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Featured Blog : DON’T CONFUSE ME WITH THE FACTS: INFORMATION AVOIDANCE

 

As a young girl my daughter once told me, “Dad, your reality is not my reality.” While at the time I thought it was a cute quip, many years later I am still learning the depth of truth it contains.

One recent reminder is a study published in the Journal of Economic Literature by Russell Golman, David Hagmann, and George Loewenstein of Carnegie Mellon University. Their research found that “information avoidance” is one of the leading reasons people often have widely varying views of what seem like inarguable facts.

Take the issue of well-being, which includes our financial, physical, and emotional health. There is no lack of pertinent data, research, and information available to us that could enhance our well-being. Almost anything we would want to know about making sound financial decisions, maximizing our physical health, improving our relationships, and living a fulfilled life is available with a Google search.

Why, then, would 75% of Americans have to borrow or sell something to raise $1,000 cash? Why are two-thirds of Americans overweight? Why do millions suffer from depression?

According to a March 10, 2017, article at ScienceDaily.com about the Carnegie Mellon study, people make use of very little of the information available to them. In fact, we deliberately avoid information that would enhance our well-being. Why? Because we perceive that information which conflicts with our beliefs or perception of reality will actually threaten what happiness and well-being we perceive we have. It’s reminiscent of the line, “Please don’t confuse me with the facts.”

Loewenstein maintains that if we view things logically, “. . . people should seek out information that will aid in decision making, should never actively avoid information, and should dispassionately update their views when they encounter new valid information. But people often avoid information that could help them to make better decisions if they think the information might be painful to receive.”

For example, take one component of financial well-being, becoming financially independent by age 65. If people want to believe they are on track to accomplish this, but fear having to make restrictive and painful adjustments to their current lifestyle if they are not, they may be reluctant to even contact a financial professional to find out the true state of their finances. Instead, we will often grasp at questionable beliefs like, “I will just continue to work in retirement,” even though the evidence shows that only 21% of people are able to work after age 65.

Even when some people find information that conflicts with their tightly held beliefs, they often ignore the information by discounting the source or motivations. “You can’t believe everything you read,” is a common way we discount conflicting information.

Information avoidance can not only harm our individual well-being, it also plays a part in harming our societal well-being. Says Hagmann, “An implication of information avoidance is that we do not engage effectively with those who disagree with us.” Avoiding both people and information that don’t align with our biases is one driver of the political polarization currently splitting the U.S.

He goes on to say, “Bombarding people with information that challenges their cherished beliefs—the usual strategy that people employ in attempts at persuasion—is more likely to engender defensive avoidance than receptive processing.”

My years of experience with clients certainly supports the futility of trying to help people change their financial behavior by telling them what they “should” know or do. Instead, it is far more useful to listen to their beliefs, fears, and goals, and to suggest options and offer encouragement to help them discover their own paths toward financial well-being.

The above blog is by Rick Kahler originally published in Rick Kahler’s Blog – Financial Awakenings.


About the author: Rick Kahler, Certified Financial Planner™, MS, ChFC, CCIM, is president & founder of Kahler Financial Group and co-founder of the Healing Money Issues Workshop. To know more about him, visit his blog: http://www.financialawakenings.com/

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Featured Blog : WHAT NOT TO DO IN A LONG BULL MARKET

Editor’s Note : This blog is very relevant in the context of BSE Sensex hitting 30,000 yesterday. Please do watch/read this interesting post by Rick Kahler. Many insights on what we need to do as an Investor when the markets ‘seem’ to hit a high or ‘low’.

March 9, 2017, was the eighth birthday of the bull market in the US S&P 500. In its lifetime it gained 314.4%, an average annual return of 19.4%. This raises a question as to how much longer it will last.

An article posted on MarketWatch.com, “Seven Signs We’re Near a Market Top and What to Do Now” gives some interesting perspective on what to look for to answer that question.

