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Edition 1: "Diet" Tips for any (Financial) Age 

Do you like the word BUDGET any more than the word DIET? 


We don’t tend to see them as the path to something even better than short-term, short-lived immediate gratification. 

With a diet, in order to be healthy in the long run, you actually need to stop dieting and start adopting different habits, little by little. 

They pay off in feeling better, having less worry, feeling more powerful in your life. A great side effect is that you are modeling this for younger members of your family.

This is the same with your budget. Whether you are a child with your first allowance or just recently retired it is always good practice to have a plan for your money.  Once you build your budget, then it just takes some healthy habits to stay on track.

With many people, they lose weight not because there was anything magical about their method; it was simply because they adopted a sustainable method and have started giving attention and awareness to what they eat.

Along the way, just like when we are working on getting healthier and slimmer, we will have setbacks, but there is no reason to throw in the towel feeling like a lost cause.  

Each day presents a new opportunity to use good strategies and better choices well before more ground is lost.

If the thought of digging through all your spending seems overwhelming, then let’s start with a few tips. Take a look at this article Budget Tips you Can Use at Every Age by Tamara Snyder. If you are ready to dive right in here are 8 Steps to Creating a Personal Budget by Sienna Kossman. Now you are ready to start plugging in the numbers. Use this Budget Worksheet to help.

Edition 2: Knowing your "Life Values" 

The decisions you make are guided by your “life values” according to the very useful website www.smartaboutmoney.org by the NEFE (National Endowment for Financial Education). If you think about the life values of the people around you, parents, kids, partners, siblings, you may notice they differ. This can cause clashing opinions about the way family members view and manage their lives around the use of money.

At HFM we have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of differing “life values” as they pertain to making decisions about money.  A good way to avoid the bad and the ugly is to start with learning and respecting each family member’s “life values” and discovering how to explore the positives and negatives of each to frame your goals. At HFM we help our clients build a plan to fit everyone’s needs.

To help you get started, read the article What are the Four LifeValues. Then complete the questionnaire Which Life Value Drives You? to see where you fall.

This will give you the basic understanding. Use these other great N.E.F.E. tools to help you put it to use.

How to Use What You Have Learned About Your Life Values

Additional Life Value Exercises

Life Values for Spouses and Partners

Edition 3: Money Basics for Kids and Teens 

Discussing money with your kids or grandkids can be tricky. There is a fine line between too much information and too little. The goal is to make it fun and give them some responsibilities to make their own choices.

One great tip is to get your kids involved in making some age-appropriate family decisions. Help them learn by doing. 

Take a look at this article by Charles Schwab Money Basics for Kids and Teens. Charles Schwab offers many tools and resources to help start the discussion with your kids and teens.

Are you on the right track when teaching your kids about finances? Take this Money Quiz to see. Here are some great Hands-on Activities as well.

Interested in a more formal sit down? Feel free to contact us and we can teach your kids what we do and the importance of having a plan. 

Edition 4: College Grads-Tackling Next Steps in Life 

You’ve just graduated from college and hopefully have a great job ahead of you that will lead to a long career. Whether you have a job or not at this point, there are a lot of big decisions you will have to make, in the next couple years. Do you live at home or do you get your own place? Share a place or live alone? Do you invest in your 401k or wait? When is the time to do those things that make you feel like a “real” adult? How to afford anything, with all of your bills?

The golden rule to follow, no matter what decisions you make is Spend Less Than You Earn. If you can manage to make that mantra your foundation, it will serve you well your whole life.

For specifics, the best place to start is to follow these 11 Essential Money Tips for New College Grads, by Kerry Hannon, contributor to Forbes.com. To dive a little deeper into your personal finances check out The New College Grad’s Guide to Money by Kaitlin Mulhere.

If your family member is ready to jump right in, contact us about some tools. Here at HFM we have a great tool for all of our clients, accessible through your own personal web portal. The Web Portal allows you to create a budget, track your spending, and see all your accounts in one place.

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Edition 5: Life in Your 30s 

Turning the big 3-0 is a leap into adulthood, if life circumstances haven’t already taken you there. You can no longer get away with the same antics as in your 20s. All of a sudden you may be expected to make life long choices and have your financial life in order. You start to think about marriage, kids, college costs, a forever home, retirement and worrying about how can I make it all work. To many of us this can be so overwhelming that it paralyzes us, or it prevents us from making good decisions. Or we feel like those days are still too far in the future and we have plenty of time to delay thinking about them. The good news is we are here to help when you’d like some guidance, or prefer a sounding board that is outside your family dynamic. Remember that even a small start can have a big impact on the future. And give yourself a big advantage over many people by avoiding these common 11 Money Mistakes.

As you start thinking about big purchases like a car and home your credit score becomes more and more critical in these decisions. The best way to improve your credit score is to know what it is and what factors affect it. Take a look at Charles Schwab’s Understanding Your Credit Score.

