Living in H.I.Diff

A few weeks ago I joined Toastmasters. For your own entertainment I’m sharing with you my first speech, my icebreaker speech. It’s meant as a get to know me type speech. I hope you enjoy.

icebergTo break into this little iceberg, known as Remy, let’s start foundational. Every good house has a solid foundation, and I’m no exception. The three things that build my foundation are happiness, indepedency, and being different. In our world of creating acronyms (or acronymization, it’s a word I didn’t make up this time), we we call it H.I.Diff. You see your TV in HiDef, you can see Remy in H.I.Diff.


Happiness – I’m an annoyingly optimistic person, but not irrationally so. Strange balance here. Being happy is what you personally make of it. It’s not what your family, your spouse, or stuff you have (crammed in your garage). It’s your personal perception of the world. Your family, friends, and maybe some of that stuff Crammed in your garage help enhance your happiness. But ultimately you are in control of your happiness. For over 20 years my daddy has lived in Asheboro and my momma has lived in Asheville. Every week my dad drives 2.5-3hours to see my mom for the weekend and drives back to teach English at RCC. My dad is in Asheville every school break to spend with my mom. This has kept my parents happy for over 20 years. They aren’t divorced or separated, this is just how they keep their marriage happy. Growing up their were few fights that I can remember. Seeing this as the norm, my own happiness magnifier is in Toronto. I don’t get to see him every weekend, but he’s my happiness. I get to focus on growing my business, he gets to focus on expanding his culinary wisdom. We don’t have to talk about the mundane daily tasks, we get to talk about planning the next trip or the occasional big frustration or the big wins. It’s our untraditional happiness. We’ve been together 6 years, doing this for 2 years.

RosieTheRiveterWeCanDoItA good reason I can keep up the long haul distance is due to my independence. Previously it could be considered extreme independence. This was independence that started as a hormonal teen, this independence started in the womb. I was due on Halloween. That schedule did not work for me, I needed to be fashionably late. I decided my big entrance would be December 2nd. Yep, a month. I do what I want. Between ages of 1 & 2 in those crawling not yet fully walking stages I easily figure out how to help my daddy cook while he was out of the kitchen. I would push the chair to the gas stove and start turning knobs like daddy did. Silly parents just didn’t understand I could do it my self and wanted to hold me back. They hung up the chairs above my head and beyond the reach of my little arm. No worries, I knew they were hiding the stairs in the walls on the sides of the stove. I will just pull out the stairs, adults like to call them drawers, and work on the sides of the gas stove. No more knobs for the stairs. Luckily for my parents’ sanity I was a age to go to the daycare and that quickly came a big option. By age 5 I realize the road to real independence is a car. Every few months until age 12 I asked when I could learn to drive. Age 15/16 CLEARLY is just a recommended age. I’m Remy, that is clearly not written for me. They caved at age 12 because my mom was doing the reverse drive and was extremely sick. If I knew how to drive I would have at least driven the rest of the way home. I was responsible and tall enough to pass for 16.

Though many of these stories can already illustrate the ways I’m different. For me it’s all about perspective. The norm for me can be seen as really strange for someone else. Maybe you are the someone else. To have something that is different you have to have a historical or agreed upon “normal” that is the base line. Something can only be different when you compare it to something else. Different can be good, different can be bad. But remember the first thing I said, your happiness is ultimately up to you. Every situation is different but the average for me different is good. I don’t want to be Center of attention, but I also don’t want to be lost in the herd. Some people might say I’m off beat and I tell them they’re listening to the wrong song.

Apple - think different

I consciously do things a little differently than many people you may know. It helps me stand out from the herd. Let’s me keep my independence so that I can live my happiness.
I hope you can find your drum beat that beats a little bit differently so that you can find your ultimate happiness.
You’re welcome to come live H.I.Diff with me.
Thank You. :)

Tech Tuesday – Business Essential Basics

This one is for the n00bs of the smartphone world. No worries on the n00b title, we were all n00bs at one point or another.

For Business Noobs here are the essentials you should download:


1) Dropbox – access to files on most devices including your PC, Mac, android, apple devices where it is installed and files are saved in your Dropbox file.
If you don’t have one, sign up here (copy/paste into browser):


2) Evernote – write notes on the go and have access to them online or from anywhere you are signed in.

3) Adobe Reader – open PDF attachments.

4) LinkedIn – you’re a business professional and you need to make sure you connect online with the business professionals that you meet.

5) Google Maps – google has been mapping for years now and I’m sure you’ve spotted one of their cars by now. Easy to use, reliable and always updating. Gives you traffic information in the form of green yellow or red lines over commonly used roads and highways. Use Apple maps when business isn’t on the line.

