Money woes cause stress, which in turn touches on all aspects of your life.  It can invade your life and wreck it from your relationships to your health.  Ignoring money woes puts your quality of life in jeopardy and directly affects your ability to perform. 

And by perform, I mean from the bedroom to the boardroom.

A recent study by Northwestern Mutual found that money is the most common source of stress among U.S. adults.

In this article I will address 3 key areas where money woes can ruin your performance.

In The Bedroom

In the previously cited study, 4 in 10 respondents said money issues affected their relationships with their partners.  In addition, Lauren Dummit, co-founder and clinical director of Triune Therapy Group in Los Angeles said financial woes can cause people to “become passive aggressive and withhold sex from their partners as an attempt to punish or to act out of their rage.” 

Ouch.  This, as you can imagine, is like a cancer to a relationship and will bring a marriage to the breaking point.

You can try things like getting more sleep, getting a healthy hobby, focusing on improving your health and talking it out with your partner, but until you address the underlying issue, your money problems, these are band-aid solutions that will only delay the inevitable.

In The Body

Stress is the leading cause of health problems.  Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “Healthy mind, healthy body?”

Well, when you have constant worries about money, you have stress.  And that stress can lead to digestive issues, hypertension and lack of energy.

According to an article on, stress can cause increased risk of hypertension, heart attack, insomnia, low sex drive (that one rears its head again!), high blood sugar and a weakened immune system, just to name a few!

So, again, if money problems are the #1 source of stress among U.S. adults, and stress can hurt your body that deeply, it behooves you to get your financial house in order.

In The Boardroom

It should not be surprising that a recent study by The Society for Human Resource Management revealed that a growing number of employees are experiencing financial hardship that impacts their job performance.

The study of HR Professionals cited the following as the top employee financial challenges:

  • Medical expenses (42% of respondents)
  • Overall lack of funds to cover personal expenses (41% of respondents)
  • Saving for retirement (31% of respondents)
  • Credit card debt (25% of respondents)

According to HR professionals, areas most affected when employees face financial challenges are:

  • Overall employee stress (50%)
  • Ability of employees to focus on work (47%)
  • Overall employee productivity (29%)
  • Employee absenteeism/presenteeism (26%)
  • Employee engagement (15%)

With the previous examples alone that we’ve cited, it is hardly in doubt that financial problems can act like an anchor dragging down your personal career ambitions and overall company productivity.

What To Do?

What can you do, though, to counter these problems and address your financial issues?

First of all, know yourself.  Understand what your money personality is and how it affects how you relate to money.  Then you can make informed adjustments in your handling of money that will benefit you in the long run.  Finding out where you fall in my 4 money personalities (Surfer, Soldier, 1st Responder, Hunter/Gatherer) can help you in that respect.

Second, know your money.  Don’t hide your head in the sand expecting these serious problems to just go away.  Sit down with pen and pad and list out all your assets and liabilities so you can get a clear picture of your net worth.  Also, list out your income and your monthly living expenses so you can understand if you have enough coming in to meet your monthly needs.

Third, get on a written budget.  When you spend by making it up as you go along, the end result is that you have too much month at the end of your money.  Rather than spending your time being stressed out wondering where your money went, spend a little time planning where your money goes down to the last dollar.  Then you can spend stress-free because you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have money in the bank to cover it.

Fourth, focus on piling up cash for emergencies.  Get off the credit cards, put an emergency fund of at least $1,000 to start, then build that to 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses.  You can do that by requesting a raise, working overtime, selling stuff you don’t need,  getting a second job or starting a side hustle of your own.

Fifth, use credit wisely and in a targeted manner.  Don’t use it because you saw some shoes or golf clubs on sale.  Credit should be used for major expenses like buying a car, a home or paying for a major medical expense that you can’t otherwise cash flow. And put a written plan in place to pay down outstanding consumer credit quickly.  When you use credit that way, you control it instead of credit controlling you!

So, in conclusion, stress hurts you in the bedroom, the body and the boardroom.  You can change that by taking ownership of the problem and making changes in yourself and the way you handle money today.  Then you can experience greater success in your health, relationships and career. 

Always remember:  Own it, Be it, Achieve it.  Much success to you!

#Wealth #Financial #Literacy #Budget #Save #Invest #Career #Credit


I thought this article was going to be about one thing when I started typing.  But as I typed, something else came out.  Here it is.

I remember when I first heard the story of my great-grandfather, Cecil Huguenin.  Cecil was born a slave to a black slave mother and white slave master father.  He escaped from his slave master and went on to become a successful farmer in the South at a time when a black man could be lynched for merely looking a white man in the eye.  Talk about beating the odds.

That story stayed with me and I like to think that my great-grandfather’s spirit lives on within me.  I have always strived to be self-sufficient financially, calling my own shots like he did, and many of the decisions I’ve made, both good and bad, have been shaped by that legacy.

We all are shaped, to one extent or another, by our environment, family, experiences and education.  This impacts how we make decisions and how we think and that includes when it comes to money. 

Whether you realize it or not, you have a money personality and it drives you in your decisions when it comes to earning, spending, saving, investing and giving your money.

After reading a lot of books on money and personal finance, observing hundreds of people around me, taking courses, gaining a lot of experience from my own life and working with many others and helping them with their money both as a FINRA registered rep and as a financial coach, I have realized that there are four basic money personalities.  I will share those four general types with you here. 

Now understand, there are no hard and fast rules here.  There are variations within each personality.  My intention is that as you read about them, you come to understand why you may do some of the things you do with money and how you can use that information to make better financial decisions going forward.


The Surfer is a free-spirited soul and they have no qualms about spending money, either on themselves or on others.  They live in the moment and relish the experiences and things that money can buy.  They range from minimum-wage employees to C-suite executives and beyond.  Some spend within their means and others outside of it.  One of the identifying characteristics of The Surfer is that they get a rush when they spend money.  It makes them feel good. 

Sometimes though, that spending takes the form of retail therapy where the spending is done in an effort to lift their spirits.  Face it, everyone likes buying nice stuff, we all do it.  But The Surfer has a higher risk of spending to feel good than the rest of us and as you can imagine, that poses some risks.  So if you recognize you have the traits of a spender you need to constantly perform self-checks to make sure that you are not over-spending to the point that you are harming yourself or your loved ones in the immediate present and the long-term future.  Let’s recap The Surfer:

  • Free-spirited spender
  • Lives in the moment
  • Prizes experiences and emotional highs that come from spending

Strengths:  Knows how to enjoy life, can be fun to be around, can be generous to those around them

Weaknesses:  Can be more susceptible to impulse spending, can fall victim to “retail therapy,” can confuse having money and “stuff” with having happiness

Tips:  Use a budget, put limits on spending and track where your money goes.  Avoid using credit cards and spend cash or use a debit card instead.  Use the 24-hour rule by waiting 24 hours before making an impulse purchase.  If after 24 hours you still feel the need to buy it, go ahead.  You may often find that the urge has passed and that you don’t need it as much as you thought you did.  Continue to be generous, but, beware that people do not take advantage of you for what they can get out of you materially.  If your spouse is a Soldier, make an effort to understand how you can address their concerns and make mutual compromises that make both parties happy.


