Financial Secrets Revealed for 2019

For the past 16 years, Lesia and I have had an annual year-end review meeting the final week of the year. During this time, we review all things financial and discuss whether or not we exceeded, met, or did not meet our goals. It is also a time to reflect on the year and reminisce about trips we have taken and any other personal or professional highlights.
The first five items on our list are:
  • Year-end net worth
  • Net worth increased/decreased by: (It has gone down once in 16 years, remember the market decline in 2008?)
  • Giving (i.e., non-profits, gifts, volunteer hours)
  • Amount saved
  • Savings rate as a percentage of gross income
To my surprise, there are another 54 bullet points (i.e., noteworthy items) to discuss for 2018. If you are curious, like me, I wanted to know how many items were on our list the first full year (2003) after we were married...13 (you have to start somewhere). One of the most intriguing facts was that we had a goal to save 10% of our gross income for retirement. It's funny how 10% seemed like a huge amount back then. We also put $1,000 in our 2003 vacation account. How ironic that nowadays people spend more than that, per person, during the holidays.
Another item that caught my attention from 2003 was our goal to "set up household finance files and banking accounts." The weird part is that we still use the same system today. For example, we have accounts for household expenses, personal allowances, travel and emergencies. 

Some of the file folder names are Health, Life, Auto, Homeowner, Birth Certificates & Passports, and Estate Planning. This allows us to keep our important documents organized and stored in a place that is easily accessible (tip for reducing financial stress).
Unfortunately, I do not have any juicy financial secrets to share. Our systems are boring but simple is what works best. What is working for you?
Uncle Seizes Opportunity for Teachable Moment

A few weeks ago, my 11 year old nephew was talking about buying stock in Dollar General after he realized how many inexpensive items/toys they had which he liked. I gave him an assignment so he could learn more about Dollar General and today he said, "This is too much reading." Now the following text thread should make sense.

Do Holiday Budgets Really Work?

Here's a message I received from a young lady who receives our newsletter.

"I have a special saving account that I use for holiday gifts each year. Last year I spent more money than anticipated even though I saved all year.  When I shared this with you, you asked if I had a budget for that savings account and of course I didn't. I met my savings goal last week so last night I made the budget for that account. Now, when I start my gift shopping I know exactly how much to spend on each gift for each person. And....I hope to have some leftover for me :) "

Reducing Financial Stress During the Holidays

Quick tips from my appearance on ISSUES (aired 12/9 in Cincinnati) discussing ways to reduce financial stress during the holidays.
  1. Develop a plan (create itemized list of people for whom you're purchasing gifts)
  2. Determine amount to spend per person
  3. Resist the temptation to overspend using fake income (i.e., credit cards)
  4. Give the gift of your time (coupon for a free night of watching someone's children, coupon for a home cooked meal, coupon for house cleaning) and whatever else type of coupon you can give that would make someone else happy.
Cinema Visit Creates Saving Opportunity

One of the cinemas near our house has a special on the weekends. All showings before noon are $5.59. As you can imagine, I can't remember the last time we went to the movies after 12pm. LOL! I wanted the full movie  experience so I packed an empty water bottle and strawberry peach drink mix. When I walked in the door, I filled my bottle and added the drink mix. I paid $5.59 for the ticket but had a $10  experience since I had my own drink. 

Food for Thought

Give Thanks!

Last month, I had the most amazing conversation while sitting at the bar to have lunch. The bartender mentioned that his brain burst (can't recall the medical terminology) a few years ago. He would have died if he had been alone because the burst paralyzed him (he had to learn to walk again). He mentioned that he can't work as much as he used to and makes less money than in the past. He said going through that experience taught him how much he took life for granted. He used to love hanging out at bars and spending money frivolously and now enjoys sitting in the park observing nature. He also learned that people he thought were his friends actually were not (they vanished after his illness). He said his new life is all about "living and loving." What an inspiration.

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