Building Your Financial House – Building Your Bedroom

You’ve started building your Financial House, starting with a solid foundation after I painted your financial picture, and you’ve got the right material with your knowledge (the bricks not straw), now it’s time to build some rooms. The rooms of your Financial House are your goals in life. It’s arguable what room you would think of first to build depending on your lifestyle, but your bedroom should be all about you and is the place where you (typically) start your day.

If you have a family, you know how often your home transitions. The living room turns into the kids play area, the office turns into a kid’s bedroom. Your bedroom does dual duty as bedroom/office. Closets become half baths. Your home will constantly be evolving, but even if you turn your bedroom into a bedroom/office, it will still be your fort and you won’t be getting rid of the bed. For this reason, I see the bedroom as your goal of a home. A home can be a house, an apartment, a condo, a townhouse, something that you live in and is your responsibility to pay. Homeownership is lots of responsibility and isn’t for everyone, but for arguments’ sake, let’s say that your goal is getting a house. Here is the financial process to get your there.

We always have to start with the basics. Even if you “know” you have a good foundation, you must get in the practice of reviewing your foundation to make sure there are no termites. Are your debts paid down? If you have debt, how much total debt do you have and is it better to pay that off first before looking at houses? How is your emergency fund? If you’re considering purchasing a house, you want to also look at increasing the emergency fund due to the many unexpected expenses (AKA required expenses) houses can obtain. Water heaters going out, roof leaks, A/C out, etc. Having the emergency fund already funded to the level that is needed to purchase a house will help greatly while looking for a house. I’d also like to point out that the Emergency Fund, is for EMERGENCIES, not for a down payment on the house. There are compromises out there, but compromising your emergency fund means you compromised your foundation for your entire financial plan, and when dealing with purchasing a house should be a big “No-No.”

Now that you’ve taken the time to check your foundation, made some adjustments (saving more in your emergency fund possibly) you’re ready to get an action plan in place for getting your house. I know when people really want to get a house they think of all the things they want it to have. 3 bed, 2 bath, nice kitchen, must have gas stove, etc. Before you get into your laundry list of “must have demands” let’s look at it at it’s most basic points. You need to take inventory for your bedroom. Who will be living there (husband, kids, etc) and how much can you afford. How much you can afford has gotten many people in trouble in the past, so let’s not get you into that kind of trouble. How much does your household (you and your spouse) make combined? Let’s say it’s $80,000. As much as you’re trying to keep up with the Kardashians, realize that they’re on the verge of bankruptcy behind closed doors, so you want to live within about 60%-70% of your income (the rest is savings for the fun stuff). That leaves you $48000-$56000 to live by for bills, mortgage, food, gas, etc. Once you’ve done a detailed analysis on your current expenses, make adjustments if you were to purchase a house. If your goal is to have a mortgage payment that is about the same as you pay in rent, realize there are many new expenses such as HOA fees, increased electricity bill, gardening expenses (you have to cut the lawn now), etc. Now you need to factor that into your monthly budget. You pay $850/mo in rent and utilities now, but once you add in extra house expenses it may total $1150/mo. That’s an extra $3600 you spend a year that you don’t now. So instead of aiming for a mortgage payment of $850/mo, aim for a housing expense of $850/mo. This will wrap your housing expenses together. Your mortgage may be $650/mo and all your added expenses bring it up to $850/mo.

You now have an idea of how much money you want to spend per month on your house, now it’s time to shop around on a deal for the mortgage. You’ve got to furnish your bedroom with the bed and curtains and dressers, and you want the best deal possible. If you’ve stuck with your financial plan for a few years, you should have built up some good credit. If you’ve stuck with your financial plan for MANY years, you may have saved up enough money to buy your house in cash (CRAZY!). For those that have stuck with their financial plan for a few years and built up a good down payment on a house but need to finance the rest, it’s time to go shopping for the best deal. This is going to take time and effort. The best is to get a low fixed rate mortgage, if possible for 15 years or less. As helpful as the internet is, all the answers don’t always hide there. Great for research, but person to person in these type matters is much more important. Once you’ve done your research, take a day out of your schedule to visit with as many of the banks you found that had good fixed rates and talk to them in person. Ask as many questions as you need to make sure you understand every point of how they deal with mortgages. If you don’t understand, do not do anything. Figure out the payment schedule, how much the mortgage would be and think about it. Don’t sign anything, go home and think about it over night. As exciting as finding a new house is, it crumbles the moment you realize you got screwed.