1. Small investors begin pouring money into stock mutual funds out of fear they might miss out on another year of growth.
2. Surveys of professional money managers show a declining number who are anticipating an imminent bear market, while more of them think the bull market will continue for a little longer.
3. The VIX market index, which is a barometer of traders’ expectation of near-term volatility (always present with a bear market), signals calm ahead.
4. There are record price/earnings ratios, which means buyers are bidding up the price of stocks faster than earnings are rising.
5. Investors have started to forget the pain of the last bear market and are becoming more complacent and optimistic.
6. The Nasdaq index begins a bull run.
7. Greed begins to outweigh fear, as investors start fearing missing out on further market gains instead of fearing future market losses.

Even to a casual observer, many of these signs look evident in the equity markets.

I’ve spoken with investors who have been on the sidelines but are thinking it’s time to get into the stock market, given its double-digit returns over the past 12 months along with the Trump rally. This is usually a reliable sign that markets are nearing a top as this new money drives the market to dizzying new highs.

When a market top looks inevitable—and we know the market will fall—what should investors do to protect their capital from being eroded away by a bear market? Selling out your stocks and moving the money to cash is always an option, but not a very good one. How do we really know this is the top and that the market won’t continue to go higher? Often the most profitable and exciting part of a bull market is the frothy run-up just before the fall.

Even more problematic, if you do get out in time to miss the crash, how will you know when it’s time to get back in? The most common answer I am given by investors to that question is, “When the economy looks good again.” That’s similar to a deer hunter saying he will load his gun when he sees a deer. By the time the economy looks good, the run-up in stocks is usually nearing its end.

The best course of action is to fasten your seatbelt and get ready for some terrifying turbulence. Most bear markets drop quickly and recover quickly. Investors who get out usually do so near the bottom and completely miss the inevitable recovery. All bear markets have ended with a new bull market, although the bottom is not identified as such, but rather seen as a pause before another certain downturn.

One more thing. Don’t feel that missing when to get out and when to get back in would make you inadequate. The majority of those who attempt to time the market for a living will miss it, too. That MarketWatch.com article that listed the seven signs of a market top? It advised investors to start edging out of the markets as soon as possible because red flags were everywhere. And it was published in March 2014—three years ago.

The above blog is by Rick Kahler originally published in Rick Kahler’s Blog – Financial Awakenings.


About the author: Rick Kahler, Certified Financial Planner™, MS, ChFC, CCIM, is president & founder of Kahler Financial Group and co-founder of the Healing Money Issues Workshop. To know more about him, visit his blog: http://www.financialawakenings.com/

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Featured Blog: Budgeting For Self-Care / Budgeting As Self-Care

“Stop asking your life and your body to do things for you and begin to do some things for your life and body.”
~David Drost, Evolation Yoga“Buffalo Magazine” February 5, 2017

This is the perfect beginning of a post about how budgeting (money, time and energy) can support our self-care efforts, and how taking care of ourselves can help us budget (our money, time and energy) more effectively.
Our beloved support group met February 4th to discuss well-being; “Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.” Here are the highlights:

  • Q. What is wisdom?
  • A. Something that comes with age, but you’re never “done,” you’re always improving, learning how to react/respond to life, to know when to let go of things, relationships and thoughts that no longer serve you.
  • Learn to be comfortable not knowing even while you are seeking your own truth.

 

  • Q.When have you felt “wise?”
  • A. When you care less about what other people think and have the confidence to make the right decisions for you, to pay attention to what makes you come alive and be filled with passion.

 

  • Q. What aspects of your life contribute to your health & well-being?
  • A. Spending time with loved ones, sleeping, nourishing yourself with good food, art, beauty, music, literature, nature.

 

  • Q. How can you incorporate more of this into your life?
  • A. Be more intentional with your time and your relationships including your relationship with money, be proactive rather than living on autopilot.  Learn to set limits and nurture healthy boundaries.

 

  • Q. What aspects of your life are an obstacle to health and well-being?
  • A. Social media can help us get and stay connected (which contribute to well-being) but it undoubtedly is a diversion!
  • A. Work
  • A. Negative self-talk
  • Q. What can be done about the obstacles?
  • A. Set limits.
  • A. Claim some time, schedule it in your calendar, phone, Microsoft Outlook etc. Go for a walk, exercise, get some fresh air, get out in nature; it’ll remind you of the fact that there is a purpose for and an order to all of life.