This personality is in many ways the opposite of The Surfer’s.  Rather than spending impulsively and freely, they tend to be more regimented.  They prefer rules and budgets that govern spending and don’t feel comfortable when they are pressured to live outside those limits.  These are the savers and value the security that comes from a large emergency fund or a pile of cash stashed away in some form or other.  They are more defensive in their handling of money, preferring safer investments like annuities and CD’s even though they come with lower returns, because they treasure security above risk.

Extending the need for security, these folks are more likely to buy insurance policies like life, long-term care and disability.  Soldiers prefer to keep the castle strong.  They have to be careful, though, that they don’t become so tight with spending that it hurts their ability to enjoy life or share what they have with others, within reason of course.  To recap The Soldier:

  • Cautious mindset when it comes to money
  • Thinks and plans defensively
  • Prizes security over and above possible gains from riskier investments

Strengths:  Loves to live within their means, doesn’t overspend, takes time with purchases, understands the value of the protection that comes from different types of insurance

Weaknesses:  Too much caution can cost in terms of missed investment opportunities, can resist spending to the point that it harms relationships, can over-stress over “what-if” scenarios that have little chance of happening

Tips:  While budgeting is important, don’t be a budget Nazi.  In other words, be a little more liberal in areas of personal and entertainment spending and cut your spouse some slack.  Be careful not to over-insure in a quest to have “complete” protection.  Balance is key.  Be open to higher-risk investments like aggressive mutual funds that have a solid track record of beating the 20-year average stock market return.  Don’t be a “cheap-skate.”  If your spouse is a Surfer, try to see where you can compromise to make things less stressful for the two of you.


This particular personality is generally embodied in a big heart.  They are characteristically empathetic and self-sacrificing.  All too often their mantra is “Can I get you some money?”  These are kind-hearted people though.  They gain joy from helping others whenever and wherever they can.  They can be more easily guilted into lending or giving money, even when there is no cause for such guilt. 

First Responders can also become enablers for financially irresponsible people.  If there is a cause, disaster or other emergency they are the first to reach into their pockets and give of their means of living, even if it hurts them personally.  Caution is needed here because you cannot help others if you cripple yourself so badly that you cannot help yourself first.   Let’s review the The First Responder:

  • Generous
  • Self-sacrificing
  • Prizes “healing” others by giving out of their means in times of need

Strengths:  Can always count on them to be there, have the ability to empathize with others, are not selfish

Weaknesses:  Can be taken advantage of financially, more susceptible to being guilted into giving or lending money, can disregard their own financial well-being in an effort to help others

Tips:  Don’t stop giving of yourself to others.  But be aware that in giving, you can hurt more than you help.  Enabling someone to be financially irresponsible is not loving them, it is harming them.  When others come to you asking for money, don’t give them a fish, teach them to fish, so to speak.  Offer to get them financial coaching or buy them a course or book on money management first. 

And if you choose to give, do it only when you fully understand the situation and know that there is a plan on that person’s part to address and fix the behaviors and decisions that brought them to this point in their lives.  Finally, look after yourself first and foremost.  Get proper food, rest and exercise.  You are no good to others if you are no good to yourself.


Our final personality is adventurous at heart.  They are not afraid to take risks and you will often find them starting businesses, investing in real estate or another higher-yield financial instrument or working solo for themselves.  They enjoy the rush that comes from blazing a new path and reaping the rewards from taking nothing and turning it into something.  They are confident, optimistic and generally happy people.  But, they have to be careful that they do not take uninformed risks that over-extend them financially and put themselves in harms way.  To review The Hunter/Gatherer:

  • Not afraid to take risks when it comes to opportunity
  • Willing to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains
  • Prizes a high return on investment in everything that touches their lives

Strengths:  Bold, adventurous, not afraid to strike out on their own, has a strong ability to sense a good investment or business opportunity, active at taking action to grow their finances

Weaknesses:  Can become hyper-focused on goals to the detriment of others, can take unnecessary risks, can overlook the feelings of loved ones in a quest to obtain goals

Tips:  Don’t give in to fear and continue to pursue your dreams.  Be thoughtful and take informed risks, meaning don’t get involved in ventures that you have no base of knowledge or experience in.  Educate yourself first, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a given course, seek the counsel of others who have been there before you and then take action. 

Don’t just “jump in” without giving some thought to the risks involved.  And don’t get so focused on pursuing your goals and dreams that you forget about the more important things, like self-care and enjoying time with loved ones.

So, there you have it.  Did you see yourself in any one of those personality types?  Or maybe you saw a little bit of two, or three or even all of them in you!  Maybe you even understand someone else in your life a little better now.  Whatever you saw, take some time to reflect on what you learned today and incorporate that knowledge along with the tips I shared for each personality type.

And, remember, the point is not that one personality is better than another.  Rather, it is to use the knowledge of yourself in such a way that you play to your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

By the way, can you guess which money personality I am?  I’ll just tell you.  I’m The Hunter/Gatherer.  Like I said, sometimes it’s in the genes!

And, please, take a moment and comment below and share with me what your particular money personality is.

I hope you found that helpful and use it to make positive change in your financial decisions going forward.  If you also know of someone who can benefit from this knowledge, share this article with them.

If you want more help on how to handle your money more wisely, please go to  There you can schedule a free discovery coaching session with me to get a better handle on just what things you can do to take your money to the max level. 

In the meantime, stay safe out there.  Own It, Be It, Achieve It.  All the best!


Everyone wants to be debt free.

Who in their right mind wants to send thousands of dollars to banks due to debts racked up on high-interest credit cards?  Or, God forbid, Payday loans?

And in normal circumstances, I would tell you to stick to the following debt snowball script:

  1. Save a thousand dollar beginner emergency fund.
  2. List ALL your debts, smallest to largest.
  3. Pay the minimum payment on each EXCEPT the smallest one.  Take any EXTRA cash (including any cash you have over your $1,000) you can scrape together and pound on that debt until it’s gone.
  4. Once that smallest one is gone, take all the money you were paying toward it and roll it over to the next smallest one and repeat the process.
  5. Keep repeating until you get to the last (and largest) one.
  6. Once you are debt free, go back and build your $1,000 emergency fund up to 3-6 months of expenses.

Yes, that is what I normally would advise.

But that was then and this is now and these are NOT normal times.  So, I now advise you make some adjustments to your debt repayment plan.

