Spring Clean Your Finances With 5 Easy Steps

Spring has been pretty much absent here in Michigan.  Last weekend we had an ice storm.  Temperatures have been about eight degrees below average for the month.  Snow showers and accumulations are still a regular occurrence.  Still, spring has to come sometime, right?   We’re still hoping.  But, even if the weather isn’t cooperating, spring is still on the calendar.  Now’s a perfect time to spring clean your finances.  Here are a few easy tips to get started.

Calculate Your Net Worth

We calculate our net worth every month, so this is easy.  But if you don’t do this regularly, now’s the perfect time.  Net worth is an easy calculation.  Simply add up all of your assets.  Then add up all of your debts.  Subtract debts from assets and that is your net worth!

Compare Net Worth To Last Year If Possible

Hopefully you know your net worth from last year, in which case you can do a comparison.  If you’re doing things right, the number is higher. If so, celebrate.  Keeping regular comparison points along the way will help show you how things are going.

If you don’t have last year’s number handy, don’t fret.  Simply mark down this year’s and do the comparison next year.  It’s never too late to get started!

Run A Credit Report

You get three free credit reports per year, one from each of the major bureaus.  Now is a perfect time to run one of your free reports.  Ideally, run one report every four months, rotating between the three.

When you get your report, look through it line by line.  Make sure you recognize every account and that the balances make sense.  This will summarize what you owe and what you can potentially borrow.  It also helps to make sure nobody has opened any credit in your name unknowingly.  Plus, you can make sure there’s nothing that’s been forgotten about.

Check On Goals And Revise Them (Or Make New Ones)

If you’re like me, you set some financial goals at the beginning of the year.  Now’s a great time to check on those and see how you’re doing.  If any revisions are necessary, make them now.  Or, if you didn’t set any goals back in January, why not set some now?  It’s never too late.  Plus, you have eight months to get things done!

Clean Up Your Tax Documents

Tax season is behind us, and unless you filed an extension, your taxes should now be filed.  Now’s the time to make sure your tax records are in order.  You need the last seven years of records in the event of an audit.  Make sure you have all of those in one place and that they’re safely locked away.  We keep ours in a fireproof safe.

If you still want to keep your records beyond seven years, I absolutely think that’s a great idea.  But, make sure that you have the last seven years worth at hand.

What Spring Cleaning Do You Do?

It’s your turn.  What spring cleaning activities do you do for your finances?  Let me know in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Why FIRE Never Would Have Worked In The Past

The latest buzzword in the personal finance community is FIRE.  Many of the most successful blogs now talk about FIRE.  For those that don’t know, FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early.  The blogging community now has many blogs where people achieve financial freedom at a young age, and can retire well before traditional retirement age.  Many boast of retiring in their 30’s.

This is a pretty cool movement, especially in the age where Millennials are breaking many of the molds created over years past.

I started thinking about it.  I came to the conclusion that FIRE probably wouldn’t have been embraced by generations past.

Here’s my take on what I think generational mindsets are regarding FIRE.

Millennials (born 1980-2000s)

I think that millennials are the heart of the FIRE movement.  Many don’t want the traditional life that they witnessed grown up.  This stands to reason that many millennials are at the heart of the FIRE movement.

Generation X (born 1965-1979)

This is probably the dividing line between acceptance of FIRE and skepticism.  Many in our generation have gone through enough recessions that we know things can change.  We’ve seen good times and bad.  The idea of FIRE sounds great, but many may see it as ‘too good to be true’.

Others in our generation still fall in the mindset that each generation should strive to be more successful than that prior.  This has been pretty hard for our generation.  There’s a lot more competition in the job market.  We’re the first generation that saw most of our parents get a pension, but very few of us will.  We have healthcare costs that previous generations did not.  For many in our generation, just trying to keep up with our parents is hard enough. Adding in the goal of early retirement can seem even further out of reach.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)

The baby boomer generation was fueled by consumerism and prosperity.  A lot of wealth was built by boomers.  While making money wasn’t ‘easy’, boomers who worked hard found money flowed in.  For many boomers, making money and achieving wealth was the goal.  The big one.

Simply put, I think many boomers would have asked why they would give up making money when there was money to still be made?

Greatest & Silent Generations (born 1910-1945)

These generations were both impacted by the Great Depression.  Because of this, FIRE would simply not have made any sense to them.  Many here saw what it was like to struggle.  To have nothing.  Many people immigrated and started with nothing.  The idea of retiring early would have been unheard of.  For many in these generations, not having enough money was a giant fear.  Even if they had enough, there was always the fear of what could happen.  Why? Because many here had seen what could happen.

I think many in this generation would have been scornful of FIRE.  To people in this generation, if you were able bodied, you worked.  That’s just the way it was.

The Late 19th Century

In the late 19th century, everything was changing.  Machines were making things easier and creating worldwide growth. Cities and population centers were exploding.  There was so much to do that everybody had to pitch in.  The demands of the world were plentiful, and everybody was expected to pitch in.

I think in this era, anybody who would have attempted FIRE would have been laughed out of whatever town they lived in.

Tribal Days (Going Way Back)

Hundreds of years ago, when we lived in tribes, everybody contributed.  Many tribes expected every person to contribute.  If you couldn’t, many tribes expelled you.  Or worse.  There would have been no FIRE here.  If you had tried to stop working, the tribe would have taken what you have, and sent you away (or thrown you off a bridge).

Kind of makes working seem like a pretty good alternative, no?

FIRE Across The Generations

There’s my take on the generational acceptance of FIRE.  I think that FIRE is a big thing because it truly is a new concept for many.

