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Music Mondays – Home by Daughtry

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I will probably write a few blogs about home and the joys of returning home. Due to the poor economy and bleak job prospects for recent college grads, many young people are graduating and moving home. Because of this, the media has dubbed this generation the “Peter Pan” or “Boomerang” Generation. According to a Pew Research Study, 36% of 18-31 year olds live with their parents. This is close to 22 million people and the highest level in four decades. When I left for college, I was told by both of my parents that I could not come home, and I had to take care of myself. Granted the time was different, but it would have been nice to know that I had a “safety net” when I left.

If you are reading this and you are boomeranging, I think you should feel thankful that you are able to go home. I know that you wish your roomie was your best friend and not your dad, but it’s actually very Financially Blonde to move back in with your parents. Close to 40% of your income typically goes to housing costs. If you can avoid paying those for as long as possible, then you give yourself a better opportunity to get off on the right foot financially when you are ready (assuming you are saving what you would have been paying in living costs while at home). You also give yourself the most flexibility about where you can move next. If you’re not committed to a lease, then you give yourself more options as far as jobs, graduate school, or relationships. So when you get bummed that your scenery has not changed since high school, listen to Daughtry sing of home and the eagerness he feels as he yearns to return there. Enjoy this time. You may actually miss it one day!

Top Ten Cities I Would Love To Visit

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I don’t have many regrets in life, but one of the few that I have is not traveling abroad more before I had my son. The handful of times that I did leave the country, I had a profound experience, and I developed an appreciation for the various cultures that I got to witness. When my son is older, we plan to travel with him as much as possible. I think it is important to have an understanding and appreciation for all cultures, and the best way to develop that (other than living in NYC) is to travel overseas and get immersed in it. So, the top ten cities that I would love to visit include:

10) Siem Reap, Cambodia – I love that this city has completely reinvented itself from the city I learned about in history class 20+ years ago. I have had friends visit and say amazing things about the food and culture, and I would love to see for myself.

9) Istanbul, Turkey – I can’t think of this city without thinking of the song by They Might Be Giants. Despite the song, though, I have a few friends from Turkey, and their amazing stories of their homeland from the cuisine to the terrain have made me want to add it to my “must-visit” destination list.

8) Cape Town, South Africa – I have been a fan of South African wines for many years, and the wine tours alone would make this city an interesting one for me. However, I have a friend who lived here with her husband for four years and gave me many more reasons to enjoy this great city.

7) Sydney, Australia – I don’t love the idea of spending the greater part of a day on a plane to try to get anywhere; however, after watching Oprah’s trip to Sydney during her last season, I realized that some flights are worth the effort.

6) Hong Kong, China – My son has a friend from China who takes Mandarin classes regularly and tries to educate my son on Chinese culture. I love this friend because he has inspired a sense of adventure in my son who counts China high on his list of places to visit. And I happen to have family living in Hong Kong, so maybe we can crash with them?

5) San Jose, Costa Rica – When I first started dating my husband, I went on a family vacation to Italy and he went on a singles cruise to Costa Rica (It was booked before we met). I LOVED Italy, but seeing his pictures from Costa Rica made me want to spend time there as well.

4) Paris, France – One of my family’s favorite movies is Ratatouille. Every time we watch it, my husband makes Ratatouille “Remy style” and we plan our trip to Paris including where we plan to eat and visit.

3) Cuzco, Peru – This is typically the starting point for hikes up to Macchu Picchu and filled with a great history of the Incan Empire. Hiking Macchu Picchu is an absolute bucket list item for me.

2) Vancouver, Canada – I love the mountains and a cool environment. Ever since this city hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, it has made my list of places to visit.

1) Dublin, Ireland – I am Irish, and I am told by my mom, named after the Shannon River in Ireland. I am proud of my heritage; however, I have never been to Ireland. I look forward to this trip the most!

The Me Market

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Investment Advice

When I was a financial advisor, I met with people and knew they expected to be sitting across from the next Oracle of Omaha or at least the Oracle of Westchester County.  They had the assumption that because I was “in the business,” I had special insight into the markets and how to make them lots of money.  Truthfully, I thought that when I became a financial advisor, I would acquire that very knowledge.  Then I became a financial advisor, and I liken the journey to that of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.  I was hoping to reach the end of the training and meet the Wizard, who would grant my ragtag friends and me everything we ever wanted.  And similar to Dorothy, what I learned when I pulled back the curtain is that the Wizard is just an old guy hiding behind gadgets trying to make us believe in miracles.  Wall Street is FULL of old white guys trying to convince us to believe in market miracles. Just as Dorothy and her friends learned that they held the magic within themselves, the same applies for success in your personal wealth. There truly is no great and powerful market miracle except the one that is inside you. Advisors love to talk about “Asset Allocation” and the value of having your investments in different asset categories, which then leads you to invest in different markets. The “traditional” markets include: the bond market, stock market,  and real estate market. What I realized is that there is one market that is more powerful, with the ability to provide the most consistent returns over time – it is what I call the “ME” market.

