3 Traits for Maintaining a Successful Budget

Creating a budget is a big step on the path to a better financial life. However, maintaining your budget is even more important. Even if you start with good intentions, over time it is possible to get off track if you don’t know what you are doing.

To ensure your success, here are three traits that will help you stay the course:

1. Motivation. Are you motivated to do the right thing in regards to your money? Do you realize that things will happen, good and bad, over time that will impact your situation?

No matter what happens, you must stay motivated. If you continue to push yourself, one day after the next, you will eventually reach your financial goals. When this happens, the excitement you feel will be enough to keep you motivated well into the future.

2. A positive approach. If you go into the budgeting process with a bad attitude you are never going to reach your goals. Instead, it is likely that you will find yourself giving up sooner rather than later.

You may face challenges here and there. You may realize that you have to put additional time into your budget. As bad as things may get, keep a positive attitude. This will help to push you along, allowing you to maintain your budget.

3. Be realistic. For many people, unrealistic expectations derail them before they ever have the chance to succeed. There is nothing wrong with expecting big things from your budget, but you have to remain realistic when setting goals. If you don’t, you will only become discouraged.

Tip: make a list of multiple short term goals, all of which are attainable. This will help you realize what a realistic goal looks like, allowing you to better plan for the future.

When you have these traits, it becomes much easier to maintain a successful budget. Soon enough, you will look back and wonder why you faced so much trouble in the past.


Why it is Important to Find a Financial Planner Today

Source: Michael Solari is a certified financial planner and principal owner of Solari Financial Planning. From personal financial planning to college funding advice to estate planning, he knows it all.

While some people understand the importance of finding a local financial planner they can trust, others continually overlook this and hope for the best.

You are not required to hire a financial planner, but those who have found somebody they trust almost always feel better about their finances over the long haul.

Like many, you may be struggling with the process of locating a financial planner in your area. You need help and are willing to take advice, but you don’t want to trust your time, money, and future to just anyone.

To put your mind at ease, one of the best things you can do is search solely for certified financial planners in your area. This goes a long way in separating the pretenders from the professionals who can truly help.

The Process of Getting Started

Before we get into some of the finer details with Solari, let’s take a closer look at what the process of getting started entails.

On the Solari Financial Planning website, the basic process of getting started with a financial planner is outlined. Here are the steps:

  • Initial inquiry
  • Meet to get acquainted with one another
  • Data gathering
  • Set short and long term goals
  • Analyze and create a plan for the future
  • Review your personal financial plan
  • Implementation

While this process is not going to be exactly the same from one financial planner to the next, this is the basic outline of what you can expect along the way.

Hiring a Financial Planner

Now that we have all that out of the way, here are some of the questions I asked Solari, complete with his detailed answers:

1. What are the primary benefits of working with a financial planner?

The primary benefit of working with a financial planner is having someone guide you toward your financial goals. Whether the goal is to get out of debt, prepare for retirement, fund college for your children or whatever the goal may be, a financial planner should help you identify your goals, organize them, create a custom plan and help implement. It can very often be too much for an individual to grasp all the concepts and much easier to hire a professional. Once you have a game plan in place it is important to check in with your financial planner to make sure everything is on track because life changes very fast for most people which can affect their goals.

2. What are the most common mistakes people have made before hooking up with you?

I usually see 2 mistakes. The first, many people wait too late. This is particularly true with people approaching retirement. They have waited too long to save for their retirement and now have to face tough choices. If you start saving early, it can make a world of a difference in the long run. The second mistake is people not implementing the advice they receive. A survey done last year by TIAA-CREF, stated that only 1/3 of the respondents said they took action after receiving advice (https://www.tiaa-cref.org/public/pdf/TIAA-CREFAdviceSurveyExecutiveSummary.pdf). Advice seekers who do not follow through on a plan may never achieve their goals.

