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Syndicated Publications

Increasing Your Income to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Republished from Latino Lubbock Magazine, April 2018 Issue

Making your budget last month, you probably realized it might take longer to achieve your goal. Continue cutting expenses, but this month, focus on increasing your income to achieve your financial goal faster too.

The first thing to do is take your tax refund and put it toward your goal. If you got a refund, you withheld too much money from your paycheck last year. You gave the IRS a free loan. Adjust your W4 so that you don’t owe the IRS money and the IRS doesn’t owe you money either. Then, allocate the extra money in your paychecks toward your goal.

Next, have a garage sale. It’s springtime, which means time for spring-cleaning! Go through your closets, garage, and attic—everywhere you use as storage. If you haven’t touched something in the last 6 months, it’s unlikely you’ll ever touch it again. Put it up for sale on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Garage Sale Finder.

Lastly, take an inventory of your skills. Tactfully ask your boss for a raise. Update your resume and either start applying for a new full-time job or take on a side hustle. Try temping for one-time events. You only temp when you’re free and you feel like it. Any small increase in income helps you achieve your goal, as a small amount of money adds up to a huge amount over time.

Syndicated Publications

Creating Your Financial Plan

Republished from Latino Lubbock Magazine, March 2018 Issue.

“Most people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” [Quote by John L. Beckley] Your financial life is no different. You must have a spending plan or else you will fail. Tell every dollar you receive what to do. The first time takes only 30 minutes. After overcoming the learning curve, it should take only 10 minutes.

First, write this month’s household income on a piece of paper. Before you do anything with your money, you must pay yourself first. Consider your financial future as a bill. So write down 10% of your income; that will be your emergency savings. Underneath, write the amount to save for your New Year’s goal every month.

Second, budget your tithes, mortgage/rent, bills, and groceries. Then budget all lifestyle expenses: anything that’s nice to have but you could do without. In this step, refer to your spending diary and bill payment tracker.

Third, total your savings and expenses. Does the total equal your household income exactly? If yes, you’re good. If not, adjust your expenses until it does. Consider canceling your cable and gym membership. Try switching cell phone providers and auto insurance companies.

You will do this every month for the rest of your life. Your future is in your hands.

Syndicated Publications

Clarity From Clutter

Republished from Latino Lubbock Magazine, February 2018 Issue.

Last month’s issue was on goal setting. Now that you have a goal, take small steps toward achieving it. Here are some ideas to keep you on track.

The first baby step is to organize your financial paperwork. Invest in a simple filing cabinet and folders. Organize utility bills, pay stubs, bank and credit card statements less than two years old. Also keep important documents such as active deeds, insurance policies, receipts for big-ticket items, marriage licenses, wills, birth certificates, tax returns, and year-end investment statements. Shred papers you don’t need.

The next baby step is to track your bills. Don’t get caught off guard! Write the due dates for all bills for the rest of the year. In addition to monthly expenses such as mortgage/rent, utilities, and loan payments, include periodic expenses such as insurance, vehicle registration, car repairs, tuition, school supplies, birthday gifts, property taxes, etc. These expenses occur infrequently, making them easy to forget about.

Lastly, simplify your bill paying process. Set up automatic bill pay. If you do it manually, pay your bills either on payday or weekly or bimonthly. And of course, check your bank account balance first, or else you’ll overdraft.

Syndicated Publications

New Year’s Resolutions

Republished from Latino Lubbock Magazine, January 2018 Issue.

It’s the New Year and you know what that means: New Year’s resolutions! Everyone sets them. Almost everyone, including me, fails to keep them by the second week. I’ll let you in on a secret I learned recently that worked for me. The secret is to set goals, not resolutions.

To better your money management, set only one goal to either save money or reduce debt. Your goal must be reasonable enough that it is challenging but not impossible to meet. It also needs to be specific with a dollar amount and a deadline. Do not say, “I want to be debt free.” Say, “I want to pay off my $1,800 credit card debt by December 31.” Working backwards from there that would be $150/month or $4.93/day, which is doable.

Now determine your motivation. In my example, it could be to reduce your stress or to free your future income for other things like retirement. Remind yourself of your goals with sticky notes around the house. I like to put my sticky notes on my bathroom mirror so that it is the first thing I see in the morning. Everyday I must make one small step toward that goal. If I don’t by the end of the day, then I remind myself of the consequences I face if I keep doing that.

One tiny step you can take everyday starting today is tracking your expenses. Buy a pocket-sized notebook and write your financial goal on the first page. As you shop throughout the day, keep all receipts. At night, write the date, the item description, and the amount. This is a game changer. When you do this, there is no doubt you will find extra money spent here and there that could have gone toward your meeting your goal.