 

  • Q. What is one way you could use your time more intentionally to promote your health & wealth?
  • A. Set a timer with the parts of your life that you want to limit.
  • A. See above about claiming time for the things that matter to you. If you don’t make time for it, it must not be a priority!

 

  • Q. What is one way you could use your money more intentionally to promote your health & wealth?
  • A. Buy healthy, organic foods.
  • A. Decide if you’re using your gym membership or if a scheduled walk a few times per week or a yoga class is more achievable and enjoyable.
  • A. Create personal financial policy statement.

 

  • Q. What is one way you could use your energy (attention, thoughts, activity) more intentionally to promote your health & wealth?
  • A. Do one small task, create one small change of habit to foster other changes (such as brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand).
  • A. Be in the now, practice mindfulness.
  • A. Do a vision board or book, focus on what is good in life that you would welcome more of in your life.

See, you’re not alone, not at all! We all are doing the best we can, with the resources we have, with the time we’re allotted. Be kind to yourself and share that kindness with others.

If you’d like more than just a blog post to improve your financial well-being, contact me to schedule an appointment.

Rainbow


About Amy Jo Lauber:

I help people who are overwhelmed take control & make good financial decisions with confidence and experience peace and abundance. Are you ready to say goodbye to working hard but not having anything to show for it? Go to http://www.lauberfinancialplanning.com “Let’s Talk” tab to schedule your complimentary initial consultation and take the first step on the path to financial empowerment.

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Featured Blog: Sometimes, Spending Brings a Bigger Return Than Saving

 

Life experiences give you an incalculable return on investment. Every. Single. Time. So why is it so hard for us to spend money on them?

The reason for me is often that experiences tend to feel like an extravagant expenditure of money, time and energy. Let me give you an example.

My wife and I had a chance to leave our kids at home for a few days and go on a sea kayaking trip. The trip we planned was in an unbelievably beautiful part of the world. It would be the first time in over six months that we could do something without the kids.

Sounds amazing, right? But then I started adding numbers. It would be $250 for the kayak rental, then a few hundred for food. And the little inn where we wanted to stay was expensive. Before long, our invaluable trip had a tangible value, in the neighborhood of $1,000.

For three days? No way!

I spent a few days thinking (O.K., worrying) about this expense. Was it responsible? Did we have the money? If we invested that $1,000 for 20 years and earned 7.5 percent, it would grow to more than $4,200.

Eventually, we chose to go. And, predictably enough, it took all of seven minutes on the water on the first day before I thought: “$1,000? For this? What an incredible value!”

Decisions, Decisions

The Sketch Guy, on why there’s not always an easy answer to the question of whether you should spend money now or save it.

Each time I try to do this kind of math, I always run into the same problem. Experiences are incalculable. Invaluable. Priceless. So no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get them to fit into my calculator. So good luck with your equation.

If you don’t have the money or aren’t certain you can pay any debt back quickly if you borrow a bit to do the thing, the decision may get easier. The solution to the equation is probably this: No.

If so, I feel for you, as I’ve been there myself and stayed there intermittently for years.

But once we got out there in the kayak on that crystal-clear water, all I could think about was how happy my wife and I were as we were enjoying that experience together. So, ask me now, was it worth it? Let me just save you a lot of time and energy, and give you the answer to that messy equation: Spend the money!

Do you have something you want to do with someone you love, and the money to pay for it, and the only reason you’re not doing it is that you have this nagging feeling that you should be saving the money for some vague goal beyond the basic ones you have already articulated for yourself? Spend the money! Then, do it again. And again. And the next time? Spend the money!

Did I mention spend the money?

If it feels as if I’m trying to drill this message into your brain, it’s because I am. After all, what else is the money there for? O.K., for when you get sick, for when you get old, for when your kids need some financial help. I know. For a million good reasons.