First, $1,000 is no longer enough of a beginner emergency fund in the age of Covid.  So, STOP your debt snowball if you are currently in it, meaning no more extra payments above and beyond any minimum payments, and pour that cash into your emergency fund until you reach 3-months worth of expenses, minimum.  And certainly, do not start your debt snowball until this is done.

Just to be clear, I define living expenses as all your fixed expenses: Mortgage/Rent, Utilities, Debt Obligations, Food, Transportation.  In other words, if it has a due date on it each month, it’s a fixed expense.

This is now the new minimum standard for your BEGINNER EMERGENCY FUND.  Do not start your debt snowball until you have this minimum amount.  And if things look shaky, go for 6 months’ worth of expenses.

Once you have 3-6 months’ worth of LIVING EXPENSES (Notice I do NOT mean income) AND you have a stable income for the foreseeable future, you can restart your debt snowball.

I know it aches to have cash and the ability to knock a debt out.  I feel you.  I’m looking at one particular debt I have right now that I could click and be done with.  But I have to control my urges.  There is simply no replacement for cash in this critical time.  Cash is king.  Let me explain my reasoning.

Say you take your savings down to $1,000 and you get to work paying off that nagging credit card.  If you don’t lose your job in the course of this and you make it to the end of the debt, good for you.  But banks have a pesky habit of “limiting exposure.”  That’s a fancy term for seeing you as too risky to give credit to. They did this on a large scale in the last downturn in 2008, and they will do it again, mark my words.  So as soon as you pay off that debt they shut down your line of credit. 

You are now 1) Out of all the cash you just sent them and 2) Without the line of credit that you might desperately need if you lose your job or something else comes up.  That’s a double punch to the gut.  If you had held onto that cash, when they shut down your credit, you would still have the cash.  They can’t take that away from you.

So, if you follow the new rules, once you pay off your debts, your immediate next step is to save ONE YEAR of living expenses.  This is now the new standard for your fully-funded emergency fund.

We can get through to the other side of this intact.  It just means making some adjustments, tightening our belts and looking for ways to increase our income, particularly developing multiple streams of income.  That way, in case Covid takes out one stream, you still have the others coming in.

For more reasons for starting a side hustle now, check out my article here.

If you want tips on how to start and run a business, or handle your money more wisely, follow my blog at  You can also schedule a free discovery coaching session with me there. 

In the meantime, stay safe and love the ones closest to you without reservation or regret. I wish you all the best!   And remember, Own It, Be It, Achieve It.


It’s pretty obvious that today’s job market is shaky at best and downright scary at worst.  In fact, the situation reminds me of the book “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. 

In it, Johnson tells the story of 4 characters: two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two little people (Hem and Haw).  It is a parable on how we react to change.  You see, they went out every day in a maze to find cheese that always seemed to be there and would never run out. 

But one day Sniff and Scurry noticed the cheese was disappearing.  The handwriting was on the wall: the cheese would soon run out!  They had a choice to make.  They could trust that miraculously the cheese would be replenished by a benevolent and unseen person, or take matters into their own hands and find another source of cheese.

Long story short, Sniff and Scurry got uncomfortable and ventured out into the maze to find a new source of cheese.  Hem and Haw chose to stay put in their comfort zone.  I don’t have to tell you that Sniff and Scurry continued to eat, while Hem and Haw went hungry.

Well folks, the cheese has moved on all of us, whether we realize it or not.  The job terrain has shifted beneath our feet and it won’t be going back to normal.  Up to 40% of lost jobs will not be coming back.  And the jobs that remain will not be as secure, being more prone to furlough when another pandemic swings our way again.  And the medical experts all agree that another pandemic is bound to be in our future.  More of us will be working from home, and social distancing looks like it’s here to stay, more or less.  That begs the question: What are you going to do to safeguard your income?

Well, it is obvious to me and a lot of other folks that having more than one stream of income is a safer bet because it insulates you if the other one dries up.  And if you are still working, how secure is your job and do you have a plan for maintaining your income if your job were to go away tomorrow?  If you’re looking for work, how secure is the field you are trying to get into?  Wouldn’t you like to have more control over your financial future?

The good news is you have options!  You can lay the groundwork for a more stable income by starting a home-based business.  I’m talking about a side-hustle that you can start up in your spare time and build until it replaces your current income.  Or ramp up if your day job goes bye-bye.  You can choose from distance learning, a cleaning service or maybe even a mobile dog washing business.  Heck, you name it!

Sadly, though, people give all kinds of excuses for not starting a business of their own ranging from fear and uncertainty over loss of income and benefits, to being comfortable in their current situation.  If you are still wondering whether or not starting a side gig is a good idea for you, let me share with you 5 reasons why it just might be the right thing for you to do now.


As an employee, your boss controls how much money you make and when you will make it.  When you call your own shots, you decide your salary and you can give yourself a raise by working harder, raising rates or cutting expenses.  In short, you decide how much you get paid, not some dweeb with a pocket protector and calculator, or ungrateful boss, who has no clue what you do or how much value you bring to the table!

And if you had a side hustle in addition to your full-time gig, when the boss tells you your services are no longer needed, well, you have another stream of income to fall back on.  Sounds like a pretty good reason to me.


How many times have you had to go to your boss, hat in hand, to grovel for some time off?  I’m guessing more times than you’d like to remember.  The good thing when you run the show is you decide when to come into work, when to leave and when to take time off.  You can also rearrange your schedule at will to have greater quality of life when, say, your kid’s recital comes up or you have a doctor’s appointment.


When you work for someone else, you pay taxes at a set rate and there is little you can do to change it.  But when you own a business, even a part-time, home-based one, you open the door to all sorts of legal write-offs.  Like for travel, office/electronic equipment, food and cell phone bills.  You can even write off a portion of your mortgage and utilities for any dedicated space you use as your home office! 

Those savings can really start to add up and they are the things rich people use to avoid paying as little in tax as possible, thus holding onto more of their wealth than the everyday working stiff.


How many times has the alarm clock gone off and you dreaded prying yourself out of the bed to go to a place you don’t want to go, to do work you don’t like and to work with people who get on your last nerve?  I know it has happened to me more times than I can count.

When you own your own business, you can decide to work from home, doing work you love while only working with people who you actually like.  How’s that for job satisfaction?


In today’s climate your employer may require you to place yourself at risk by coming into contact with people in high-risk situations that can expose you to Covid-19 or any other infectious disease.  And you have very little say in the matter.

When you work for yourself, you get to pick work that is done entirely online or in such a way that your exposure to the public is kept at a minimum.  That didn’t matter too much in the past, but now it matters a great deal!

Those are just 5 reasons to start your own side hustle, and I could give you many more.  The point is, isn’t it time you took a greater look at starting your own business so that you own your job rather than your job owning you?

