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Where does all the money go?

By | 2018, Money Matters | No Comments

Why does the word budget feel like a personal judgment? Maybe it’s because creating a budget may uncover the spending we know is happening, but don’t want to address. It brings out some feelings of guilt.

Let’s ditch the word budget and call it a spending plan.  Now we are in control. The truth is following a spending plan provides some freedom. Regardless of our age, we need to have a plan. When starting out, a spending plan allows us to have what we need for today while also planning for future needs. It gives us the green light to spend a predetermined amount on things we want and enjoy. Without a plan, we spend first, then save what’s left over. This is a recipe for financial disaster. Too often there is nothing left over at the end of the month. The result, nothing gets saved for the future.

Later in life, we have some financial flexibility and incorrectly believe we no longer need to worry about a spending plan. This is also a recipe for financial disaster.  At retirement are income sources become limited. Making sure our nest egg is available to provide income for the lifestyle we want, throughout our retirement years, becomes paramount. After all, who wants to reduce their standard of living at the time we should be enjoying the fruits of our labor?

Creating a spending plan will take some thought and time but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are some tips:

  1. Look over your expenses for the past year to determine where your money is going. If you haven’t been tracking your spending, begin doing so.
  2. Categorize your expenditures by non-discretionary and discretionary.
    a. Non-discretionary includes things you must have; groceries, mortgage, rent, utilities.
    b. Discretionary includes things you like to have; cable, eating out, entertainment.
  3. Determine your goals – saving for retirement, down payment on a home, travel.
  4. Decide how much you need to put aside to reach your goals. Then break it down to a monthly amount.
  5. Review your discretionary spending to determine where you could cut back in if needed.
  6. Follow your spending plan. In the beginning, it will be hard and may require a few tweaks.
  7. Use an app or excel spreadsheet to help track your spending.
  8. Review and adjust regularly.

Now congratulate yourself. You have taken the first step to financial freedom!

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Giving Back

By | 2018, Money Matters | No Comments

Finding opportunities to give back was a consistent theme among the participants at the Just for Women 2018 conference. We agree. Giving has an empowering effect on the giver, the charity that serves a need, and most importantly, on the recipients. The desire to give back is innate – not generally driven by financial benefits. Having said that, there are ways you can give that benefit both you and the charity; financially speaking. Here are two that you may want to consider.

Donation-in-kind. If you have an investment in a non-retirement account, you can donate the investment directly to a qualified charity. By doing this you completely avoid capital gains taxes. Furthermore, if you itemize your taxes, you can claim the value of the investment, on the day it was donated, as a deduction. The key benefit is that the charity receives the full value of the donation tax-free. One caveat; you must have owned the investment for at least one year and one day and it must have increased in value.

Qualified Charitable Distribution. If you have reached the wonderful age of 70½, congratulations! Uncle Sam has been waiting for this day. It is at this age that you are required to take money out of your retirement accounts; i.e. IRA, 401(k), 403(b). This is called a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) and will occur every year going forward. If your retirement account is an IRA, you can choose to have the money you are required to take out – all or part – go directly to your favorite charity, taking advantage of the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) option. The benefit to you – you do not have to claim the distribution as income or pay tax on the money that comes out. This is valuable because the distribution will not have a negative impact on your Medicare Part B premiums. The benefit to the charity – it receives the full value of your donation; tax-free.

I have the pleasure of working with the Utah Parent Center, a local charity that has served families of people with disabilities for over 35 years. I have been impressed by the positive influence they have on so many lives. While they have served more than 25,000 individuals, there are many more who could benefit from the services they provide. However, they need the support of our community to provide services to those additional people. One family’s story is below.

If you would like more information on making a donation-in-kind or qualified charitable distribution using your investments call our office at 801-355-8888. To donate directly to Utah Parent Center, use this link: https://utahparentcenter.org/donate/.

Together, we can make a difference.

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Increase the fun… not the expense!

By | 2018, Money Matters | No Comments

Did someone say “Summer”?

It’s finally here and vacation planning is in full swing. How do you enjoy your vacation without the financial worry of vacation spending? Here are 3 financial tips to get more fun and enjoyment for your time and money.

Tip 1 – Everyday doesn’t need to include costly entertainment. Do some research before you go. It’s amazing what you can find to do for free—public parks, hiking, lakes, art exhibits, museums. Check the local tourism site before you go to see what’s happening when you’re in town. They can provide information on popular, and less known, places to see and things to do.

Tip 2 – Save some extra cash for the fun stuff by renting a vacation suite or villa. It’s easy to underestimate the cost of food when eating out three meals a day. Suites and Villas have small kitchens giving you the option to eat breakfast and a few meals in. They also provide space to spread out and relax after your day of fun. Pick up some snacks to munch on while playing and avoid spending on high priced treats at tourist destinations.