What do you think of my thoughts? Do you agree on how prior generations would have looked upon FIRE?  What generation are you and what do you think of FIRE?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Ideas For Goals To Make 2018 A Great Year

I wrote the other day about some of my personal goals.  I’m excited to go back and check on that post often throughout the year.  I really think these are some things I can hit this year.  If I do, it’ll be a great year.  If you haven’t come up with your goals yet, don’t worry.  Here are some ideas for goals to make this your best year ever!

Goals To Consider

  • Read more.  If you don’t read at all, this can be an easy goal.  Start with one book.  If you read regularly, try to get more reading in.  Maybe even look at trying to read up on a different subject than normal.
  • Learn something new.  You can always learn something new.  Don’t believe anyone that tells you otherwise.  This doesn’t mean you have to take a class.  You can learn something simple as how to hang a picture frame.  Why not?
  • Exercise.  Nobody expects you to go from couch potato to marathon runner.  Everyone could use a little more exercise.  The trick is to start small.  If you do happen to want to run a marathon, that’s great!  But start off trying to run a mile before you set your goals higher.
  • Save. Find one area where you can save a few bucks.  It’ll feel good, and it’ll make you want to do it again.
  • Unplug.  Take some time to turn off your phone, tablets, and TV.  The world is a great place without them.  Enjoy it!
  • Don’t Procrastinate.  Stop saying that you’ll get to your goals tomorrow.  Today is here right now!  Take advantage of it.
  • Don’t Give Up.  If you don’t hit your goals, so what!  Don’t wait until next year.  Keep going.  Start over.  Every day is a new adventure.

These are some pretty good things to start off with, don’t you think?

What are some of your goals?  What about some other ideas that could help others who may not have gotten started yet on their goals for 2018?

Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

20 Personal Goals For 2018

I’m not a big believer in New Years resolutions.  I think it’s more apporpirate to set goals.  These can be touched on throughout the year.  I also think they should come from experiences or goals from before 2018.  Continuity will help.  These are 20 goals for 2018 that I have.

Family

  • Be protective of my den.  Our family of four should pull together and always have each others back.  I’d like to be a better example of this.  Our children will definitely learn this value, and now’s the time to get a little better at it.
  • Be more of the husband and dad I want my wife and kids to remember.  I often look at things I wish I could change.  Why just wish?  There are things I do or say today that I don’t want to be remembered for.  Why not change to do the things I want?
  • Look out for my/our parents.  Both my parents and my wife’s parents are very strong and independent.  Even
    image from morguefile courtesy of xololounge

    so, I’d like to look out for them more.  They spent decades looking out for us (and still do).  I’d like to reciprocate more.

  • Be there when there.  This one is simple.  Stay off cell phones, tablets, and TV time when our family is together.  I definitely want to ‘put the phone down’ more often.

Money

  • Be stable.  We’ve made some changes to add a little flexibility to our cash flow.  This is good and is a safety net for us.  I’d like to make sure we set ourselves up so that money doesn’t surprise us.  At least not in a negative way!
  • Spend with purpose.  We spend money on vacations. To some this might seem wasteful, but we do so with purpose.  These provide memories for us and our children.  This is worth it.  I’d like to make sure that our spending in other areas is done with similar purpose.
  • Be wiser.  I haven’t always made the best money decisions.  Sometimes I take too many risks.  Sometimes, not enough.  It’d be nice to fall more in the middle.
  • Setup a trust / will.  This one speaks for itself!

Health

  • Exercise.  I have done a pretty good job of keeping up on exercising.  I’d like to continue this and make sure it’s steady.
  • Moderate.  As I continue to get older, I see more and more how what you put into your body matters.  When you’re young, it doesn’t hit you as hard.  So continuing to have awareness and make responsible decisions continues to grow in importance.

Blogging

  • Figure out Pinterest.  I always thought this was something for females.  But I’m seeing that it’s also a great tool for bloggers.  It seems many of the most successful bloggers use Pinterest.  It’s time to figure it out for myself.
  • Comment.  I read a lot of blogs but I haven’t really taken the time to comment as much as I should.  It’s time to change that.
  • Facebook.  I do share a lot of great posts that I read on Twitter.  I’d like to continue to expand my social media engagement by sharing posts, as well as interacting on the Facebook community.
  • Really be part of the personal finance blogging community.  I’ve been blogging for a long time, but I have never really immersed myself in the blogging community.  I participate, but as I often do in life, I am more on the sidelines than in the middle.  I can’t promise I’ll jump right to the middle, but I’d like to move a little closer.
  • Redesign.  I haven’t given Money Beagle a fresh look in a couple of years.  It’s due!

Job

  • Look for internal opportunities.  I have a pretty great job.  I’m good at what I do.  I am well thought of.   Still, I don’t want to get complacent. I have some ideas on how to expand my skills, while not risking the good reputation I’ve built.  I’d like to act on this in 2018.
  • Review other options.  Because things have been going so well, I haven’t really looked at other opportunities.  While I’m in no hurry to leave, maybe there is an even better opportunity out there.  I need to spend time looking to make sure I’m not leaving myself behind.

Life

  • Appreciate beauty.  I want to spend more time just looking around and enjoying the beauty of life.  There’s a lot there.
  • Live for today and tomorrow.  Finding the mix of living for today but also making sure tomorrow is taken care of can be tough.  There are no guarantees, so while I don’t want to do anything foolish and spend every dime today, I also don’t want to get to the end of my life and regret not doing more.
  • Take risks.  I’m pretty hesitant to try new things.  Why? There’s so much out there to do and learn.  Experiences are great, why not have more of them?  I’d love to get to the end of the year and have stepped outside my comfort zone more often.

Readers, what are some of your goals for 2018?  I hope you have a great year ahead!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.