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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!

Top Ten Movie Wedding Scenes

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Top Ten Movie Wedding Scenes

Today is my 10 year wedding anniversary and I thought I would celebrate year 10 of marriage through my blog by posting a Top 10 list every Friday for the next year. I also thought it would be a fun way for my blog followers to get to know me better. With weddings on the brain, I thought I would start this new blog series with my Top 10 Movie Wedding Scenes. I hope you enjoy this and your weekend!

10 ) Wedding Crashers – The concept of this movie was brilliant, and I love the montage of weddings crashed during the song Shout. It is hysterical to see the two of them bond with the family and friends of complete strangers.

9) My Best Friend’s Wedding – I actually did not enjoy Julia Roberts for most of this movie. I mean, she does spend the majority of the movie trying to sabotage her best friend’s wedding. But this scene in the end is so touching that it made me forgive her for all of her shenanigans throughout.

8) Father of the Bride – Steve Martin’s angst over his daughter’s surprise engagement and wedding were fun to watch throughout, but it was really moving to watch him “give” his daughter away and fight the emotion of the moment.

7) My Big Fat Greek Wedding – This was a very funny movie with great moments throughout, but I really enjoyed the Greek family spitting on Toula while she is walking down the aisle and the look of disgust on her in-laws face over the tradition.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2bPpvY_T3Q&list=PL5CAC3AF16E6472B5

6) Tangled Ever After – Tangled is one of my all-time favorite Disney movies, and I love that they created a short film to show Rapunzel and Eugene’s wedding. I particularly love the chameleon flower “boy”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXJt0HraEd4

5) Love Actually – This is probably one of my all-time favorite movies and one of the few movies that followed a number of different couples and yet you were attached to all of them. I love the surprise rendition of All You Need Is Love with the pop-up instrumentalists throughout.

4) Sixteen Candles – This movie is another one of my all-time favorite movies and Ginny walking down the aisle hopped up on pain pills because she got her period is one of the highlights. I particularly love her saying “love the teapot” about her guest’s hat.

3) Old School – This movie was truly a showcase for Vince Vaughn and Frank’s wedding scene is classic. My favorite line is “Well Columbus wasn’t looking for America my man but that seemed to work out for everybody. Didn’t it? You’re here you know what I mean.” And because it completely changed the way I heard the song Total Eclipse of the Heart, I had to add the other video as well.

2) Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1 – I am a self-confessed Twilight fan. I got into the books before the fourth one, Breaking Dawn, had been released. So I was beyond excited when it finally came out and Edward and Bella got to have their wedding. I thought this book and movie were the weakest of the series, but I did love the wedding scene. I particularly loved the fact that they recreated it for the movie almost exactly as it was described in the book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCYpTtBg5PU

1) Sex and the City – Like many fans of the show, I was hoping that when this movie came out that Big and Carrie would get married. So, like most people who saw the movie, I was beyond devastated that Carrie’s “perfect” wedding was an epic fail, but when they finally do get married, you realize that this was truly the perfect ending/beginning for Big and Carrie.

Lessons from the Grocery Store

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Saving money on food shopping

So, I have never been good with couponing and planning in advance to save money on food shopping, and quite frankly, the last few years, FB Hubby has been doing the majority of the food shopping. But food is a large expense in our home like many others and I have recently taken on the task of food shopping. My usual shopping location near me is Stop and Shop. It’s not always my favorite grocery store, but it is convenient and they have what I think is one of the greatest inventions ever, the self-scanner. The scanner allows you to shop for your food while you go (similar to a wedding registry scanner) and pay in the self-check out lane when you are done. This shopping experience requires more time; however, it also saves a lot of money. And as I mentioned in a previous post, we work hard for our money so we should make it difficult to spend it.

Last week, I was on a mission to buy a number of items, and I was shocked by the results of my trip. One of the first things I had to buy was plum tomatoes. Of course the store was out, so I just grabbed some other tomatoes. I weighed them and noticed they cost $5. I am not a shopping pro, but I thought this seemed rather high for tomatoes, so I tried another brand of tomato, and this took my cost down to $2. I experienced something similar when looking at apples. It was amazing the total cost difference between two types and no one in my house is that picky, so I went with the cheaper apple and saved another $3. I then moved on to the meats. I needed to buy ground beef for taco night and FB Hubby told me to get 85/15. As a food shopping novice, I didn’t know what this meant, but I knew what to look for. I went to scan the 85/15, but accidentally picked up an 80/20 and noticed that it was half the cost of the 85/15. For 5% more fat that I am going to drain anyway, I decided to save the money and buy the 80/20, which led to another $4 saved.

Self-Scanners are awesome for saving money

A great feature of the self-scanner is the running tally it shows you while you are food shopping. On this particular trip, I had a number of “needs” and then a number of “wants” that I could have purchased. However, as I was nearing the end of my trip, I noticed that my shopping total was approaching my weekly budget for groceries, and I decided to hold off on some of those “wants” that I had not added to the cart. I proceeded directly to the check out and realized between the meats, produce and a few dry goods along the way, I had saved $15 while shopping!!! How exciting is that?!

If your store has self-scanners, I highly recommend using them. Not only does it make you more mindful of your charges along the way, but also it makes it harder for you to spend your money while food shopping and groceries are one of the largest expenses in a household. It takes more time and focus to use the self-scanner, but it is time well spent when it means more money in your pocket!  If your store does not have the self-scanner, then I challenge you to be more “mindful” of your shopping. Try to refrain from haphazardly putting things in your cart without weighing the true value or comparing with alternative options. Taking the time to be mindful while food shopping is an easy way to save money and prevent wasteful spending.