Congratulations you were approved for a fantastic loan of $500,000! DO NOT LOOK FOR A $500,000 home! Stay with your budget that you just figured out. Do not get glossy-eyed at the thought of a “dream” home. The Kardashians did that and are secretly going bankrupt. You are more mature and balanced than that and are more than happy to stay within/under your means. You have a great fixed rate and you know your range to keep within your budget, now it’s time to look at houses within that budget. Yes, now look. If you look before you’re going to set yourself up for failure looking at “dream” houses and many houses you think are in your price range, but really are not. A Realtor is exceptionally helpful to help you find the right place because let’s face it, you’ve got a job, your spouse has a job, and you’re crazy busy. Think of the Realtor as the interior decorator/carpenter you hired to create your bedroom. You give them the budget and they stay within it with your vision in mind. Spending your little free time trying to find a house is going to drain you, no matter how excited your are. Realtors have the inside scoop and have their ear to the ground, plus when you’ve done it for many years it’s second nature to you. You’re fantastic at your job, they’re fantastic at theirs because they’ve honed their skills. Make sure your budget is very clear and if you’re going to compromise, compromise your “must-have” list for the house, not your finances. The right house is out there, it will take time, so don’t give up. Once you have found your house and a great offer has been accepted, make sure to understand all the terms and conditions as well as all the fine print. You wouldn’t hire a carpenter to fix up your bedroom, give them a budget, only to find out there was an added finishing fee for finishing the job. The tricks are in the fine print, so make sure to understand them before signing anything.

Congratulations on your first room of your financial house! As tiring as it may have been to plan and have it built, it was well worth the time and effort!


Building Your Financial House – From Bricks Not Straw

On my previous post, the metaphor of building a great financial plan is like building a house, starting with a solid foundation. This post is to expand on the topic and help you understand that the kind of knowledge you have about finances is the material you will use to build your successful house.

Is your house made of Straw or Bricks?

Remember the story of the 3 little pigs? Each made their houses with different material, straw, wood, or brick. I hope we all learned the valuable lesson of building with the strong, reliable brick to make sure our wellbeing is safe. When you’re building your financial house, your knowledge & the knowledge at your disposal is the material you’re going to build your house with.

Blair is a successful doctor. She’s highly paid for what she does, not only from the hospital she works at, but also from the many speaking engagements given to multiple universities around the country. She’s single, with no kids and spends most of her free time (the little she has) out with friends. She has dreams of retiring one day up in the mountains to be near the outdoors and hiking. She saves some money here and there in a bank’s money market account, but she typically buys whatever she wants, whenever she wants because in her eyes she has disposable income from her jobs. When retirement creeps up on her she takes a look at her “retirement” fund at 60 (5 years before she wants to retire). She realizes that the savings plan she created for retirement 30 years ago has barely done anything for her, and most of money has gone to frivolous whims such as cars, houses, multiple vacations throughout the years. Now with retirement 5 years away, her dream house of retirement has crumbled. Her limited knowledge created her house of dreams from straw.

Gary is a technology guru. He works at IBM in research & development making a good living. At home, he has a wife and 2 kids in elementary school. He enjoys travelling the country to other offices to show off what he has developed. He wants to fund his children’s education and wants to retire comfortably with his wife in 30 years. He talks to his bank about how to fund his children’s education first since that’s the first goal that will pop up. The bank sets up a college fund from their line of services and does not discuss Gary’s retirement goal, because he never mentioned it. When his both his girls graduate from college finally (they decided to get their masters) he goes back to take a look at his retirement that is coming up in 10 years. Even with his pension plan from work and the emergency fund he has been saving his entire life, the bank tell him he’s going to have to work until he is 70 to retire at the level he wants to with his wife. He had some resources available and used how he saw fit, he created his house of dreams from wood. Steadier than straw, but can’t stand up to too much pressure.

Carrie is an executive assistant. She works at a prestigious law firm and is typically called on to train the new assistants as well as the junior associates because she’s that good and has been there for so long. Her family has taught her to budget her entire life and she lives well below her “means” compared to other families her size. She has a husband that is a teacher and 2 kids that are in middle school. She has a savings account and separate accounts set aside for her kids college and their own retirement fund. When she first started dating her husband (20 years ago it seems now) they had some rough times, but always seemed to manage to get themselves out. Before they walked down the aisle, a friend of theirs thought it would be a good idea to just go to a financial advisor to help them get a plan in place so they would stop cycling through tough times. She appreciated the thought, and went to be polite (she is from the south), to see if it would help at all. After a year working with the financial advisor, her and her husband (now) could see small habits changing for the better and wealth being created. When the time came to buy a house, they made sure to consult their financial advisor, not only on what they can “afford” but what was in their best interest based off the other goals they talked about. A few years ago, their beloved car “Rick” died and even though they wanted to fix it because it was like family, their financial advisor showed the impact of repairing compared to buying a different car. Luckily, the way they were saving, they were set up to pay for a quality used car and not effect their financial goal of college for the boys and retirement for themselves. Carrie & her husband had created their house of dreams from bricks, and are ready for their financial goals to come to fruition.