The ME market is what you are able to save every year.  On average, a well-diversified portfolio will give you 6-8% returns over time. This means if you have $10,000 to invest, you would make around $600­–$800 a year from the traditional markets. The wizards of Wall Street want us all to believe that 6-8% returns are a good thing. Don’t get me wrong – positive returns are better than nothing. If I found $600 on the street, I would be happy. However, there is a better market to rely on and that is the ME. Can you challenge yourself to save (i.e. make) more than $600 a year or $50 a month? If you are employed, I KNOW you can!! In fact, I bet you could save $1,000 or more. If you can do this, then you can expect a 10% or greater return on your money. If you could get to $3,000 a year or $250 a month, you would have given yourself a 30% return for the year. There is not a SINGLE investment or market that you could invest in that would GUARANTEE you a 30% return for the year. But if you commit to the ME market, the ME market can outperform the other markets consistently over time. I challenge you to invest in the ME market and prove all of the old white guys wrong.  Whatever you have saved, whether it’s $0, $10,000, or $100,000, make it a goal to beat the Wall Street numbers this year and make more than 6-8%. If you don’t know how to start or you don’t think you can do it, reach out to me, and I’ll help you.  Keep me posted on your progress and keys to success so we can all beat the wizards this year!

Music Mondays – Kinky Boots

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Lessons from Kinky Boots

I would call myself a theater geek. From the moment I was in summer camp in 4th Grade and sang “One” from A Chorus Line, I was hooked. When I was younger, I was painfully shy and insecure and the theater gave me an outlet to grow and express myself. I continued with this passion through high school; however, I became more “practical” in college and focused on my business major instead of acting, but I never lost my love for the art form. Living in New York, I have access to numerous shows on Broadway and I try to indulge as much as possible. Through Facebook, I discovered that a friend of mine (whose mom choreographed the high school plays I acted in) was cast in a new musical, Kinky Boots, which was written by Harvey Fierstein with music by Cyndi Lauper. The fact that Jeff was in the show alone made it a certainty that I would see it, but the creative combination of Fierstein and Lauper made me even more enthused. I was fortunate enough to see the show twice while it was in previews and I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had in the theater in a long time.

The musical tells the story of Charlie Price whose father passes away unexpectedly and leaves him with a family shoe manufacturing business that Charlie was not planning on running. Despite this change in plans, he takes over but after being inspired by a drag queen, Lola, Charlie decides to make shoes for drag queens instead. We hear the song, “Take What You Got” early in the play after Charlie loses his dad. This song not only provides a lesson in life, but a lesson in finances. Through the song, Charlie’s friend tells him that when life hands you something unexpected then sometimes you need to change course and re-write your life. These “life surprises” happen to all of us. And sometimes they have a financial impact as in the loss of a spouse, a job, or the unexpected gift of a child. As in the case of Charlie, we should not let this get us down, rather we should view this as an opportunity to re-write our lives and find something new and wonderful in that re-write. Charlie never expected to run his dad’s shoe company; however, when he took on that challenge, his life became something more rich and special. You may not have wanted to lose your job, move to a new city or take a pay cut; however, you have been given a gift to re-write the direction of your life. Embrace it and plan for it. You may have temporary pain while you are adjusting, but in the long run, it can be a beautiful gift.

When I create financial plans for clients, I always want them to prepare for the unexpected events in life. Even though we may not want these things to transpire, sometimes they are not in our control. What is in our control is how we respond to them and how we move forward. Sometimes you have to “take what you got, even when your life is in knots” but that doesn’t mean that when you “re-write the plot” it won’t have a brilliant ending.

Top Ten Free Or Cheap Things To Do

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Free Or Cheap Things To Do

10) Watching shows on my computer or i-Pad – I DVR a number of programs, but sometimes as a break from work, I like to pull up individual videos of Hoda and Kathie Lee or Jimmy Fallon.

9) Spending time with family – I have A LOT of family and when I was younger I hated spending time with them. As I have grown up, I have come to appreciate my family and enjoy our time together.

8) Visiting Museums – I have a great friend who has been working in the museum community for years and she has completely opened up my eyes to the joys of museum walking. As a Bank of America customer, I can go to museums for free on certain dates just by showing my debit card.

7) Cooking a new recipe – I have challenged myself to cook more and not only make yummy, healthy meals, but inexpensive ones. So far, the boys are happy and so is the bank account.

6) Pinteresting – I could spend hours pinning anything from quotes, to recipes, to tattoo pictures.

5) Walking / Working Out – I live in a beautiful part of New York and around this time of year, there is nothing better than getting out in the fresh air surrounded by fall colored trees.

4) Sleeping – Ever since becoming a mom over 7 years ago, sleep has become such a valuable resource and every night slept without interruption is more valuable than gold.

3) Google/Facebook or LinkedIn stalking people – I confess to being a web stalker. I can’t help it. And don’t judge because you know you do too!

2) Talking or Texting with friends – My dad recently said, “You can’t make new old friends.” It’s true. There is also a Girl Scouts song that says, “make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.” Also true. Love my new and old friends.

1) Reading – Three years ago I got a kindle and it changed my life. I make it a habit to support self-published authors, so I typically spend no more than $1.99 on a book that transports me to a whole new world for hours or days at a time and I love it!