Tip 3 – Yes, impulse buying happens, even while on vacation. To avoid this, give yourself, and your fellow travelers a souvenir budget – in cash. When the money is gone, the spending ends. T-shirts, hats, and other theme-related souvenirs are generally available online at a better price. Purchase them before you go and wear them to the theme park. If you see something you like at the local boutique or gift shop, ask if there is a company website. If you’re still thinking about the item when you get home, buy it online. This will cut down on impulse spending and you’ll avoid the peril of packing your souvenirs for the journey home.

Wishing you a summer packed with fun!

Sharla J. Jessop, CFP®
President

Bonus Tip – Leaving town? Before you go, let your credit card company know you will be traveling. Your credit card provider may view a charge as suspect if made from another state. It can be extremely frustrating if your credit card is rejected when you’re trying to make a purchase. I’m speaking from experience!

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Just for Women – Cooking with Herbs

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

Rufo Dina, the executive chef at Archibald’s Restaurant in Gardner Village, gave us a cooking demonstration on how to cook with herbs. He prepared the two recipes below and they were a hit!

Other tips from Rufo:

  • Add dry spices to food early so they have time to soften up.
  • Use less dry spices because the flavor is more concentrated and potent.

Bruschetta
Dice tomatoes and mix in a little olive oil, fresh chopped basil, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper. Place on sliced, toasted baguette. Then top with fresh mozzarella and balsamic glaze.

Fried Green Tomatoes
Slice green tomatoes, coat in all-purpose flour, dip in buttermilk and then coat with panko breadcrumbs. Place tomatoes in hot oil (about 350°F). Fry until slightly browned on each side.

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Just For Women – Container Gardening–Vegetables and Herbs

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

We had the wonderful opportunity to have Becky Pulver return. She works with J&J Garden Center in their education area. This time she taught us how to have success with container gardening. She gave us these tips:

Choose the right container. It matters.
Clay is heavy and will dry your soil.
Plastic is good, but may break down in heat.
Metal is good, but can rust.
It should be big enough for the plant to grow. (The roots grow as big as the plant.)
Have holes for drainage. This is crucial! Most plants do not like “wet feet.”
Use coconut fiber to line your container, it will provide nutrients and absorb moisture.

Choose good soil and food.
Choose a good “moisture control” potting soil, or soil that contains peat moss and vermiculites. This helps your soil retain water.
Feed plants when you first pot and monthly thereafter.
When looking at fertilizer: 16-16-16.
First 16 is Nitrogen for green and growth.
Second 16 is Phosphorus for blooms and fruit.
Third 16 is Potassium or Potash for roots/stems.

Choose appropriate plants.
Compact “bush” or have a determined size.
Herbs are great to grow in a container.

Water, water, water.
In the heat of the summer, you will need to water your container every day.

The best things about container gardening: You can move your container and grow anything you want in it.

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Just For Women – Let it Grow

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

Sharla J. Jessop, President of SFS, taught us at the Just for Women conference how to “Let it Grow” from a wealth perspective.

She reminded us that “The best way to attain money and wealth in life is no secret … spend less than you make!” She went on to teach us the best way to have your wealth grow.

When investing, manage your risk and don’t freak out! Make sure you are emotionally comfortable with your investment plan.

Protect what you have with a “financial bodyguard.” This is someone to watch over your wealth when you can’t. Finally, make sure your beneficiaries are up to date and educate yourself about cyber threats.

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2018 Just For Women – Let it Grow!

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

Mark your calendars and plan to attend the
3rd annual “Just for Women” event.

Friday, May 11th

The Gathering Place
at Gardner Village

9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Start with a delicious breakfast, brush up on
your financial knowledge, and get fun ideas for spring.
We hope to see you there.

RSVP required. Call 801-355-8888.
Watch your mailbox and inbox for more details.

*Financially Aware Family * U.S. Economic Impact * Financial Confidence*

*Fresh Herb Cooking * Container Gardening*

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Financially Savvy Women

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

Just Getting Started

You are starting your financial life with a blank canvas. . . you are the artist. You can create a lifetime of financial freedom if you start with a few simple habits and follow them purposefully.

3 Tips to get you headed in the right direction:

1. Get a handle on your spending and keep debt at a minimum. Save for the things you want rather than borrowing. It may take longer but the reward will be that much sweeter.

2. Determine your top three financial goals—build emergency savings, get out of debt, buy a car, save for a down payment for a home, etc.—and create a plan of action.

3. Let compound interest work for you. Contribute to a 401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA and be sure to capture the full company match.