Thanks for reading!  If you want tips on how to start and run a business, or handle your money more wisely, follow my blog at  You can also schedule a free discovery coaching session with me there.  In the meantime, stay safe out there and enjoy life and your loved ones more than ever, because both can be taken away in an instant.  All the best!

Mayo, Childhood “Trauma” And Money

We are all a product of our experiences and environment.

For instance, I don’t like mayonnaise because once when I was a little kid on a boat trip to Bear Mountain (remember the Dayliner?) I was eating a baloney and mayo sandwich when a kid ran out in front of me, put his head over the rail, and threw up.

What came out of his mouth looked white.

I looked at him, looked at my sandwich, and threw it away.

I have not eaten mayonnaise since that day nor can you ever convince me to in life, ever!

Maybe you had a similar experience that seared itself into your consciousness and affects you to this day, for good or bad.

For instance, if you repeatedly had a bad experience with a particular group, race or gender, you might be inclined to form a judgment (prejudice) against them, even though it’s most likely wrong.

Meanwhile, we conveniently overlook what we may have done to bring the problem on ourselves.

We are humans and we tend to live in our feelings, hold grudges and remember the bad times more than the good, so prejudices can come easily and we have to fight them.

Also, it’s easy to blame someone else for a bad experience rather than look at ourselves and how bad decisions on our part may have led to the problem.

It’s no different with money. If we had great experiences with money in the past, we might be inclined to have very positive views about money.

But if we’ve overall had bad experiences with money, we might form very negative views about money (prejudices) that affect how we interact with, and use, money.

Either way, we can form predetermined responses when it comes to making, having and spending money.

These can have positive or negative affects on our finances.

For instance, if you heard your parents always say “The game is rigged and the little man can’t get ahead,” you might resolve yourself to being broke, taking on a victim mentality, because you believe the game is rigged against you, so whats the point in even trying?

Or say you made a series of uninformed and unfortunate mistakes when handling money (like I did big time!) then when you think of money that might also bring on negative feelings and unhealthy money habits.

But say your parents had healthy discussions around money in the home while you were growing up, or, you have overall made good decisions with your own finances, you probably in general have very positive feelings and habits when it comes to handling your money.

Understanding why we do what we do with our money is key to developing the habits and views regarding it that lead to a financially healthy and stable cash flow and net worth.

No one ends up in thousands of dollars of credit card debt with barely any cash on hand because they tripped and fell into it.

Likewise, no one ends up with thousands of dollars in an emergency fund and zero debt because they slipped, tripped and fell into it!

Whatever your experience, owning your part in it is the only way to move forward and grow toward a healthier financial situation.

Look, kids blame others for their problems rather than accept responsibility.

But adults suck it up and accept responsibility where responsibility lies and that is with the person in the mirror.

Financially unfit people share the following in common:

They play the blame game, spend blindly without a budget, have no regular system of saving and investing and they use credit cards to make up for failures in the first three areas.

Financially fit people, on the other hand, share the following in common:

They take personal responsibility for their financial situation, use a monthly budget to manage their money, regularly save and invest and they have very little to no credit card debt.

You see, it’s all about habits, and habits are shaped by experiences and the views formed by them.

What habits have you developed when it comes to money?

Do you have a life-shaping “financial mayo story” in your past that shapes how you view money today?

Mine was a bankruptcy in my mid 20’s.

We all have our own unique experience, but what has your experience with money been like overall?

Comment below or email us at and tell me in 3 WORDS OR LESS how you would describe your relationship with money.

In my next post in this series I will let you know the results. Thanks and have a great day!


Starting a business can be scary.  When you choose the road of self-reliance, you give up a lot of what people consider “security” in exchange for taking on all the responsibility of providing for yourself.

But is being self-employed really more risky than working for someone else?  Is the employee more secure than the entrepreneur?  The answers may surprise you.  So, in this article, I’m going to debunk 5 myths about starting a business, using facts and my own experience, and show you how you can overcome them and start reaping the rich rewards that come from being your own boss.


It is true that when you work for someone, you can generally count on getting ‘x’ at the end of a week or two for working your assigned hours.  And people often assume that having a job means that job will be there tomorrow and the day after, and on and on, until they decide to leave.

But that’s not necessarily the case.  First of all, your employer can fire you and replace you with his nephew (or niece).  Second, your company could go out of business.  In today’s climate, many businesses have already folded and experts say 40% of those jobs will not be coming back.  Try talking about job security to the 40 million Americans (and counting) who have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began.

TRUTH: Yes, your business could fail.  But remember, so could your employer’s.  When you work for yourself you can take measures to increase your chances of success.  You can stay on top of your marketing to expose yourself to a broad base of clientele so you are not impacted by the loss of one, or even a few.  You can provide outstanding service so your customers become loyal clients who won’t want to leave you.  When the economy shifts, you can pivot and adjust with the winds to follow economic demand.  Also, no one can fire you from your business.  You are the boss! 


This is the reason so many of our parents from my generation said “get a real job.”  They firmly believed that you can make more and steadier income working for someone else.  But is that true?

When I first took the dive into being self-employed my constant worry was making at least as much as I made when I had a 9 to 5.  Well, to my utter surprise, I was able to increase my hourly rate 5 x’s and double my annual income in my first year.  That meant I made more, while working less! 

Consultants and coaches routinely charge double, triple, or more of what they earned in their former jobs.  And companies accept that as the cost of doing business because they value their expertise and  recognize that you have to pay your own benefits and other expenses. 

TRUTH:  Too many people sabotage their income by charging too little, when the truth is people often judge your value by what you charge.  That means if you work for peanuts, they won’t perceive too much value in your services.  But if you charge a premium, mentally they often assume you must be worth it.  Here’s a simple trick to deciding how much to charge.  Figure out how much you want to earn annually.  Then drop three zeroes.  You now have your hourly rate.  For example, say you want to earn $100,000 per year.  You would drop three zeroes from that and end up with an hourly rate of $100!


This is a common belief and nothing could be further from the truth.  Vera Wang didn’t start designing clothes until she was 39.  Ray Kroc was 51 when he started the company that would become the mega-success named McDonalds.  And  Colonel Sanders started KFC at the ripe old age of 65!

TRUTH:  You’re never too old to start over.  All it takes is the vision, a belief in yourself and the work ethic needed to make it happen.  The cases I mentioned above, and so many others you can Google for yourself, prove that point.  So, wherever you are in life, just get started.  It truly is never too late!


So many people actually believe you need to raise a ton of money and go into debt to start a profitable business.  That wasn’t true back in the day, and it’s even less true now.  With the internet and other technology, the playing field has been leveled.  Now you can reach not only your neighbor, but customers in Bangladesh who want and need your product or service.

