion

Taking a vacation is expensive – there’s no doubt about it. But if you’re smart and willing to do a little work now you can make sure that you don’t have to take on debt to fund your trip.

Facing Reality Head On

Facing Reality Head OnLindsay S. Bourkoff is a financial advisor at Shrier Wealth Management LLC, a boutique wealth management firm headquartered in Los Angeles, CA. Read more about Linsday at the end of the article.

As a teenager, my father would tell me stories about how my grandparents went from riches, to rags, and riches again… many times over. My Grandfather Harold passed away a successful entrepreneur, but his road to success was paved with many financial challenges. At the height of his success, he built a mansion in Beverly Hills, only to have to sell it less than 1 year later, when he lost much of his fortune.

I write this story, not to dredge up the trauma that my grandparents faced back then, but to emphasize the importance of taking action and adjusting one’s lifestyle when faced with a prolonged financial change in one’s life.

When my grandfather lost much of his wealth and realized that his loss was not a temporary situation, instead of ignoring his new financial reality, he and my grandmother made immediate changes to their lifestyle to stem further losses. They sold their brand new house, moved to much smaller, more humble home, and made drastic cuts to their spending level.

But while this may have been an extremely difficult choice, their rapid response to their deteriorated financial situation allowed them to preserve the wealth that still remained and helped them to eventually re-build their savings.

A Real Life Example

As a financial advisor practicing in Los Angeles, I advise many clients on wealth building strategies. But all of the investing and financial planning advice is useless if an individual is in denial of his or her financial problems and unwilling to confront a change in that reality.

This week I was reminded of the virtues of my grandparents’ decisive action as I coached a long-time client through a difficult personal financial period. Her income had been seriously decreasing for nearly five years because her industry was in secular decline. For many years I had advised her to sell her luxury home (with a $7,000 monthly mortgage) and use the equity in the home to pay off expensive credit card debt. I reminded her of the necessity to reduce her spending and cut out her exorbitant restaurant bills until her income stabilized. But unfortunately, none of these changes ever occurred. My client was intent on keeping her house no matter the cost and continued spending in the manner in which she was accustomed. This past week culminated in what I would call her financial ruin. She had spent down most of her liquid assets, even taking the drastic measure to withdraw all funds from her retirement account before retirement eligibility age – 10% penalty and all.

Make A Change Before It’s Too Late

Many people in their lives will encounter a stressful financial period such as losing a job, or having a business in decline. But the key to coming out on the other end solvent is foreseeing when the problem may be prolonged and then taking action. That might force someone to make the painful decision to sell a beloved home, sell expensive artwork, or re-train to a different profession.

Part of the difficulty in convincing my client to make the necessary adjustments to her lifestyle was her consistently positive attitude that her “situation would improve soon.” Each day, she hoped that her finances would turn around. For anyone going through financial problems, this mentality is certain to help keep one’s spirits up and prevent a downward emotional spiral. But when it comes to keeping and building wealth, it is crucial that one is not blinded by optimism. Most importantly, confronting financial problems head on and making the necessary lifestyle adjustments gives one a chance at making a come-back some day and leaving a legacy that grandchildren may even talk about.

Mrs. Bourkoff graduated from Columbia University cum laude. In addition to her work as a financial advisor, Mrs. Bourkoff volunteers her time with the SIFMA Foundation dedicated to investment education for children. Lindsay can be reached at lindsay@shrierwealth.com.

Securities Offered Through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments or strategies may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.