Food for Thought

Blair is very bright and focused, going through that much school to become a doctor, you have to be. Just because she’s good at medicine, doesn’t mean she’s good with money. She focuses most of her time on her job and social life. All work and no play can beat you down. She would most definitely benefit to have someone to call and ask how to efficiently save her money and fund her dreams. She is a very bright individual, she’s just ignorant on what’s available at her disposal to help fund her dreams.

Gary knew he needed help and he went where he knew they dealt with money and was comfortable with them. The one thing he didn’t realize is that banks can be more or less self service. You tell them what you want and they deliver what is available on their menu. They may try to “up size” you by getting you to put in more money than you can afford, but they’re limited to whatever services they offer at the bank. Gary would benefit from having someone look at the grand picture, not just a very small piece of the giant puzzle as well as look at all available options out there, not limiting him to 1 bank.

Carrie was wary at first because it was something she was not use to. Being slightly nudged helped her get into the right mindset though and really helped her and her husband achieve all the goals they wanted. Of course their financial plan changed throughout the years to adjust for their life such as their 2 boys, but a good financial plan is flexible. The best part is they have a great relationship with the planner and can call for advice on anything money related.

In Conclusion

Whether you’re a doctor or an executive assistant, your money should be working hard for you so you can build your own house of dreams. Having the knowledge or access to the knowledge is key to making your house of dreams strong. It’s your decision to take the time to obtain the knowledge yourself, or find someone that has the knowledge to give you, but whatever you do – get the knowledge! Don’t build your house of dreams from straw, build it from bricks.


Painting Your Financial Picture

While sitting here on my work computer, it hit me like a brick to the head. People need to understand the importance of their financial foundation, but me saying it a million times isn’t going to do much. How can I get the point across where people can understand and have their “Ah ha!” moment.

Let me paint a picture for you:

Your financial plan for life is like building a house and the most important part of the house is the foundation. If you have a weak foundation, or if you have issues with your foundation, your entire house is going to collapse. All those rooms of goals & dreams you have will collapse with it.

A good financial plan foundation is the money you live by. You want to see what your current situation is with income, bills, savings and any debts such as credit cards or loans. Then you want to take a look at what protections do you have for yourself to make sure you can consistently pay the bills. What emergency fund do you have in place for the short term and for the long term what kind of insurance do you have? Most people don’t realize that their most important asset is their income and that there is disability insurance out there to help keep the cash flow coming when you become disabled to help pay the bills.

The biggest dangers I’ve seen that corrupt a good foundation are debts, lack of disability insurance, and an insufficient emergency savings plan. Of the 3 the biggest monster in the room can be debt. Here’s the thing about debt, it’s like a bug. Some bugs are good such as spiders, and some are bad such as termites. And as strange as it might sound, some debt is “good” debt when you’re thinking about your credit score. Too much debt or the wrong kind of debt is really bad for your foundation. Credit cards can be convenient but not keeping them inline makes it a huge issue for now and down the road. They’re your termites, slowly, quietly eating away at your foundation. Disability insurance is an easy one to fix by purchasing it like home insurance (typically a different agent though). Emergency savings plan is dependent upon different aspects of your life. Based off your income and expenses as well as what insurance you currently have will dictate how big it is and for what length of time is it set aside for.

Once your foundation is set you can start building your house of dreams. Each goal creates a room and as you build your home you’re going to find that you’re going to be changing priorities and goals around like you would in any home. Your plan will constantly be changing to your life, but once all is said and done you’ll be leaving a great legacy for your family or charity that you want to leave it to.



Financial Sidenote: Understanding “Investing”

As I sit down with clients and prospects I always ask them “What is your experience with your finances?” As straight-forward and awkward as it may seem, it’s a pretty loaded question. Some immediately think of budgeting, balancing the some times delicate act of paycheck and bills, and saving. For my younger clients, it has been “I don’t really know, that’s why I’m talking to you.” For those more experienced clients with “investment” experience, they talk about past advisors and what they were told. I say “investments” because I’ve seen some strange things called “investments.” If you give a person money and don’t understand how the “investment” works, it’s not an “investment” it can be a scam.

I would like to just discuss risk tolerance and outline some common investments.