TRUTH:  Technology makes your reach global.  Also, you don’t need to sign a lease for an expensive space for your business.  Endless numbers of successful businesses have started from kitchen tables or garages.  Dave Ramsey, noted financial guru, is fond of stating that he started his business from a card table in his living room.  That business is now generating over $200 million dollars per year.  And I started my business using a desk in my bedroom, a laptop computer, printer and business cards.  Total investment: Less than $100 since I already had the desk and computer!  And most of us already have that going for us.


Listen.  There is no more mythical thing than “the right time.”  There will always be a problem or obstacle in your life.  You’ll be stressed out.  Your money will be funny.  Your kids will be driving you crazy.  Your boss will make unreasonable demands on your time.  Your health may be suffering.  Blah-blah-blah…  Life sucks.  The list can go on and on.  We live in an imperfect world full of imperfect people.  So, there will never be a perfect time.

TRUTH:  The perfect time will never come.  If you wait for it, you’ll be lying on your death bed regretting all the things you never tried or did.  So, just start.  Kids stressing you out?  Start.  Job devouring your time?  Start.  It’s raining?  Start.  It’s cloudy?  Start.  Putin’s acting up?  Just start.  I was broke and unemployed when I started.  Wherever you are with whatever you have… just start from there.  And when you start, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to keep going.

I hope you benefited from breaking down those 5 common myths that keep people from starting a business.  Really, all of these can come under one heading:  Fear.  And fear is, at the end of the day, a lie.  It is False Evidence Appearing Real.  So, kick it to the curb and just do it.  The rewards are well worth it, as I and so many other entrepreneurs can attest.

If you want more info on starting a side hustle, growing a business or managing your income, check out my blog at  There you can also schedule a free discovery coaching session with me.  I wish you all the best and a healthy, happy life!


Wealth.  Financial, that is.  Everyone says they want it, yet very few seem to have it.  That is proven by the fact that 78% of our fellow Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.  And that includes the kid flipping burgers at the local eatery all the way through to the local cop, nurse, secretary AND trader pulling down 7 figures on Wall Street.  Because it’s not about how much money you make on the journey to building wealth, it’s about how much you keep in addition to the habits you cultivate along the way. 

Most people like to daydream about having wealth.  They play the lottery and talk about what they would do IF they hit it big.  They fantasize about what they would do IF they could start this business or invent that product.  The problem is “IF” is just a wish without a plan and action attached to it.  It’s the same as with physical fitness.  If you want to have a killer body, you need to begin with a good fitness routine.  So too, if you want to have a killer bank account, you have to have a good financial routine.  The problem is, very few are willing to put in the long-term effort it takes to walk the path of wealth.  Folks, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  And that marathon has 5 clearly defined stages that you need to be aware of and prepared for if you intend to finish the race to wealth.  This article will identify those stages, explain what they look like in practical terms and help you see what you can expect along the way.


This is where most people find themselves and this is what it looks like: 

  • You are living paycheck-to-paycheck
  • You are borrowing from Peter to pay Paul
  • You have no savings
  • The smallest unexpected expense becomes a major financial obstacle to you
  • You are constantly late and stressed out over monthly bills
  • There is always too much month left at the end of your money and you can’t figure out where your money is going

If any of this sounds like you, then you are in this first stage.  You have no control over your finances and it’s no fun.  I’ve been there and it can be scary as heck.  But as painful and scary as it is, it’s just not scary enough or painful enough to make some people get off their butts and get out of this mess.  It has become more comfortable for them to stay here and do nothing than to get uncomfortable and take action to change their situation.  The great motivational speaker Les Brown once said, “People will never change until they get sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  And you too will wallow in this miserable state unless and until you get sick and tired of being sick and tired.


If you got sick and tired of being sick and tired, you might be here.  In this stage you have a starter emergency fund of $1,000.  You are not charging “emergencies” to credit cards and you are living within your means by sticking to a written budget every month while tracking your spending.  Here is where you have actually begun to assert control over your finances and are growing in confidence that you can actually get to that destination you have defined as wealth in your mind.  In review, this is what your life looks like if you are at this stage:

  • You have $1,000 stashed away for emergencies
  • You are living by a written budget and every dollar you make has an assignment every month
  • You have stopped borrowing money to live on
  • You are current and on time with all your bills

If you are here, congratulations!  You have finally taken ownership of your finances and taken control over this most important aspect of your life.  But no time to rest, because there is still much work to do in order to advance to the next stage of wealth building.


At this stage of the journey you are really rolling up your sleeves and putting in the work needed to dig yourself out of debt and grow your income.  You are keeping your spending under control.  You are also using the debt snowball method to repay everything you owe. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the term ‘debt snowball’ let me explain.  The debt snowball is when you line up all your debts smallest to largest and pay the minimums on each except the smallest.  Any extra money you have you throw at that smallest one until it is gone from your life.  After that debt is gone, you now take all the money you were paying on that smallest one and throw it at the next one in line until that one is paid off.  You keep doing this, rolling your payments downhill from one debt to the next, growing them larger and larger until the last debt is finally paid off.

In this stage you are also looking for ways to grow your monthly income.  That may mean selling stuff, taking on second and third jobs or starting a side business that generates extra income to use in your war on debt.  See, your income is your greatest wealth building tool and the bigger it is, the faster you will get out of debt and build wealth.  To review, here’s a snapshot of STAGE 3:

  • You are working your debt snowball with intensity, paying them off one after the other
  • You are laser-focused on growing your income
  • You are keeping tight control over your spending


Now, when I say financial security, I am not speaking in absolute terms.  Rather, I am speaking in a relative sense.  I’ll illustrate this with a home security system.  No one can claim that a home security system will guarantee their families’ safety and keep all burglars away.  But it will serve as a deterrent to any would-be intruders and as a defense against any that actually do try to break in by sounding the alarm, alerting you to the danger and dispatching the authorities to the scene. 

Likewise, in this stage you have relative financial security because you have paid off all your consumer debts so the only payment you have is your mortgage.  Now all that money that was going to payments can now go to building up your emergency fund until it amounts to 6 months to one year of expenses.  So now, if you or your spouse loses a job, if a medical expense hits or the car explodes, it’s no longer a major disaster.  No, at this point it only becomes a minor inconvenience.  Why?  Because the security that the emergency fund gives you means that life will go on as it has without putting your financial life on hold or in jeopardy.  And by the way, a this stage you have also protected your family by getting and keeping all the forms of insurance you need.  Stage 4 is a great place to be so keep in mind what it looks like:

  • You are debt-free excluding your mortgage
  • You have funded or are funding your emergency savings stash to 6-12 months of expenses
  • You have put in place all the forms of insurance you need to protect your family

Stage 4 is where your financial machine is really humming and you are lining yourself up to launch yourself into the final stage of wealth building.  Hold on, because here it comes!