But you already have every “real” financial adviser and financial pornography network under the sun telling you to save. Just think of that as one side of the coin: Save for tomorrow. I’m here to tell you not to forget about the other side: Spend for tomorrow.

Because it’s not just money you’re going to need in the distant future. You’re also going to need a lifetime of priceless memories and invaluable experiences to remind you what a great life you’ve lived.

I can promise you this: If you find yourself looking back one day, only to realize you have no such memories, you’ll be doing a very different calculation.

The above blog is by Carl Richards originally published in The New York Times’ Blog.


About the Author: Carl Richards, a certified financial planner, is the author of “The Behavior Gap” and “The One-Page Financial Plan.” His sketches and essays appear weekly in the New York Times.

 

 

 

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Featured Blog: How to Turn Your Wishes Into Reality Instead of Regrets

Reality or Regret_800

Last week, I shared how scared and worried I felt at the thought of losing my wife after her accident. As frightening as that experience was, it also helped me reflect and decide that I didn’t want any more regrets.

I thought you might feel the same way, so I asked for your deathbed wish list. What things would you wish you could have done if you suddenly had very little time left?

Your emails were amazing! They reminded me a lot of the many messages I received when I wrote about getting permission to make major changes in our lives.

I asked a few of you to create a visual version of your wish lists, and you can see them here.

No-Regrets Wish Lists

Submitted by Andrea Juhász

But I was left wondering: What’s next? What can we do to make sure that these wishes become reality instead of regrets?

For me, this process is pretty simple (but not easy):

1. Pick one thing on my list.

2. Decide today to do one thing that will get me closer to making that one thing a reality and further away from regret.

3. Do that one thing.

4. Repeat tomorrow.

5. Wake up in a year with fewer regrets.

The problem with this process is that it’s too simple. It lacks all the theatrics and drama of the hero’s journey.

In short, it sounds boring. Day after day, just doing small, little things.

I’m not into boring. The process reminds me of compound interest — that’s also boring, but it works.

However, I know of no other way. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Small, simple things done consistently over a long time produce meaningful results.

So, here is what I’m going to do. I’m finding one thing on my wish list, and I’m doing something about it today. Then, I’ll do it again tomorrow.

Will you join me?

The above blog is by Carl Richards originally published in The New York Times’ Blog.


Carl Richards, a certified financial planner, is the author of “The Behavior Gap” and “The One-Page Financial Plan.” His sketches and essays appear weekly in the New York Times.

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Featured Blog: The Wish List I Made After My Wife Almost Died

On your deathbed, it’s too late to make wish lists.

That’s the thought that went through my head high over the ocean, willing the plane to go faster as I rushed thousands of miles back to New Zealand to meet up with my gravely injured wife in the hospital near Christchurch.

Let me back up.

It was 4:30 in the morning in the holy city of Varanasi, India, when I got a strange message from my 15-year-old son, Sam. “Dad, give me a call as soon as you can.” I was up early to attend a religious festival, and I made the call.

The first thing Sam calmly said to me when he picked up the phone was, “Dad, don’t freak out, but mom’s been in an accident, and she’s in a helicopter being flown off the mountain.” The mountain, that is, that she had basically fallen off.

I spent the next two hours trying to get a sense of what exactly had happened. By this point, news had already traveled to people back home in Utah, and I was getting all kinds of worried messages from them. Imagine this for a minute: I was in India staring at the Ganges River, getting bits and pieces of information from friends and family in the United States, about my wife who was in a helicopter being flown off a big mountain to a hospital in New Zealand, where we are living for the year. You couldn’t pick three other points on the globe that were much farther apart. Disorienting doesn’t even begin to describe the experience.

Through some miracle of connecting flights just happening to match up perfectly and incredible customer service at Singapore Airlines, I could move my flight up a whole day. But even with everything falling into place, I was still looking at close to 24 hours of travel.

I talked to the search and rescue team who had taken my wife off the mountain just before my six-hour flight from India to Singapore. At that time, I was told my wife had a severe concussion, a collapsed lung and a broken back. I spent the five-hour layover in Singapore scrambling to gather more information. By the time I boarded my flight for New Zealand, I knew she was stable, but that’s about it.

