Brainy Chick Finance

4 Easy Things To Do Financially in the New Year

4 Easy Things To Do Financially in the New Year

  1. Track Your Net Worth
  2. Look at Your Spending Categories
  3. Evaluate Your Budget
  4. Set a Financial Goal

 

Track Your Net Worth

Start an excel spreadsheet, a notebook, a sticky pad – anything where you can current write down your net worth. To be able to grow your wealth, you will want to start tracking how your net worth is impacted.

Your net worth is comprised of all of your assets (house, art, car, furniture, money, valuables, etc) minus your liabilities (car insurance, mortgage, student loans). You might be surprised at the number. Each month you want to do this calculation and work towards moving your net worth to more and more.

Total time spent: 15 minutes / 5 minutes if you have tracked your net worth before)

 

Look at Your Spending Categories

Write down (or print out) all of your spending for Oct, Nov, Dec (probably your most heavy spending months). And then for each month group how much you spent in general categories, eating out, gas, rent, cell phone, etc.

How do you like your spending? Was it within your original budget? Did you not have a budget but you cant believe you spent $300 a month on eating out? Highlight the areas where you want to improve. Chances are, if it is worrisome in the latter part of the year, they probably were not that great at the rest of the year either.

Total time spent: 20 minutes / 10 minutes if you have tracked via Mint.com, PersonalCapital.com, etc before)

 

Evaluate Your Budget

Take your last month’s expenses and do a work back budget. (and I know that December was a holiday month, so there can be some unusual factors). Take your expenses for the month (on your debit and credit cards) and subtract them from your income. For example:

Gas – $20

Cell Phone – $50

Rent – $1250

Dog Supplies – 21.99

Gas – $21

Etc…

And say your income was $4000 for December, subtract the (currently, $1362.99) and see where you end up.

Chances are, you might be in the negative for the month, meaning you over spent.

Next steps are to determine what of the expenses could you go with out, or possibly, how you can increase your income.

Total time spent: 20 minutes / 10 minutes if you have tracked via Mint.com, PersonalCapital.com, etc before)

 

Set a Financial Goal

Similar to New Year’s Resolutions, you will want to set a goal that will positively impact your finances. The goal can be small, like start a savings account for emergencies or a large one, like set up a plan to become a millionaire. Either way, you want to make sure that a goal is set so that you have something to work towards.

Write down your goal where you can see it.

Total time spent: 5 minutes / 30 seconds to write it down where you can see it)

Holiday Tipping 101

Holiday Tipping 101
Here’s who you should tip — and how much:

As first posted by Nicole Lapin on NicoleLapin.com

Personal employees: If you have a housekeeper, nanny, personal trainer, dog-walker, or any other person who is regularly working in your home, they come first. The custom is to tip them a day’s wages, but I also like the idea of giving them an extra day off if you can manage (after all, they probably have holiday shopping of their own to tackle!). If you do go the cash route, tuck it inside a festive card with a thoughtful note from the whole family. Gift cards are also a nice gesture, but unless you know their tastes, keep it generic (Visa or Target gift cards are usually a safe bet).

Doorman and superintendent: If you live in an apartment building or condo complex, your doorman and superintendent are the next group of people with whom you probably have the most day-to-day contact. Tipping varies wildly by region, just as rent does, so asking your neighbors (especially those who have lived in the building for a while) is a good way to start. If you’re still not sure, calculate 5% of your monthly rent and offer that as a cash tip. Homemade gifts like cookies and candy are also a nice reminder that you appreciate the work they do for your home.

Mail Carrier: You may not see him or her every day, but your mail carrier is probably the busiest person you know this time of year. Just remember that U.S. Postal Service regulations prohibit them from collecting a tip or gift worth more than $25. A small cash tip left inside a holiday card is fine, and how nice for them to open your mailbox only to find something addressed to them! Otherwise leaving out brownies, candy canes, and other treats is always appreciated.