3. How do you suggest people find a financial planner in their area that they can trust?

There is a lot of noise in the financial services industry. It is only going to get louder as more and more baby boomers start to retire. To help filter out this noise, I first would make sure that my financial planner has their CFP(R) designation. This means they are dedicated to the profession by having passed a rigorous examination, experience and continuing education. The second criteria would be to make sure that my financial planner is “fee-only.” A fee-only financial planner works differently than a “fee-based” or “commissioned” advisor. A fee-only financial planner is paid solely by their clients. They have made a commitment to act in their client’s best interest by not accepting compensation from 3rd parties like commissions on insurance or investment products (fee-based and commissioned advisors do receive compensation from 3rd parties). Fee-only financial planning firms come in all shapes and sizes but you can search for one near you on napfa.org or garrettplanningnetwork.com. Many advisors will sit down with you for free to make sure it is a good fit for both parties.

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t matter if you are currently working with a financial planner, have never considered this, or are in the process of finding a local professional, this advice will definitely point you in the right direction.

Even if you don’t meet with a financial planner in the near future, you should now have the confidence to make an informed decision when/if you decide to do so.


5 Common Car Salesman Lies

Buying a car is a big decision for many reasons. Not only is this the vehicle that will get you around, but it will have some sort of impact on your finances. For this reason, you never want to make a decision until you are 100 percent comfortable with exactly what you are getting.

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done because some car sales people don’t have your best interest in mind. Instead, they want nothing more than to make a deal, even if it means you are unhappy in the end.

Here are five common lies that you need to be aware of:

1. The car is waiting for you. There is nothing worse than hearing this over the phone or via email, just to arrive at the dealer and find that the vehicle is missing. The old “bait and switch” has been around for many years, and if you fall prey it could end up costing you a lot of money.

2. We will give you more than any other dealer for your trade. This is a common tactic to get you into the dealership. Furthermore, some sales people will try to lump together the price of the vehicle and what you are getting for your trade. Fight against this, making sure you are fully aware of both sides of the transaction.

3. There is no room to negotiate. Even if you are told that a price is as low as it goes, don’t fall for this. No car dealer wants you to leave the lot, unless it is in one of their vehicles, of course. The opportunity to negotiate is very real. As long as both sides are reasonable and respectful, there is a good chance of reaching a mutually agreeable number.

4. We can secure the lowest interest rate for you. If you are financing and you believe this to be true, it could cost you thousands of dollars over the term of your loan. It is important to remember that dealerships will receive a commission from the bank for pushing you into a higher rate than what is offered.

5. The car will sell by the time you make your way back. This is a ploy to keep you on the lot until you make a purchase. You should never believe this trick. If a car does happen to sell after you walk away, you can always find another deal at another dealer. Don’t let this type of pressure wear you down.

Now that you are aware of these common car salesman lies, you have a better chance of securing a deal that is perfect for both you and your finances.


Top Reasons to Choose a Community Bank

With the popularity of online banking, a growing number of people are turning away from community banks and setting their sights on national institutions. While there is nothing wrong with considering this idea, you don’t want to make a change until you thoroughly compare the pros and cons of both options.

Here are three of the top reasons to shun national banks for one in your local community:

1. Higher level of customer service. This may not always be the case, but most people agree that they get better service from a local bank than one that is doing business from one side of the country to the next.

Here is something else to consider: you can visit a local branch if you want to speak with somebody in person. This is not always an option when you bank with a national brand.

2. Support the local economy. There is nothing more important than putting your money to work to grow your local economy, especially with the way things have gone over the past decade.

Small businesses, such as community banks, are in position to create many local jobs. Along with this, local companies can turn to these financial institutions for financing. As a result, those companies are also able to boost the local economy through new hires and increased profits.

Big banks don’t typically care about local communities. Big banks spend a small amount of time and money on small businesses.

If you want to support your local economy, choose a community bank.

3. Community banks share your goals. Think about it this way: when the economy thrives in a particular area so do the banks. For this reason, it is safe to assume that they share many of your same goals for your community. Can the same be said about bigger, national banks that focus most their time and attention on Wall Street and multi-billion dollar corporations?

Regardless of why you are in search of a bank, consider all your options. Even though it is important to do what is best for you and your money, make sure you consider the benefits of choosing a community bank.