Needless to say, I had a lot of time to think. And, as my mind drifted to the worst-case situation, the vast majority of the thoughts I had boiled down to regrets. I wish I had spent more time with her. I wish I had hugged her more. I wish we had gone for more hikes together. I wish …

In the end, despite the fractures in her back, hip and tailbone, she walked out of the hospital after only a few days and is on her way to a full recovery. But at the time, lost in my thoughts somewhere over the ocean, I had no idea what to expect.

Over the following weeks, as it became clear my wife was going to be O.K., my thoughts started to shift from the regrets I would have had at the end of her life to what regrets I might have at the end of my own. “I bet I’ll wish I spent more time with my family,” I thought. That I did more climbs in the Tetons. That I took more creative risks at work. That I had been more kind. I’ll wish I took more time to listen to, laugh with and hug my children.

So I made myself a little deathbed wish list. Why? Because on your deathbed, it’s too late. Similarly, waiting until a spouse is gone to share more hugs makes as much sense as waiting until your house is in cinders to buy a fire extinguisher.

What if instead of waiting for a near miss — or worse, an unspeakable tragedy — we simply started ticking off items on that wish list today?

Personally, I found the simple act of writing that list down to be super illuminating. Doing so helped me recalibrate my actions with my values and restructure the way I spend my time to make sure I make space for the simple but important things.

I’ve also found that sharing the list with others seems to be helpful. So, thanks for listening!

Now, can I return the favor? What’s on your wish list? What might you regret if you don’t do it soon? Please send me your thoughts to hello@behaviorgap.com and think of it as a first step toward doing now what you’ll wish you did later.

I promise to read them all.

The above blog is by Carl Richards originally published in The New York Times’ Blog.


About the Author : Carl Richards, a certified financial planner, is the author of “The Behavior Gap” and “The One-Page Financial Plan.” His sketches and essays appear weekly in the New York Times.

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An Organized Wallet is So Financially Wise. Here’s Why.

By now you know I’m a big believer in showing your money lots of love. Whether it’s signing receipts with a heart or picking up coins that you see on the ground, a positive, abundant money mindset will take you far on your financial journey.

And this week, I’m back with another #financiallywise tip that will help you honor and respect your money: Keep your wallet organized.

In this week’s video, I’m sharing why it’s so important to keep your cash, cards and change in order, and the way I do it in my own life.

Trust me when I tell you that it’s amazing the difference this can make in your money outlook. I When my clients take my advice and organize their wallets and stop throwing crumpled-up bills into the pockets, they tell me they feel so much better about opening their wallet–and even more grateful for the money they had inside it.

The above blog is by Brittney Castro originally published in Brittney Castro’s Blog – Financially Wise Women.

About the author: Brittney Castro, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ is the Founder and CEO of Financially Wise Women, a Los Angeles based financial planning firm for women. She specializes in working with busy professional and entrepreneurial women who are passionate about life and want to gain clarity around their money. Brittney’s mission is to help women plan and create the life of their dreams, free from anxiety about money. She is known for her non-judgmental, compassionate approach to financial planning. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Planning Magazine, Investment News, and Registered Rep Magazine. Away from the office, you can find Brittney working out, drinking green juice, reading, playing at the park with her dog Arya and of course dancing. Visit her at http://www.financiallywisewomen.com and request a FREE 30-minute Discovery Session to discuss how financial planning can help you use your money to live a life you love. Financially Wise Women is a registered investment adviser offering advisory services in the State of California and in other jurisdictions where exempted.

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Featured Blog: Free Time? Not Likely, for Time Is Anything but Free

How do you “spend” your time?

Because make no mistake, time is a currency. There is a cost to how you spend it. The cost might be a trade-off, like choosing one activity over another, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that this is a free exchange.

This is why I have never understood it when people ask, “How do you spend your free time?” Time isn’t free. As a valuable, nonrenewable resource, it’s actually quite expensive.