Teachers: Don’t tip your teacher (or your child’s). Just don’t. It’s inappropriate for someone who is so intimately involved with your or your child’s development and could even be seen as a bribe. Instead, opt for a small, thoughtful gift like a wall calendar or plant for the classroom. And remember to keep it secular, especially if the teacher works at a public school. If you or your child has more than one teacher, it’s completely acceptable to award only those who have had a particular impact or with which you have formed a closer connection.

Beauty Squad: If you’re like many women, you’re probably going to see your hairdresser, nail technician, and other beauty experts during the holidays; after all, a gal’s gotta look good for the annual holiday card photo! So there’s no need to seek them out for a tip; just tack on an extra 5% to what you usually tip at your next appointment. You can adjust this amount based on how often you see them: if you only get your hair cut twice per year, an extra 3% is totally understandable. But if you’re an “every 4 to 6 weeks” kind of gal, you may want to ramp it up to 7% or even 10% for all the time you spend in their chair.

Servers and Bartenders: There’s no need for more substantial tipping at restaurants and bars around the holidays, but of course if you feel compelled go right ahead. Instead, remember that this is a hectic time of year for any waitstaff, and make sure to let them know you appreciate their service (if it’s good, of course). A quick “thank you” or “happy holidays” after your signature will be welcome cheer when they collect your bill at the end of the night.
…and remember, no matter who you’re tipping or how much, it’s the delivery that counts. Always include a personal note, especially in the event that you’re giving less than usual — or can’t afford to give it all. That way your recipient will feel appreciated regardless of the dollar amount inside. And that’s what this season is all about, right??

How the Presidential Election Could Impact Your Money

How the Presidential Election Could Impact Your Money

Watching the presidential elections always makes me think about my money. While there are a ton of important issues, I always relate it back to how is this going to impact me? And many of their positions and policies are focused around money or could impact my money in ways that I cannot control.

How the Presidential Election Could Impact Your Money

Regardless of which side you relate to most, regardless of who becomes President, their policies could impact your future. The presidential election could impact your money.

Taxes

Their economic policies could cost you money. If you are working towards earning more, you could move up a tax bracket, causing you to pay more in taxes. One way to circumvent this is to put your money in as many retirement vehicles as possible that will tax you in a lower income bracket today versus when you get closer to retirement.

Recommendation: Max out your 401k, max out a Roth IRA

Increase in interest rates

With interest rates so low, there is nowhere for them to go but up. What does that mean if you are looking to buy a home, car, or even student loans? Basically, with the historical all-time low rates, there could be a chance that the Federal Reserve will raise them in December. For a big purchase, every time that interest rate increases, you can feel the sting.

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Foreign Policy

While their decisions will impact foreign policy, and the outlook on foreign affairs, it could trickle down to the travel that you make.

Take for example, the Brexit vote a few months ago, not only did it affect foreign policy, but the pound is worth much less compared to the USD. In this example, if you are from the US and have any interest in traveling to England specifically, within the next year or so you might start to plan your trip. With the pound being down, our USD can go much further over there. Translation: it will be cheaper to travel and stay in England.

Oil Prices

Not to get too deep into the interconnectedness of the oil industry, but as of today, oil prices are relatively low compared to a few years ago. But that does not mean that they won’t fluctuate when a new President comes into term.

While your econ class might seem a distant memory, supply and demand does affect price, so you could see gas prices go up in the future. While prices at the pump might not seem like they change that much, a major jump like a $1/gallon could mean an extra $40 every time you fill up. And within a month, that can be close to $100 depending on your driving.

Recommendation: Evaluate your budget and if gas prices go up, can you budget support an equivalent to an extra tank of gas each month. If it can’t, look into cutting one thing out of your budget or look into how you can increase what you are making.

When it comes time to vote in November, make sure you look at how the policies could impact you and your wallet not just today but in the future.

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