Edition 6: Buying a Home Is Just a Transaction...Right? 

Buying a new home. Oh how easy it is to get wrapped up in the emotion of it all.  It doesn’t matter whether you work with numbers professionally or not.   We know how easy it is to be more consumed by the paint color and how to decorate it than resale value and mortgages. If you watch those DIY and house-hunting shows, you know how they help play up the fantasy of it all. But if you listen closely, they also have some great tips on not only finding and sorting out what is a good home for you now but also making it more likely it will serve you well in the future.   HGTV.com offers this great article on 10 Best Kept Secrets for Buying a Home.

And if there are two of you involved?   You know it’s guaranteed that disagreements are going to emerge, whether you are buying a house or even just renovating.  But disagreements are not insurmountable.   Take this Questionnaire to prepare to deal with the other’s perspective in a useful way.

Not sure you’re ready? 

Some people are so overwhelmed with the commitment and enormity of purchasing a home they would much rather rent.  What is better for you, Rent or Buy? Here are 7 Questions to help you decide.

Logistics are key too when it comes to purchasing your first home.  Here are a few Money Essentials to put you on the right track.   

Caution:  A lender may approve for you a larger size mortgage than the real-life concept of what you can comfortably afford, given other demands on your income.  Do not rely on that approval as your yardstick.  Avoid using rosy projections about your career/salary bumps and your DIY prowess to make up for overreaching.  You want to be able to sleep at night, furnish the house, and have a leisure life.   Questions how to analyze that in more depth?  Contact Us.

Edition 7: Saving for College 

Going off to school can be stressful for all parties. Your kids or grandkids are excited and nervous to be living on their own. You will miss them terribly, if not their laundry. Everybody talks about the excitement and experiences of this new adventure but too often there is little discussion around how college will be paid for and by whom. What better financial lesson than making it all explicit between everyone by sitting down with this great calculator. It helps you to determine how much you and your child/grandchild will need to have saved.

The earlier you start the easier it will be to build up the required funds. Building your child’s early awareness about money choices can pave the way for engaging them about the concept of saving for college, and their participation in the burden. Start with these Smart Money Habits.

If you are ready to get into the nitty gritty of planning to save for college, or just brought the baby home from the hospital, here is a great Family Guide. This family guide covers all the bases from tax incentives to saving options to financial aid and much more. It gives you amazing tips that you can put into practice right away.

Edition 8: Saving for Retirement 

Life flies by and next thing you know retirement is no longer decades away. As you approach retirement it is very easy to become overwhelmed with thoughts of I wish I could have saved more and did I do enough. Obviously, the earlier you save the better chance you have of being ready for retirement. But there are other factors that you need to be prepared for. Much comes down to a reality check on what life will look like in retirement. Check out this article on The 5 Biggest Retirement Planning Mistakes You Can Avoid (Click continue to article to avoid ads). These tips will help you envision and plan for life in retirement. We also have some great videos and information about retirement planning on our website: I worry my retirement won’t play out the way I pictured it.

 

For those of you who are all about the numbers take a look at this great Retirement Snapshot. How does your snapshot look?

 

A Jan 7 2017 Wall Street Journal article by Yuka Hayashi, called “More Older Americans Taking Out Student Loans”, pointed out a dangerous trend around parents/grandparents increasingly choosing to co-sign student loans, as opposed to funding 529 plans. The WSJ article referenced and linked to a  report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which in its report pointed to “debt burden impacting borrowers’ later-life financial security”.  The CFPB report points out the potential for older borrowers under a federal student loan program to have their Social Security or tax refunds offset in the event that the child’s or grandchild’s loan goes into default.

Edition 9: Communication is Key 

Yes, this sounds cliché. Of course you need to communicate to make things work, but many families and couples just don’t put in the time. Clear and honest communication is never easy. When we start the journey as a couple, it's easy to think it’s simple: what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours, or, we are a couple so we ought to agree on everything. But very soon that changes. To start well, or to improve matters at any point in a relationship, explore how to be open to discussing a plan. Follow this article on The Best Ways To Prevent Money Arguments With Your Spouse.

 

Starting to build a family typically shifts our focus toward looking at the long term. What do I want to teach my children? How do I want them to look at money? What do I want my legacy to look like? A lot of these questions can be answered by clearly communicating your views with the next generation. Here are 5 ways families can shape their financial legacies.

Edition 10: Importance of Having a Plan 

In our Back to School Series, we covered a variety of topics from budgets to values. We offered perspective on some of the hurdles at different stages of life.

In this last installment, we support the idea that no matter the stage, the best way to hit your goals is with a plan…And often, getting a sense of what “Plan B” might look like doesn’t hurt either.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

 

What does your future look like and how can you get there? The summertime dreaming is the easy part.   Let HFM help you build the plan to reach your goals. Click here to contact us.