Setting the “free” part aside, it’s important to remember that having the option to think about how you spend your time is a luxury many people can’t afford. All their time is already spent. For some, time is allocated, from birth through the rest of their lives, to work and survival.

All of this leads to a simple reminder: Spend your time wisely.

The above blog is by Carl Richards originally published in The New York Times’ Blog.


About the author: For the last 15 years, Carl Richards has been writing and drawing about the relationship between emotion and money to help make investing easier for the average investor. His first book, “Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things With Money,” was published by Penguin/Portfolio in January 2012. Carl is the director of investor education at BAM Advisor Services. His sketches can be found at behaviorgap.com, and he also contributes to the New York Times Bucks Blog and Morningstar Advisor. You can now buy – “The Behavior Gap” by Carl Richard’s at AMAZON.

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Featured Blog: Written Goals an Effective Planning Tool

Putting goals in writing is similar to eating a healthy diet or following a budget. We know from reams of research that the results are vitally important to well-being. We know that, done correctly, these actions work to produce results. We know our lives would be better if we did them.

And despite all that knowledge, we don’t do them. Isn’t it interesting how our brains often work against us?

Writing out goals helps our brains work for us instead. Once goals are down on paper, there is little need to do anything else with them. It’s uncanny how the unconscious portion of the brain can retain them and move us toward accomplishing them.

One of the main reasons we don’t set goals is that the task of writing out or updating goals isn’t urgent. Our lives are filled with urgent tasks, like getting to places on time, providing meals, coping with household emergencies, and keeping up with our jobs. These, which some time management experts call “C” tasks, keep us so busy that we rarely set aside time to do the more important, non-urgent tasks. These are the “A” tasks like drawing a will, shopping for insurance, setting up a retirement account, and writing goals.

Another reason some of us resist setting goals is having had an experience of “been there, done that, and it didn’t work.” Many of us have set goals that simply did not come to pass. One possible reason for this lack of success is that we were trying to achieve unmeasurable goals. For example: “I will become a great parent.” “I will become financially independent.” “I will be a great boss.” “I will get into shape.”

These are not measurable. How do you know if you are a great parent? What is the measurement or the standard? The definition of a great parent is up to the subjective opinions of you and everyone else. There is no way to know if you are there. A goal like this, that doesn’t have a specific date for accomplishment and cannot be measured, is doomed to failure. No wonder so many of us have trouble keeping New Year’s resolutions; they often are unmeasurable goals.

Wanting to be a great parent is an intention, not a goal. Goals are actions that support intentions. For example, what are some of the signs of great parenting? One might be having good communication with your children. This is still another intention. What does good communication look like? Maybe it means doing something with them weekly, acquiring exquisite listening skills, or connecting with them daily via text or email. All of those are actionable goals that can have a specific date for accomplishment and a measurable action.

Some examples might be: “I will plan an activity to do with my child every Saturday afternoon, beginning February 1.” “I will have completed a Love and Logic workshop by May 1.” “By July 1, I will have formed a habit of texting my child once a day.”

These goals are specific and measurable. They can easily be tracked by putting them into a calendar or a reminder program like Alarmed.com on your smart phone, tablet, or desktop.

Creating measurable goals and writing them down is an effective tool. I know it works. For example, I once made a list of goals that included buying an SUV three years into the future, in January. I filed that goals sheet and forgot it until I came across it five years later. In my garage was a two-year-old SUV. Even without consciously remembering the goal, I had purchased it right on schedule.

The above blog is by Rick Kahler originally published in Rick Kahler’s Blog – Financial Awakenings.


About the author: Rick Kahler, Certified Financial Planner™, MS, ChFC, CCIM, is president & founder of Kahler Financial Group and co-founder of the Healing Money Issues Workshop. To know more about him, visit his blog: http://www.financialawakenings.com/

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Featured Blog: A Values-Based Way to Build Your Budget

Let’s be honest: budgeting sucks. There’s a reason everyone (including me) dreads sitting down and figuring out a budget. It brings to light all the things you spent money on that you probably shouldn’t have, and in the end you’ve got a list of super-responsible stuff to spend money on instead.