I want to clarify again that when I refer to financial independence, I only mean this in relative terms, not in the absolute.  No one is completely immune to the unforeseen occurrences of life.  Wars, runaway inflation and environmental disasters can devastate entire national economic systems.  At that point, everyone is in the same boat.

So, here is how I define financial independence:  The ability to generate all the money you need to cover your living expenses and then some, without working, solely from any business, savings and/or investments you might own.  You are independent in the sense that you don’t rely on any outside sources of income to live.

Yes, here is where you don’t have to take crap from a boss.  When your boss starts acting up you can tell him where to put his job and walk out.  When you want to take the family on an extended vacation, you don’t have to beg for time off from work.  And when you see someone in need, you can reach into your accrued wealth and give like no one else and effect meaningful change in that needy person’s life.  How would you like to have a financial situation that looks like this:

  • Your home is paid off
  • You have absolutely no payments due to anyone
  • Your business and/or investments generate enough income to live a life of comfort
  • You can give generously to causes, institutions or individuals who are truly in need
  • You have time to pursue your heart’s desire
  • You can leave a legacy for the generations that will follow you

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  You bet it does!  In fact, this is where most of us would like to be.  So, I now have two questions for you.  One, what stage are you on in your journey to wealth?  And two, how much work are you willing to put in to get to that final stage of wealth building?  Only you can answer these questions.  I can’t and neither can your mommy or spouse.  Only you. 

So, now is the time to look deep within yourself, figure out where you are, where you want to go and why, and how you intend to get there.  A financial coach might be the thing you need to help you reach your goals.  A financial coach will be your guide and your encourager on this long journey.  A financial coach can help you shave years off your journey and save you thousands upon thousands of dollars in wasted time, effort and personal fortune. 

Then if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, take decisive, massive action now and make the changes necessary to live the life of your dreams.  Through private, one-on-one coaching sessions, I can teach you how to build your own personalized wealth action plan.  Contact me at and schedule a free discovery session.  I look forward to helping you on your journey to wealth, no matter what stage you may currently be at.  In the meantime, remember:  Own it, Be it, Achieve it!


Tragedy can strike suddenly, as recent high-profile deaths have highlighted.  Just think of the sudden deaths in the news of late:  Luke Perry, of 90210 fame, dead at 52 from a stroke.  John Singleton, visionary director of “Boyz N The Hood,” dead at 51 from a stroke.  And who can forget Bill Paxton, who most recently starred in the series “Training Day,” dead at 63 from a stroke. 

Tragedy can strike at any time in any place.  But usually, as in the case of strokes or other heart-related conditions, there are warning signs like hypertension, diabetes or a sedentary lifestyle, among others.  And it can be the same with your finances.  It may seem that Murphy has set up permanent residence in your spare bedroom, but is it really Murphy, or something else?  Could it be that we are simply ignoring the warning signs of impending financial tragedy?

True, life happens, and there are some things that you cannot anticipate or plan for.  But, like health problems, there are usually warning signs that something bad is about to happen.  When we ignore those signs, it usually doesn’t end well for us.  But when we heed them, we can most times ward off or at the very least, mitigate, the effects of a sudden financial storm.  With that in mind, this article will look at 7 signs that let you know that you are walking a financial tightrope and are probably headed for a financial tragedy very soon.

SIGN #1- You frequently overdraft your account.

Ah, overdraft protection.  That safety net that banks so gladly offer to save you from miscalculation.  “Go ahead,” they say, “write that check and use that debit card.  Don’t worry about keeping track of your balance.  We got you covered for just a teensy, weensy little fee.”  Yup, banks make a mint off fees and overdraft fees are among the top money makers for them.  But if you are constantly falling back on overdraft protection, it’s a sign of something else more serious.  It’s a sign that you are not paying attention to your spending.  And if you’re not paying proper attention to your spending, eventually you will run out of money to spend.  Then comes the tragedy.  So, get on a budget and track your spending before you become another broke statistic.

SIGN #2- You have to resort to credit cards frequently for “emergencies.”

I’ve written about this before.  Credit cards are no substitute for an emergency savings account.  Resorting to credit cards for “emergencies” or worse, every day expenses, means you are spending beyond your means.  This slow creep will eventually max out your credit card limit and then what are you going to do?  It also means you are not planning properly for the future.  Things like car maintenance, household maintenance items and sickness can be expected and planned for.  The car is going to need new tires.  The boiler will break.  The roof will leak and someone in your home will need to visit the doctor at least annually.  These things can be planned for by putting a line item in your monthly budget for each and stashing away cash for those expected expenses.  Then when they come, they are not “emergencies” but planned-for events that you already have the money set aside for.  The second thing you can do is build a starter emergency fund of at least $1,000.  That catches most of the little stuff and keeps you from giving into the temptation to charge it.  Once you get out of debt you can go ahead and build that up to a 3-6 months of living expenses.

SIGN #3- Your 401k is not ok.

Have you, like me, neglected in your youth to recognize the value of contributing to your 401k or other retirement plan?  It can hurt you dearly in terms of lost savings and income growth which can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.  Failure to pay attention to this warning sign can mean spending your golden years working right up to the day you die or living on the Alpo plan.  Get my drift?  But have no fear.  No matter where you are in life it’s not too late.  Start taking advantage of employer 401k matches and max out all your retirement account options now and you’ll be surprised at how market growth and compound interest combine to make you breathe a lot easier in retirement even if you have as little as 10 years to go.

SIGN #4- You regularly run out of money before your next paycheck comes.

Find yourself having too much month at the end of your money?  That’s a sign of one or two things.  Either you are spending beyond your means or you are just not making enough to cover your basic living expenses.  If the first is the case, sell stuff, lose the car payment, slash your spending and put a halt to retail therapy.  If the second is the case, look for ways to boost your income with a side hustle, overtime, job change or second job.  If not, tragedy will come when you miss as little as one paycheck.

SIGN #5- You have maxed out all your credit cards.

This is a flashing red light with alarm bells ringing!  At this point you’ve run out of the means to support your lifestyle and the creditors are knocking at your door and blowing up your phone.  Repo’s, hits to your credit and eviction are marching towards you over the horizon.  Get a hold of the situation now.  Cut up the credit cards, get on a written budget and get your outgo in line with your income.  Or, you could just ignore the signs and suffer any number of the things I mentioned.  Your choice.

SIGN #6- You are consistently late paying most bills.

If this is you, then you already know the pain of late fees.  Add all those up in the course of a month or year and they can cost you dearly.  Worse, like in sign #5, stuff will start getting repossessed and turned off, like your lights and gas.  Get on a written budget, put alerts on your calendar as to when certain bills are due and set up automatic payments if you are just finding that you are being forgetful and it’s not really a money issue.  If you do, you will find life to be a lot less stressful and considerably more enjoyable.

