New Personal Finance / Financial Literacy Website

Posted March 7, 2011 by Fiscal Literacy
Categories: Uncategorized

FiscalLiteracy.com announces the release of their new educational / informational website on a variety of personal finance topics ie money, budgets, debt free living, personal finances, real estate, mortgages, etc.  

We hope you will take the time to visit the site, review some articles and subscribe via email to receive updates on personal finance stories, news, etc.  

You can also follow us on twitter and facebook. 

You can access the new site at http://www.fiscalliteracy.com/

We look forward to your comments, feedback and participation.

Thank You

First Step in Debt Free Living – Controlling Your Spending

Posted January 17, 2011 by Fiscal Literacy
Categories: Budget, Financial Literacy, Fiscal Literacy, Goals, Inspiration, life, Money, Personal Finances, Success

Tags: , , , , , ,

The first step to financial independence and debt free living is to control your spending.  We live in a consumer driven world that encourages the use of credit for every purchase.   As a result, Americans are burdened by excessive consumer debt.  A recent report by the Federal Reserve stated that Americans owe approximately 826 billion in revolving credit card debt.   The burden of this debt is overwhelming families and robbing them of their hopes and dreams for the future.

A roman author, Pubilius Syrus from the 1st century wrote this quote 2,000 years ago.   “Debt is the slavery of the free”   How much more true is this quote today? 

If you are ready to take control of your financial future you must start by taking control of your spending.  Here are some proven tips and ideas to that are easily implemented that can dramatically impact your personal finances.

Breakout Your Expenses – Pull out all of your credit card statements, bank statements,  etc. and breakout all of your expenses into specific categories.   Create a ledger and enter each individual expense into the appropriate category.  Review each expense to determine what is a regular monthly recurring living expense and what were discretionary purchases.    Then total each category for last month.  This first step will provide you with some interesting data on your spending habits.  It will also provide you ideas on where you can start reducing or eliminating unnecessary expenses.

Track Every Expense for 30 Days – This exercise is absolutely critical and it will provide you some great insights into your spending habits if you track every dollar you spend for 30 days.  Use the memo pad in your cell phone or keep a small notebook with you to write down each expense as it occurs.   Don’t see this exercise as a burden.  Have some fun with it.  Set up a ledger with different expense categories and enter all of your expenses at the end of every day.  Use the same ledger system to enter all of your normal payments on the 1st and 15th as well into their specific categories.  

Debt Free Living is Possible – What if you were debt free?  How would you live differently?   Debt free living can be a reality for anyone that is willing to commit to the goal.  I hope you will take some time as part of this exercise to stop and think about your life, your finances and your hopes, goals and dreams for your life.  Take the time to reflect on how your debt has impacted your life and your finances.  More importantly, take some time to declare some new goals for your life.  Goals based on being debt free.   Goals that will motivate you and inspire you to take action today to take control of your personal finances and change your life forever.   See my previous post Financial Literacy begins with – The Power of a Vision to Transform Your Life and Your Finances.

Accept the Challenge – I hope you will make the commitment to track your expenses for 30 days.  The exercise is truly valuable.  It will provide you new insights into where all of your money goes every month.  It will also provide you with some ideas and insights on how to reduce or eliminate unnecessary expenses.  This is the first step in taking control of your finances and moving closer to debt free living and achieving financial freedom.

Challenging Our Family –  I am going to take this challenge as well.  I will keep you updated on my progress, my breakthroughs and my insights.   This will be a great exercise for my wife and two teenagers.  We will make it a fun family challenge with a prize for achieving the goal of tracking every expense for our entire family for 30 days.  This is an excellent opportunity to share financial literacy lessons with our kids.

Quotes to Motivate and Inspire:

Empty pockets never held anyone back.  Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that”  Norman Vincent Peale

“A miser grows rich by seeming poor.  An extravagant man grows poor by seeming rich” William Shakespeare

“If you would like to be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting” Benjamin Franklin

“If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can’t buy” Proverbs quote

“It is not how much you earn, but how much you save”  Anonymous

 

I hope you have benefited from this post on Financial Literacy.  If so, leave a comment.  In addition, please forward this to anyone you think might benefit from this short financial literacy lesson. 