It’s the financial equivalent of eating your vegetables. Yuck.

But our philosophy at Gen Y Planning it to take the shame, fear, and guilt out of budgeting. If you want to spend money on dinners out, SoulCycle classes, or, hell, eyelash extensions (life changing!), do it! Money is a tool that allows us to live the life we want. If you squirrel it all away and never have any fun, you’re just not living.

They say that one of the ways to tell what’s most important to a person is to see what they spend their time on. So for 2017, I want you to try a values-based budgeting exercise: honor what’s important enough to you to spend money on. And be okay with that!

I wouldn’t be much of a financial planner if I didn’t sneak a few vegetables onto your plate (sorry) and tell you that, yes, it’s really important to save money for things like emergencies and retirement. And you can’t still do that while having money available for fun stuff. More on that in a bit.

First, here are some questions to ask yourself to determine what you really value.

What did you waste money on in 2016?

It could be impulse buys at fast fashion stores. Concert tickets for a musician you don’t like because you have FOMO and didn’t want to miss a night out with friends. Food you threw away because you didn’t eat it before it spoiled.

Anything you paid for that didn’t enhance your life is something you shouldn’t buy again in the future.

What are you proud of spending money on in 2016?

Maybe this was the year you finally hired a professional house cleaner, treated yourself to Amazon Prime, donated generously to a meaningful cause, took a sweet vacation, or saved up for a designer purse that you’ll use for years.

When I reviewed my 2016 spending, I learned that I was most pleased when I spent my money on experiences (like travel, concerts, and live theatre), and expenses that saved me time (Task Rabbit, house cleaning, and Instacart for grocery delivery).

If something brought you joy or freed up your time to do other things that matter to you, it was a worthwhile expense.

Adjust your spending to reflect your goals and values

It helps to be mindful of your spending without feeling shame. It you spent a lot in certain areas in 2016 (things like home decor or vet bills), those things are important to you, so save up for future spending in those areas (those vet bills aren’t going away anytime soon, after all!).

By committing to spending less on things that don’t matter and saying no to anything that isn’t important to you, you free up money that will fund what you love the most.

How can you do all this and not run out of money?

I’m a big fan of reverse budgeting. Often, people spend their take-home pay on bills first, then entertainment (things like shopping, restaurants, and travel). If there’s anything left, it goes into savings.

The problem is that it’s easy to overspend, leaving nothing left to save.

Try this: automatically transfer money out of every paycheck into your retirement and savings accounts. You can even set up multiple savings accounts that are earmarked toward different expenses (and have portions of your paycheck direct-deposited into each account — ask the payroll person at your office to help you with this!). By doing this, the money left over can be spent on bills first, and then you can spend the rest as you please, guilt-free.

Saving first and spending second allows you to meet long-term savings goals. If you’re saving for a house, car, wedding, grad school, vacation, or other large expense, you can do so more easily without noticing the hit to your wallet.

My wish for your 2017

My biggest hope for all my readers and clients is that you all make peace with your money and spend or save it according to your values. Not your parents’, not your friends’. Take the time to evaluate your spending so you can allocate funds to things that enhance your life, and stop spending mindlessly on things that don’t matter to you.

The above blog is by Sophia Bera originally published in her website Gen Y Planning.


Bera - Small HeadshotAbout Sophia Bera: Sophia Bera, CFP® is the Founder of Gen Y Planning and is a financial planner for Millennials. She’s passionate about helping people in their 20s and 30s across the with their money. She is a contributor for AOL’s Daily Finance website and has been quoted on various websites and publications including Forbes, Business Insider, Yahoo, Money Magazine, InvestmentNews, Financial Advisor magazine, and The Huffington Post. She was named one of the “Top Financial Advisors for Millennials” by the website: http://www.MoneyUnder30.com. Sophia is a sought after speaker and presenter and is an active member of the Financial Planning Association. In her free time, she enjoys performing as an actor/singer and traveling the world with her husband, Jake. Follow her on Twitter @sophiabera or sign up for the Gen Y Planning Newsletter to stay up to date on financial articles geared towards Millennials.