SIGN #7- You would rather shop than save.

I’m not going to soft soap this one.  This one right here is a sign of lack of self-control and maturity.  Children want what they want when they want it.  They don’t understand the concept of the word “no.”  Adults, on the other hand, know the value of delaying gratification in return for something greater later on.  Things like no stress, no debt, fat bank and retirement accounts and the joys of being able to give to help others in need.  If this is you, stop it right now.  Track your spending and see what your carefree lifestyle is costing you.  Calculate what that money would be worth in 10, 20 or 30 years if invested in good mutual funds.  Realize that it is costing you and your family your future.  And look to other ways to boost your mood like volunteering, having family game nights, connecting with friends or enjoying a wide range of free activities in your area.  

Yes, life happens.  But it doesn’t have to happen to you more than it has to.  Instead, happen to your life.  Take control of your finances.  Pay attention to the warning signs.  If any of these apply to you, take action now!  Educate yourself on personal finance.  You don’t have the luxury of being neglectful of this important area of your life.  Get a financial coach if you feel the need.  Sometimes we truly lack knowledge of the actions we need to take.  Other times we know what we need to do but we just need someone to remind us of why we need to do it.  A financial coach can help in either case.  If you choose to take control of your life today, you can avoid being another tragic statistic tomorrow.  All the best to you and remember, own it, be it, achieve it!


I remember being 19, fresh out of school and having my first REAL job.  I was actually running a computer network for a famous food company in SoHo, Dean & DeLuca.  That was back when knowing DOS actually paid off.  (Did I just give away my age?)  Anyway, I was driving my parent’s rust-orange Chrysler Imperial and as I rode past the Chevy dealer I wondered to myself just how much respect would they give a young, black kid in the car dealership?  What they ended up giving me was more than I bargained for.  Over $10,000 in new car debt!  On a car that was not what I really wanted and I paid full sticker at that!  I came to hate that car.  Every time I made the payment on it I kicked myself.  In the pantheon of epic dumb money moves that one stands out as probably in the top 3 for me.  I’m sure you have your own stories.

The point is, we all have those money moments we wish we could undo.  Money is an integral part of our lives and in life, we will all make mistakes.  The thing is to learn from them and not repeat them ever again.  And when the mistake is big enough that it leaves a mark (Like my $11,000 Chevy Spectrum), we don’t soon forget the pain.  People still love and buy new cars.  But there are a lot of other costly mistakes we make.  We rationalize these by saying everyone else is doing it.  That’s simply no excuse.  These easily turn into a money drain that can sap you of literally millions in future investment earnings. 

In this article we will discuss some of these more common money mistakes and how and why you need to take action to fix them NOW.  They may not seem big at the time, but they will eventually lead to death by a thousand small cuts.  So, let’s see how we can stop the bleeding.


I just had to lead with this one, since the sting of my teen blunder still haunts me to this day.  Everyone loves that new car smell.  But what you’re really smelling as you drive off the lot is the odor of your hard-earned dollars going up in smoke.  See, the typical new car can lose up to half it’s value in the first 2-3 years.  That is why the typical neighborhood millionaire doesn’t even buy them.  Oh, but what about the warranty?  You can still get a used car with much of its manufacturer warranty still intact.  In fact, some certified used cars have a stronger warranty on them than when they were new!

The smarter alternative:  Buy a quality used car that’s about 2-3 years old.  At that point it has done the vast majority of its depreciation and you are paying pretty much dead on what it’s actually going to be worth for some time to come.  It will still continue to depreciate, but at a much slower, less-scarier, rate.  And it still looks practically brand new.  In fact, most people will not even be able to tell the difference.  But your pockets will be able to tell the difference!  And that’s what really counts.


Face it.  We all have fallen into this poor habit at one time or another.  When I worked in the city as a teen so many years ago, I remember spending $6 each day on lunch.  That’s $30 each week and $120 each month.  My car payment was $180.  I made, at that time, $16k a year.  That puts things into perspective.  Nowadays, the typical daily lunch is well north of $10 per day which easily blows away more than $200 of your income each month.  Can you honestly tell me you couldn’t find a better use for that money?

The smarter alternative:  Brownbag it.  Yep, bring a sandwich from home.  Or, pack some leftovers from the night before and heat them up in the microwave at work.  Chances are it will taste better than the fast fare you will get on the street.  And if you just decided to cut your eating out by just half you could bank $1200 per year in your account in this example.  Or better yet, pay off $1200 in debt!


Rent-to-own spots are popping up everywhere.  Problem is, the everywhere only seems to be in lower income neighborhoods.  There’s a reason for that.  The typical millionaire makes decisions based on 10 years from now.  The average poor person makes decisions based on the next payday.  Have you ever calculated the interest rates these places charge?  If you just banked the weekly payment they want, you could actually pay cash for the thing in just a few short months!  Instead, short-sighted folks end up paying many times what the item actually would have cost if purchased outright.

The smarter alternative:  Stash away what you would have given to those crooks at the rent-to-own spot every week.  Exercise a little self-control and save it up until you have enough to buy the thing for cash.  Then you will keep a lot more money in your pocket and you won’t have to worry about a weekly payment sucking your wallet dry.


But don’t the points add up?  Do yourself a favor and ask a millionaire if he ever got rich on points.  I don’t think you will find one who did.  Think about it.  Credit card companies are not in the business to lose money.  They aren’t giving away points out of the goodness of their hearts.  They know most folks will not even redeem them and for those who do, they make so much money in interest that it’s a mere bag of shells to them.  In fact, the average person pays more when using a credit card because they don’t actually feel like they are spending cash.  McDonalds is a prime example.  They found that the typical sale is $4.50 when people use cash, versus $7 when they use plastic!  Now you know why those card terminals are so conveniently placed at every register.

The smarter alternative:  Carry cash and ditch those credit cards.  Dunn & Bradstreet did a study which showed that people spend 12-18% more when using credit cards.  That’s because when you use cash you actually feel the pain of the money leaving your hand.  When you use plastic, you don’t, so you’re apt to spend more.  But if carrying cash around isn’t your thing, at least use a debit card.  Then you won’t be paying interest on that burger and fries for months to come!


What sane person would tell you they would be willing to pass on a legal and guaranteed, double-your-money investment?  None I’m sure.  But that’s what millions of Americans do when they take a pass on their company’s 401k match.  Dude, that’s FREE MONEY!  An automatic 100% return on your money before it even hits the market.  Don’t miss out on that, please!

The smarter alternative:  Contribute at minimum the percentage that your employer matches.  How many other guaranteed ways are there out there to double your money immediately?  I’m not able to think of any actually.  So, head down to Human Resources and sign up for that match today!

