Category Archives: Finance

Preparing for new year ambitions

December marks the joyous excitement leading up to Christmas, which is swiftly followed by New Year’s celebrations. If you are like 58% of the American population, then you have probably already started planning your resolutions for the new year. goalsAlmost 6 out of 10 people start off with the best of intentions to make significant differences in their lives over the following 12 months, but 80% of these have already failed by February.

The majority of resolutions involve health (healthier eating, losing weight, exercising more), money (saving money, spending less money, paying off debt), and spending more time with your friends and family.  Being more productive, and kicking other habits that you no longer want are also common goals that people set for themselves. With this in mind we wanted to take a look at some of the best apps out there that can help you to achieve your goals:

  1. Mint – A really great tool which is an aggregator that allows you to create and mintmaintain a comprehensive family budget. You have visibility of all of your household’s income and expenses, and can easily collaborate with other members of your family.
  2. Personal Capital – Similar to Mint, Personal Capital is a platform where you can track all of your finances. There are many standard capabilities such as calculating your net worth, monitoring debt, and tracking financial goals. Personal Capital has some great capabilities when it comes to planning for retirement through its Retirement Planner. This platform analyzes your investment portfolio (IRA’s, 401k, investment accounts, 529 funds) and provides feedback about your progress, stock allocations, and management fees.
  3. FitBit – Samsung Health, Google Fit, all of these are great fitness trackers which will allow you to set and monitor health trends such as heart rate, distance, steps, weight, and quality of sleep. Many health insurance companies have discounts and rewards available for customers who meet specified fitness goals within these platforms.fitbit.png
  4. Castbox/ Stitcher – One way to kill two birds with one stone is to listen to podcasts while you are exercising. This is a great way to take on new information while your mind is clear, and is also a great way to take your mind off of the stresses of your life.
  5. Blinklist – Many people set out with the goal of reading more books over the coming 12 months. There are some great tools out there that can make this habit much reading tableteasier than it has been in the past. E-readers such as Kindle and Nook provide you with the material you need, wherever you may be. You can buy new books, rent them from your local library, or even share them with friends. For those who are keen to broaden their knowledge, but are put off by the length of time required, there is a solution. Blinklist is a simple tool which provides you with book summaries that allow you to “read” books in just a fraction of the time it typically takes.
  6. Map My Run – This is one of the most popular fitness apps on the market, and it’s easy to see why. This program has a very simple user interface and is super simple to use. They have a goals section where you can set things such as the targeted number of runs per week, monthly miles, days run per week, or total miles over the course of the year. One of the most common goals is to complete 1000 miles within a calendar year.
  7. Ramsey Solutions – This is a platform of knowledge that is likely to be able to ramseyprovide you with valuable information to help you in areas where you need support. Dave Ramsey of The Total Money Makeover fame, started this company with purely financial advice. Since then, the program has developed opportunities for people to learn more about retirement, spending time with family, starting a new business, or making a career change.
  8. Local support groups – As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. If you are struggling with something that is really holding you back and you are looking for support, please connect with a local support group. This can be done through a simple Google search, can be recommended by your Doctor, and are often supported by community centers such as churches, fire stations, and fitness centers.

What are your resolutions for 2018, and what are some creative ways in which you are planning on keeping on track? We would love to hear your ideas, as well as be made aware of some excellent apps that can make such a huge difference in the pursuit of success. Until next time, stay focused, and Expect The Exceptional in everything that you do.



Get started on your financial goals

As the new year approaches, it is easy to say to ourselves, “Next year is going to be different.  I’m going to be thin, rich, and much, much happier.”  Inevitably, next year will be quite similar to this year unless you put your mind to making a big change.   But what if you committed yourself to a small change?  Something that is easy to attain?  What if you made a small change in your finances that would help you reap big rewards down the road?

In this segment, I have compiled a list of finance-related tips for 2017 from a number of websites (all of which are linked).  There are so many tips out there, so I have found the ones that I feel are doable and will actually make a difference for a wide range of people.  I hope this helps get you on track for your financial goals in the coming year!

  1. Make saving automatic – it’s easy to say that you will put aside a portion of each paycheck, but when the time comes around, there are bills to pay and things you want that always seem much more important than saving for later.  But many banks offer an automatic deposit into your savings account.  Speak with a banker to find out what options are available to you, and figure out how much you can actually afford to save.  At the end of the year, you may be surprised at how much you’ve accumulated!
  2. Track your spending – an effective dieting strategy is writing down every bite of food you put into your mouth, and assessing where you are going wrong at the end of the day.  This is the same idea – write down every single penny you spend, then take a look to see where you could save.  You may even opt out of purchasing something unnecessary because you don’t want to put it on paper!  This diary will come in very handy when you are setting your new and improved monthly budget.

    Expenses Costs Track Spending Sticky Notes 3d Illustration

  3. Focus on your debt – no matter which financial strategy you follow, you won’t find one that tells you to get into more debt (unless your financial planner also works for your credit card company).  Debt is bad . And it creates more debt.  And while you may see getting out of it as impossible, take whatever steps necessary to accomplish that goal.  As your debts lessen, so do your monthly expenses.  Which leaves you more money to pay your debts.  Seems simple enough, right?  It isn’t.  But it can be done, so set your mind to it and make a change this year!
  4. Review your insurance coverage –  when you set up your health insurance, you might have been in family planning mode.  Now that you’re out of that phase, you might not need as much coverage.  Check it out and see if you could be saving money each month.
  5. Shop around for deals and discounts – it is certainly easier to buy everything at one place, but if you do your homework you might be able to save quite a bit of money by shopping at multiple locations.  Take advantage of sites like Ebates that offer cash back on purchases, but don’t get married to those sites.  Do the math and figure out which deal is actually best, when you take into consideration shipping, tax and rebates.
  6. Grocery shop online when possible – everyone has the best of intentions when they make a list to take to the store.  If we’re really intent on sticking to it, we make sure to eat first and set a shopping time limit.  But unless you are the most disciplined person in the world, chances are you will run across something you just have to have, or you “forgot” to add to your list.  When you shop online, you can type the items you need into the search bar, find the best deal and add to your cart.  There is little chance of purchasing items you don’t need, as you won’t be passing them at every turn.  Many places offer this now, and will even deliver for free if you spend a certain amount.
  7. Reflect on 2016 – how did things go this year?  Were you able to save money, pay off debts, or overcome obstacles?  Did you spend too much, not save enough or make major financial mistakes?  Looking at what went on last year can help you to make improvements for the year to come.  Correct any mistakes you made, and look to improve upon your successes.

I hope these tips will help you to leap into 2017 on the right foot, confident in yourself and your ability to make changes where needed!  Even a small step in the right direction is an improvement, so don’t be disheartened if you aren’t a millionaire by 2018.  As long as you are doing your best, you’re doing something right!