You can follow Fiscal Literacy on Twitter and Facebook.

Begin 2011 with a Personal Budget

Posted January 7, 2011 by Fiscal Literacy
Categories: Assets, Budget, Fiscal Literacy, Generosity, Giving, Goals, Inspiration, Liabilities, life, Money, Personal Finances, Success

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A personal budget is absolutely critical for anyone that is committed to taking control of their personal finances.  Why? Because a budget provides us the input we need to manage our income, track our expenses, improve our cash flow to payoff debt and start a savings plan.  A personal budget provides us a tool to work on achieving our financial goals.   It is the first step in taking control of our personal finances.

Therefore, the start of a new year is the perfect time to commit to creating and using a personal budget.   This does not have to be an overwhelming task.  There are countless free personal budget resources and free personal budget software resources online to help you get started.  Don’t get caught up in selecting the perfect budget format.  It is not that important.  What is important is capturing all of your income and expenses.  Pick something that is simple to use.  We use a simple budget worksheet in Excel. Here is a link to a Microsoft personal budget template that has over 3.4 million downloads.  http://bit.ly/gatAnx

It is also very important when creating a personal budget to capture all of your miscellaneous expenses that occur throughout the month.  The only way to accurately capture all of these expenses is to save every receipt for every dollar you spent for a minimum of 30 days.  This information  is essential to preparing an accurate monthly budget.  It will also provide you some great insights into where all of your money goes on a monthly basis.

Once you have completed an accurate monthly budget and have captured all of your expenses you can start looking for creative ways to reduce or eliminate unnecessary expenses and save money.  The monthly savings you create can be used to start paying off consumer debt and funding your savings goals.   

A personal budget is the first step in taking control of our personal finances, controlling our spending and achieving our financial goals for our lives.    Start today and change your life and finances forever.  

 I hope you have benefited from this post on Financial Literacy.  If so, leave a comment.  In addition, please forward this to anyone you think might benefit from this short financial literacy lesson. 

You can follow Fiscal Literacy on Twitter and Facebook

Top 10 Financial Resolutions for 2011

Posted January 4, 2011 by Fiscal Literacy
Categories: Assets, Financial Literacy, Fiscal Literacy, Goals, Inspiration, Interest, Money, Personal Finances

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The start of a New Year is always an opportunity for each of us to reflect on our lives, establish new goals and renew our commitment to improving our lives.   One of the most important areas of our lives is our personal finances.  Our personal finances impact every area of our lives.  Therefore, it is essential that we take control of our personal finances.  

Here are some ideas and proven financial concepts that can dramatically impact your personal life and finances.   I hope you will take the time to read through them.   More importantly, I hope you will take the time to implement some of these ideas into your own personal finances.  

10.   Commit Time Everyday to Improving Your Financial Literacy.  How much time will you spend on the internet and watching TV today, this week or this year?  How much time have you invested today, this week or this year improving your financial literacy?   What is more important?   There are countless free resources available on the subject of personal finances and improving your financial literacy.   Remember, we must take full responsibility for our own financial lives.  Simplify this task by working on one subject at a time.  Pick something basic like home budgets, etc. and get started today. Work on this with your spouse, family, friends etc.  Together you will learn more and encourage one another. 

9.    Simplify Your Life – Our worlds are becoming more complex with every passing day.  What is consuming your life, your money and your attention and distracting you from the real things in life that are truly important in your life?  What can you eliminate or give away that will cut your expenses, free up your mind and simplify your life? 

8.   Protect Your Credit  –  Your credit scores are a reflection of how you have handled your credit and the repayment of your debt.  Your credit score is also used by lenders and other institutions to evaluate your risk in a variety of areas.   Your credit score may be used in conjunction with securing employment, renting housing, obtaining auto insurance, etc.   Therefore, it is essential that you do everything possible to protect your credit score.  Since your credit score is a reflection of you it is essential that you take the necessary steps to prevent and protect yourself from identity theft.   