We’ve reviewed 5 common money mistakes the average person makes that ends up crippling their ability to grow wealth.  We’ve also reviewed the alternatives you can take to stop the money bleed.  Now you know.  And knowing is half the battle, as they say.  The other half is actually doing something about it.  In other words, if you know, act like you know!  And if you do, you will rise above the average and put yourself on track to becoming an above-average millionaire next door!


Ah, Spring!  A time of renewal, life and light.  We survived the long, dark winter and now brighter days are ahead.  It’s a good time to take a look at things in your life and give them a buff and shine so they look a little nicer.  So, people generally take the time to clean out the garage, clean the house, put away those warm winter clothes and break out the Spring duds because beach season is coming after all. 

It’s no different with your money.  Over the winter your money may have gotten fat and lazy.  It may have also picked up some dust balls that are making it (and YOU!) look bad.  So here are 11 quick and handy tips you can use to dust off your finances and get them into tip-top shape for the coming season.


Every winter season the holidays come.  And every winter season the sales come right along with them.  People who have been behaving and living below their means all year to this point suddenly lose their minds and buy a bunch of stuff they don’t really need, with money they don’t really have, to impress people they don’t really like.  If you are part of the masses and you’ve used the holidays as an excuse to blow through your budget like a weed wacker on steroids now is the time to rein it in and stop the madness.  Sit down and review your expenses, compare it with your income and create a budget that makes sense and is more in line with what you really earn.


Credit cards.  You can’t live with them…  Let’s leave it at that.  If you are like the average American, you are carrying $8600 in credit card debt.  That’s according to a March 2018 ABC News article.  To put what that’s costing you into perspective imagine you had placed that money into an investment account earning 8% (well below the 30-year average S&P 500 12% return rate).  In 10 years that money would be worth $18,566.  In 20 years it would be worth, wait for it, $40,084.  And in 30 years it would be worth a whopping $86,538!  And that’s if you never even added another dime.  Imagine if instead of sending that monthly payment to the banks it went instead into your investment account?  Now that number begins to take off into the 100’s of thousands or, quite easily, millions of dollars.  Get the point?


But everyone lives with a payment, right?  It’s the American way after all.  Yeah, it is.  And that’s why 78% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.  Monthly payments eat into your disposable income like a piranha.  If you don’t want to be average stop carrying debt.  The average American carried over $38,000 in non-mortgage debt in 2018.  If you want to know what’s that’s costing you, just look back at item 2.  Still want to be average?


Emergency, schmergency.  That’s what credit cards are for, right?  Wrong!  40% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency.  Think about that.  As little as $400 can break 40% of us.  To get out of that danger, quickly build a beginner $1,000 emergency fund.  Sell stuff, work extra, turn a hobby into a business, whatever.  Just do it fast.  It won’t catch every possible emergency, but it will catch most and keep you from resorting to those high-interest credit cards as a crutch.  Again, if you haven’t gotten the point, go back to item 2.


Every year millions of Americans wait until the last second to file and end up missing the deadline and thus incur penalties.  Even if you know you owe and don’t have the money to pay, file anyway.  That way you can at least avoid the hefty failure to file penalties, which are 5% for every month the balance goes unpaid up to a maximum of 25% of the balance owed.  Ouch!  You can set up a payment plan with the Feds later on.  Just get it done now.  And when you file, use a professional.  The form 1040, that 69% of us use, takes 16 hours to prepare on average, according to the IRS.  Think about the value of your time and the money that a savvy tax pro can save you.


Got a big refund?  Happy?  You shouldn’t be.  You just loaned the Federal Government your money for one year and they used it without paying you a dime of interest.  The average tax payer in 2016 overpaid the government by $260 each month!  You could have been using that money over the course of the year to pay off debt, build savings, invest or take care of a lot of monthly budget items that need immediate attention.  Still excited about that refund?  If not, adjust your W4 accordingly so you have no, or very little, refund come next tax year.  It’s your money, you work hard for it.  Don’t just give it away to congress to blow on some stupid pet pork project.


If you have paid off all your debt and your 401k has been neglected you are leaving  a lot of money on the table.  For instance, if your employer matches up to a certain percentage, that’s a FREE 100% return on that portion of your contribution.  It’s crazy to give that up.  Also, if you have picked some dog funds that should be taken out back and shot, you are missing out on some big returns from the market.  Do some research and look at the range of funds your employer offers.  Take a few minutes to research the average 10-year return.  If it’s tracking close to the average 30-year stock market return of 12% or more, you’ve got a winner.  If not, you’ve got to make some changes.  It’s your future and your potential loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars if you don’t.


Is your bank fee-happy?  Some banks would charge you for the air you breathe when you walk into one of their branches if they could.  Review your fees.  There are so many options out there now with online banking, credit unions and regional or local banks where you can drastically reduce or even eliminate the fees the big banks charge you.  Many offer no-fee checking, no ATM fees at other machines and no minimum balance requirements.  Shop around and save a buck or two.  Or ten.  Or 30!


Do you have a lot of zombie subscriptions sucking the life blood out of your bank account every month?  You know, stuff that you pay for but never use.  Are you really using that streaming service subscription?  Is your gym membership being used or are you keeping it around just so you can say you belong to a gym?  Get out your statements and list all those recurring subscription and membership charges.  If you are not using them, cut them off immediately.  Those savings can quickly add up to be used elsewhere in your financial plan.


Every person should have life, disability, renters (if you rent), identity theft and long-term care insurance (if you’re over 60).  I’m assuming you have homeowners and auto.  You’re not crazy, right?  If you are missing any of these key defenses in your financial walls, take care of it now.  And when you shop use a broker, who can shop around at multiple companies for the best rate.  On the other hand, using a captive agent  (one who works for a particular company only), locks you into their costs, which may be excessively high and not as good quality coverage as you can get by shopping on the open market.


The first quarter is over.  Most people have thrown their goals into the trash bin by the end of February.  But don’t let that be you!  Dust off that list and see how your financial plan stacks up against it.  Make sure your financial plan works with your goals, not against them.  If adjustments need to be made, refocus and recommit.  Get an accountability partner on board.  Write down your action plan for achieving those goals and review it every day to make sure you are making progress on them and not just making excuses.  If you do, you have a 70% better chance at reaching those goals than everyone else who doesn’t do these things has.  So be a winner, not a lame wanter!

Now that you’ve read through this article, do yourself a favor and take the time to actually do the things you’ve learned.  If doing all of them is too daunting for you right at this moment, pick just one and commit to taking some action on it today.  Then pick another one tomorrow and take action on it that day.  Work your way through the list 15 minutes at a time, one day at a time.  Before you know it, your finances will be fit and in fighting shape for the rest of the year.