The Importance of Planning for Fun!

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Planning For Fun

Living a financially fit life means having to make difficult choices on what you can and can’t do. It’s the same concept of living a physically fit lifestyle. I used to be 50 pounds overweight because I couldn’t say no to food and yes to working out. Then I signed up for Weight Watchers, and realized that I needed to make smarter choices in my life. I couldn’t eat 4 slices of pizza AND get dessert. As a financial planner, I frequently have to help my clients make difficult yet smart financial choices so they can live a financially fit life. And I hate the part of my job where I have to tell people “no.” As a middle child who has a need to please others, telling my clients they can’t buy purses or go on trips is not fun. But the way that I work around this “no” is helping them plan for the “fun” in their lives. When you have a plan and you work towards it, then you can actually say “yes” more than “no.” And I not only help my clients with this, but I practice what I preach.

So, last week was my 10th wedding anniversary, and since I knew it was a big one, I knew that I wanted to do something fun and not feel bad about the cost of doing something fun. After a conversation earlier in the year, FB Hubby and I started to put aside extra “cash” into our “anniversary fund.” This was not necessarily part of our overall family budget; however, this was extra money that we had in our wallets at the end of every week that we specifically earmarked for fun. Last week, in anticipation of our celebration, we opened the envelope from our safe and realized that we had $800 for fun!! And boy did we have fun!

If you want to do something fun like take a vacation, buy the newest i-Pad or a new pair of shoes, then make it part of your plan for the year and create a specific fund for the “fun.” You will not only get to have the fun you were hoping for, but you will not have the stress of higher credit card balances or less money in the bank because you had “fun.” We all work really hard to “get by” and just pay for basic living, but without the fun in life, the task of just getting by becomes even more arduous. This week, I hope you think about fun things you would love to do and put a plan together so that you can make it happen. Let me know about your successes!

My First Book!!!

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I am SO excited to announce that after years of working with clients and months of writing, that my first book, Financially Blonde’s Guide to Financial Fitness, is available today in eBook format!! As a financial planner, I frequently witnessed that a person’s ability to achieve their financial goals had little to do with how much money they made or how well their investments performed, but rather a commitment to make smart financial decisions (both big and small) throughout their life. I believe that financial fitness is as important to success in life as physical fitness and just as there are different paths to physical fitness based on body type, there are different paths to financial fitness based on your financial personality type, and I address those in this book. The great news is that EVERYONE can become financially fit as long as you commit to making it a priority.

This book is the first of a series, and it is intended to help people “walk before they can run” when it comes to personal finance. My next books will tackle other topics such as investing, insurance, health care and student loans in greater detail. Don’t let the pink cover or title distract you, this is an appropriate book for men and women and the eBook provides a great way for men to disguise the fact that they are reading a pink book. 🙂 The process of writing this book has been a labor of love, and I am so excited to finally share this with you!

You can now purchase the eBook from the following websites:

1) Amazon

2) i-Tunes

3) Copia

4) Kobo

In the next few weeks, it will be available online at Barnes and Noble. In addition, I plan to sell hardcopy versions through this blog in the near future!

 

 

Music Mondays – Heat of the Moment

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Heat Of The Moment

I am a huge fan of 80s music. Growing up, I frequently tried to avoid my siblings as much as possible, so I holed myself up in my room and listened to my clock radio (it was all I had) all day. The soundtrack of my escape was 80s music. I have fond memories of days spent with Bon Jovi, Journey, and Foreigner. I daydreamed about being friends with Tiffany and Debbi Gibson. This music shaped my life, and it still does.

I have to confess that I’m not the biggest Asia fan, but I am a fan of this song, which was highlighted in a bike escape scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. From a financial perspective, we can all relate to this song. We have all had times where we are in the heat of the moment and make a financial choice we may or may have not planned on making. Impulse buying is a very common habit, and retailers often rely on it. In this article from MediaScope, they claim that 40% of purchases are impulse buys and 90% of people have made impulsive purchases.

While some of these purchases are not financially troubling on their own (i.e. gum, i-tunes songs, magazines), they can add up to problems over time. The same article states that the average person spends $114,293 in a lifetime on impulse spending.

So how do we prevent ourselves from spending a college education on impulsive buys? Here are some tips to help you from getting caught up in the “Heat of the Moment.”

1)   Stop and ask yourself why you are buying it before you buy it. If it is not life or death or you have not planned for it, then you probably shouldn’t buy it.

2)   If you forget to stop yourself, then keep your receipt and don’t take tags off. You will likely get buyer’s remorse after the fact, and you want to make sure you can get your money back with no issues.

3)   ALWAYS ask about return policies especially for larger items. If there is not an “easy” way to return the item, then walk away and think more about if you really “need” or “want” that item. It is easier to deal with the disappointment of not making that purchase on the spot rather than the buyer’s remorse and inability to reclaim your money after the fact.

Here is the video for this song.  I LOVE videos from the 80s! They are truly ridiculous. I love how they chose to shoot a VERY literal interpretation of this song. Too funny!  Enjoy!