7.   Asset Protection – It is absolutely critical that you have a will or a trust to protect their assets and provide for your family.  You do not have to be wealthy in order to have a will or a trust.  If you own a home, car, IRA / retirement accounts, insurance policies, etc you need a will or a trust.  This is absolutely critical if you have minor children.   A will or a trust allows you to decide who will be the guardian for your kids, who will receive your assets, etc.  Do not risk leaving these critical decisions to be decided by a court appointed representative in probate. 

6.   Create Clear, Concise Financial Goals – This is one of the most important steps in achieving financial freedom.  It is our clearly stated goals that we have committed to writing that will compel us to take action to achieve financial freedom.  Without clearly stated goals we will abandon our financial commitments for the future and only think of our immediate wants and needs.  We cannot afford to waste our precious time, money and resources consuming our future by our lifestyle choices today.  Therefore, it is absolutely essential that you take some time and write out your vision and goals for your finances and life.   You want goals that will inspire you.  Goals that motivate you to achieve financial freedom and live the life you have always imagined living.  For more information on this subject see my previous post.

5.   Pay Yourself  First – This is not a suggestion, but a key fundamental rule for anyone that has achieved financial freedom.   Have you ever stopped to ask consider how hard you work for your money?  Who are you really working for the bank, the mortgage company, the credit card company?  Stop making someone else rich!  You must always pay yourself first.   Start saving today and learn how to put your money to work for you.

4.   Establish Cash Cushion   A cash cushion is an emergency fund that is created to cover your living expenses for 3-6 months.  It is also used to cover unforeseen expenses, repairs, etc. that come up in everyday life.  The purpose of a cash cushion is to keep you from incurring expenses on your credit card when emergencies arise.  A cash cushion will also provide you peace of mind that you have 3-6 months living expenses in the bank at any time.   I encourage you today to set up a separate bank account and start funding your cash cushion account.

3.   Stop Consuming Your Future – Control Your Spending   When was the last time you reconciled every dollar you spent for the last 30 days?   When was the last time you looked at every charge on your credit card statement?   I challenge you to track every expense for a minimum of 30 days to see where all the money goes every month.   Use this exercise to look for ways to reduce unnecessary expenses, save money, etc.  We live in a consumer driven world.  Our spending habits are consuming our future.  We must take control of our spending habits to start moving towards achieving financial freedom.

2.   Become Debt Free – Debt is consuming the lives of millions of people.   Debt is what keeps us from pursuing our hopes, goals and dreams for our lives.  Debt robs us of our future.  The only way we can take control of our financial lives and our future is by becoming debt free and never going back into debt.  Debt free living must become your passion and your unrelenting goal.  Debt free living can be a reality for anyone that is willing to commit to the goal.  What if you were debt free?  How would it change your life?  What could you do or pursue if you were debt free?

1.   Create & Live Within A Budget    A budget is absolutely critical for anyone that is committed to achieving financial freedom in their lives.  A budget provides us the input we need to manage our income and our expenses.  A budget provides us accountability. A budget provides us a tool to work on achieving our financial goals.  A budget will dramatically impact your personal finances.   It will provide you the roadmap to achieve your financial goals.

 I hope you have benefited from this post on Financial Literacy.  If so, leave a comment.  In addition, please forward this to anyone you think might benefit from this short financial literacy lesson. 

You can follow Fiscal Literacy on Twitter and Facebook.

Fiscal Literacy Friday – Commit to Improving Your Financial Literacy

Posted December 17, 2010 by Fiscal Literacy
Categories: Assets, Budget, Financial Literacy, Fiscal Literacy, Giving, Goals, Inspiration, life, Money, Personal Finances, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Nothing is more important than each of us taking control of our personal finances.   We cannot rely on someone else to make our decisions for us.   We need to accept the responsibility for our actions and the outcomes of our lives.    I believe this is great news for all of us.  