Settling Into Life

Mid-life offers the opportunity to regroup. Your family has a routine, your career is well underway, and you are looking to the future. This is an ideal time to create or refine your financial plan.

You may have up to 20 years before your retirement dream becomes a reality. Focusing on these items will help you reach your goals:

Increase your retirement contribution. If you are falling short, you still have time to make an impact.

Get rid of mortgage debt before you retire. Debt in retirement can reduce your standard of living and prevent you from living the way you had hoped.

Update your financial plan. Make adjustments if needed.

On Your Own

Suddenly single. . . now what? You may find yourself unexpectedly on your own. While the prospects of being on your own may seem overwhelming, we are here to help guide you through this transition.

4 items to focus on first. Taking control of your financial situation will give you confidence and peace of mind:

1. Sources of income. They may include your salary, insurance proceeds, assets from a settlement.

2. Outgoing expenditures. What expenses will you have monthly and annually.

3. Update documents. Insurance and retirement plan beneficiaries.

4. Review portfolio and plan. This includes investment holdings and options. Make sure they still meet your needs.

Reaping Life’s Rewards

You are living the life you’ve dreamed of and enjoying your standard of living. Count on living a long life. Now is the time to get your house in order—so to speak. What’s your financial legacy? Money . . . or financial values.

Top goals. These are the things that should be top on your list:

Review your income plan. Make sure your money lasts as long as you do.

Update your estate planning documents. Do they meet your goals? Determine the best way to pass assets to the next generation.

Have a family meeting. If you want your family to be involved, they need to know what to expect.

Designate a trusted contact who can help you financially.

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Be Smarter with Your Money

By | 2018, Money Moxie | No Comments

Women outlive men by an average of 5 years. That means women can’t treat their finances exactly as men treat theirs. Women need to think about money for the long term, that way they can retire worry-free. Here are some things women should be doing now to prepare for the future.

1. Invest early – Why? Because you will need more. After retirement, women will have around three decades to enjoy their lives. Take advantage of your paychecks now. Enroll in a 401(k) or open a Roth IRA. The longer you are invested, the more compound interest you stand to accrue–which means you are making more money. It is never too late to start investing no matter what your age– even $100 can make a huge difference (maybe giving up your Diet Coke habit). It is satisfying to watch your money multiply.

2. Keep your eye on the goal – Because you have more time, that means there are more possibilities for things to go wrong, anything from divorce to job loss or death. It is a great idea to have multiple “what if” scenarios in your plan and have regular financial checkups. Discuss your long-term goals with your Smedley Financial advisor, who can help you stay on track.

3. Get involved in your finances – even if your spouse is the one “who does it.” You should know what is coming in and going out each month. It is important to “know” about your money. For example, your account numbers, passwords, etc.

4. Always be looking out for yourself – Women will spend on average 12 years out of the workforce, raising children or caring for elderly family. Even if you are not getting paid for this work, it is important to invest into an IRA and contribute as much as you can. This will help improve the financial future for you and your family. You can’t help others if you can’t help yourself.

 

Source: https://www.mfs.com/subs/redbook/pdf/redbook_fly_9_17.pdf

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Just for Women – Follow Up – Active Living

By | 2017, Money Moxie | No Comments

Active Living

Julie Roberts, Nurse Practitioner (NP) from the Intermountain LiVE Well Center in Salt Lake City, was a featured presenter at our “Just For Women” Conference held at the Gathering Place at Gardner Village. The ladies from last year’s conference requested her back. It was so great to learn from her again. She spoke on making simple changes that will help us achieve big progress in our healthy living. She focused on the four pillars of health:

1. Sleep Well: Make a sleep schedule. Stop eating two hours before bedtime. No TV, electronics, or reading in bed. Set an alarm to go to bed. Target 7-9 hours each night. This helps manage your mood, weight, and chronic disease.

2. Stress Less: Get to know your stress and learn how to manage it. Use apps like “Insight” or “Calm” to manage your stress. Breathing techniques can help you lower your blood pressure. Start each day with 10 minutes of stillness. Take a mental break and find time to relax each day.

3. Eat Well: The key is to build daily healthy habits and stick with them. Eat a rainbow of color every day. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Eat lean meat the size of a deck of cards. Get 25-30 grams of fiber per day. Our snacks should be fruits and vegetables.

4. Move More: Get your heart rate up every day. Your goal should be 150 minutes a week of exercise. If you want to lose 1 pound a week, cut out 250 calories by exercise, and reduce your food intake by 250 calories per day. Do strength training two times a week and daily stretching exercises. Use apps as a tool to track your nutrition like “My Fitness Pal” or “Lose it.’” Use a prompt to help you remember to exercise. Keep it simple so it will work.

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