No one has more vested interest in the outcome of our lives than we do.   This does not mean we do not seek out experts for assistance, help and guidance with our personal finances.    Financial experts play a very valuable role in helping us in a variety of areas.   I have been an invaluable asset and provided expert advice to thousands of clients.

However,  each of us should be committed to increasing our knowledge in a variety of areas relating to our personal finances, debt, assets, real estate, mortgages, investments and our retirement goals, etc.   Our increased financial knowledge will help educate and empower us to make informed financial decisions  that impact every area of our lives.  Our increased financial literacy will help us understand the recommendations of the experts that we seek out for additional advice and input with our personal finances.

Many people never work on improving their financial literacy because they feel that they do not have the knowledge or education to learn or apply financial principles to their lives.  Therefore, they become overwhelmed and never get started.   

However, understanding financial literacy at its simplest form is relatively easy.   We need to spend less and save more!   This is a very simple statement.  However, it is difficult to implement because of the lifestyle and spending choices we make everyday.  We never stop to consider how each purchase or swipe of the credit card is consuming our future.     Therefore, each of us needs to start today to take control of our personal finances with simple things like setting a limit on our spending, saving all our receipts to track our expenses for 30 days, limiting the use of our credit cards and setting aside money very month to fund a cash cushion, etc. 

There are countless resources on the internet from government agencies, non-profits & companies that can help get you started on improving your financial literacy and taking control of your personal finances.    I hope you will get started today.

Here is my closing thought and one simple question.   How much time did you spend on the internet and watching TV today, this week or this year?  How much time have you invested today, this week or this year improving your financial literacy?   What is more important?  

Remember, we must take full responsibility for our own financial lives.  Simplify this task by working on one subject at a time.  Pick something basic like home budgets, etc. and get started today. Work on this with your spouse, family, friends etc.  Together you will learn more and encourage one another. 

I hope you have benefited from this post on Financial Literacy.  If so, leave a comment.  In addition, please forward this to anyone you think might benefit from this short financial literacy lesson. 

You can follow Fiscal Literacy on Twitter and Facebook.

Fiscal Literacy Friday – Concept of Generosity

Posted December 10, 2010 by Fiscal Literacy
Categories: Assets, Financial Literacy, Fiscal Literacy, Generosity, Giving, Goals, Inspiration, Interest, life, Money, Personal Finances, Success, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Generosity should be a component of building and applying our knowledge of financial literacy to our own lives.  Why is generosity such an important component of financial literacy?  Because it takes the focus off of our own selfish desires for our lives.  It provides us with a greater purpose for our money that far exceeds our own selfish desires. 

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give” Duane Hulse

We all need to be reminded that our lives will not be remembered for how much we earned or how hard we worked.  Our lives will be remembered for how we touched and impacted the lives of others. 

  “All of us are born for a reason, but all of us don’t discover why.  Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.” Danny Thomas

Therefore, each of us should look for more meaningful ways to use our money, time and talents to impact others less fortunate than ourselves. 

We don’t have to wait to become millionaires to start practicing the concept of generosity.  We can start today. There is always someone less fortunate than us and we can impact their lives today.

Maybe this holiday season each of us should be asking ourselves this question: 

What is the greatest gift I can give this holiday season?  It is the gift of my time & resources to help others less fortunate than myself.

Here are some questions that may help you get started:

  •  Where can I make a difference this holiday season?
  • Who or what is on my heart? 
  • How can I use my unique gifts and abilities to touch and impact the lives of others less fortunate?  
  • Where can I and or my family get involved? 
  • Where is an unmet need in my community or in the world that I feel passionate about getting involved in?
  • What random acts of kindness can I anonymously perform today? 

 “You have not lived a perfect day, even though you have earned your money, unless you have done something for someone else who will never be able to repay you”  Ruth Smeltzer

 Ralph Waldo Emerson said “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself”

Therefore, I hope you will use this holiday season to find your purpose and passion in life for helping others.  This new found purpose for you and your money may be the first step towards getting freed up financially.  It may provide the motivation to reduce your expenses, become debt free, set a cap on your lifestyle and use your resources to make a lasting difference in your community and our world.

I hope you have benefited from this post on Financial Literacy.  If so, leave a comment.  In addition, please forward this to anyone you think might benefit from this short lesson on the 10 Keys to Financial Freedom.  

You can follow Fiscal Literacy on Twitter and Facebook.

Fiscal Literacy Friday / Financial Literacy 3 Keys to Debt Free Living

Posted November 19, 2010 by Fiscal Literacy
Categories: Assets, Budget, Financial Literacy, Goals, Inspiration, Interest, life, Money, Personal Finances, Success, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Debt is consuming the lives of millions of people.   Debt is what keeps us from pursuing our hopes, goals and dreams for our lives.  Debt robs us of our future.  The only way we can take control of our financial lives and our future is by becoming debt free and never going back into debt.  Debt free living must become your passion and your unrelenting goal.  Debt free living can be a reality for anyone that is willing to commit to the goal.  What if you were debt free?  How would it change your life?  What could you do or pursue if you were debt free?  Here are 3 Steps to help you become debt free.  

 

1.  Cut Expenses – We live in a consumer driven world.  Our spending habits are consuming our future.  We must take control of our spending habits to start moving towards achieving debt free living.  Therefore, the first step towards achieving debt free living is to cut out our unnecessary expenses.  When was the last time you reconciled every dollar you spent for the last 30 days?   When was the last time you looked at every charge on your credit card statement?   I challenge you to track every expense for a minimum of 30 days to see where all the money goes every month.  My family and I just completed this exercise.  I was blown away at how much money we wasting every month.  We were only able to identify these unnecessary expenses by tracking every dollar and keeping every receipt for a minimum of 30 days.  This simple exercise has dramatically impacted our spending habits and has freed up a lot of money.  Therefore, I challenge you to use this exercise to look for ways to reduce your unnecessary expenses and start saving money.

2.  Payoff Debt – Our debt is typically the result of the lifestyle choices we make on a daily basis.  We never stop to realize that with every swipe of the credit card we are consuming our future.  We never stop to think how much the new car, boat or other luxury items we purchase with a personal loan costs us over our lifetime.  Until one day we wake up and realize we have nothing to show for all of our hard work.  This is the reason millions of people are unable to retire and enjoy life the always dreamed of living. Therefore, nothing is more important than paying off your debt and taking control of your financial future.  We must create a plan to systematically eliminate all our debt one debt at a time.  We must commit to stop using our charge cards and only paying cash.  This will require a change in lifestyle and discipline. However, the financial freedom and rewards of debt free living will change your life forever.   It will free you up financially to pursue your hopes, goals and dreams for your life. 

3.  Cash Cushion – It is a lack of personal savings that forces us to use our credit cards or obtain personal loans to pay for the expenses we incur in our lives.   Many of these expenses are unplanned expenses for car repairs, kid’s braces, home repairs, etc.  We also use our credit cards for pay for other large expenses i.e. vacations, holiday shopping, home furnishings, etc.  These large expenses dramatically impact our overall debt, increase the costs of every purchase due to the interest we pay over time and also reduce or eliminate our ability to save money, fund retirement, etc on a monthly basis.  Therefore, we must commit to establishing and funding a cash cushion account or emergency funds account to pay cash for these expenses as opposed to charging the expenses.    

A cash cushion is an emergency fund that is created to cover your living expenses for 3-6 months.  It is also used to cover unforeseen expenses, repairs, etc. that come up in everyday life.  The purpose of a cash cushion is to keep you from incurring expenses on your credit card when emergencies arise.  A cash cushion will also provide you peace of mind that you have 3-6 months living expenses in the bank at any time.   I encourage you today to set up a separate bank account and start funding your cash cushion account

I hope you have benefited from this post on Financial Literacy.  If so, leave a comment.  In addition, please forward this to anyone you think might benefit from this short financial literacy lesson. 

You can follow Fiscal Literacy on Twitter and Facebook.