Risk Tolerance
Investing is a roller coaster ride and your risk tolerance is your willingness to get on different roller coasters.

Higher Risk tolerances means you’re ready for big ups and downs and want that adrenaline at the end of the ride. You like riding Drop Zone or the Hulk. You risk big in hopes of higher rewards. The good thing about high risk/high return is the possible high return, just don’t forget there are a lot of valleys in the way, and if you can handle some dips throughout your time frame the pay off can be big. If you have a higher risk tolerance you’re more aggressive. Just remember that if you are an aggressive investor that you need to have plenty of time to recoup the money if there is a dip before you need it. Young people saving little bits for retirement now typically can be more aggressive now for retirement, because they have time to recoup.

The lower the risk tolerance the more likely you’re going to go on the Dr. Seuss ride (which is still awesome by the way). You don’t want ups and downs you want a steady ride. You’re more conservative. What you lack in dips and peaks you make up for in steady returns, typically small. If you have a small time frame, you want to be more conservative, because you have little to no time to make up the difference.

For those that are in the middle, you’re moderate. Maybe more of a Spiderman ride, with some twist and turns but not as much up and down motion. Some aggressive investors will go moderate on shorter term investing because they can’t really commit to being conservative and some conservative investors may invest moderately because they have a longer time frame but can’t commit to being aggressive.

Whatever your tolerance, you should discuss all investing options with a professional to validate your thought process as well as the options available to you given your situation.

Now on to Investments
Easy stuff: Stocks & Bonds
Stocks – I’m sure you’ve at least seen the S&P 500 channel surfing. A stock is an ownership of the company. What many people don’t realize is that the S&P 500 is a second hand market meaning the stocks traded are not coming directly from that company, but from another entity or person. The price rise and decrease doesn’t increase or decrease the company’s bottom line because they sold more higher priced stock. Most stocks are held not by individuals but investment companies to put in their products such as mutual funds (discussed later). The ups and downs are very volatile depending on many factors. As nice as it would be to have a formula to predict how it trends, it is impossible because of too many uncontrollable factors (war, weather, politics, etc).

Bonds – You don’t own the company but the company/government OWES you money, you’re the debtor. Bonds are rated on an alphabetical scale from Aaa/AAA being the best to Ba/BB+ & below to be “non-investment” grade, meaning (surprise!) you don’t really want to invest with those. Government bonds are rated on the same scale and are Aaa/AAA. There are no guarantees in investing, but government bonds have the lowest risk tolerance out there.

Step up your game: Mutual Funds
Mutual funds are a package of domestic stocks, international stocks, corporate & government bonds, cash, and other assets (such as gold). Individual mutual funds have an investment approach and a fund manager. The investment approach tells you what the fund’s goal is and how it invests. It’s the fund manager’s job to make sure what he/she picks is in alignment with that approach. For example, if you have a Science & Tech fund, the manager will invest in companies that are developing more technology (like Apple, Google, etc.) and the sciences (like new uses for corn) but would not likely invest in paper. Each fund tries to maximize its return on investment, but that doesn’t mean every mutual fund will get a 12% return. Many funds will get 3-5% because their investment approach is more conservative.The nice thing about mutual funds is that it, in itself, is typically diverse. Diversity helps you control the risk. For every higher risk investment you can have an equal and opposite lower risk investment. The mutual fund manager typically will control how risky the fund is based on the investment approach. If you’re investing in government bonds it will be conservative. If you’re investing in science and technology it is more aggressive.

To some people I understand this is common knowledge, to others though I hope I have shed some light on a few things for you. If you talk to a financial person, whether it’s at your bank or at an investment office, make sure they can explain to you completely and understandably what you’re investing in. If they can’t, find someone who can. I’m always open to answer any questions you might have.

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Financial Side Note: S&P is the Best Roller Coaster EVER!

Unless you don’t have a TV & don’t get on the internet (in which case I’m not sure how you’re reading this), you can’t help but notice the S&P’s roller coaster ride the past few weeks.

Being in the industry I’d have to say 50% of the people I know asked my blood pressure and stress levels recently. I’m thankful I have such good people around me that are concerned with my health, but I calmly explain the following:

Initially, it can be shocking when you see such numbers in HUGE BRIGHT RED CAPITALIZED font, but what you have to realize is

1) that is what the stock market does. There are time when it goes up, down, WAY up, WAAY down, but it’s part of the stock market. If I had a sensitive system, I shouldn’t be in the field.

2) Wait it out. If you have securities in the market now, talk with your financial planner about the optimal time to sell; if you HAVE to. If you’re investments are for long term goals, just change the channel to reduce your blood pressure.

3) It’s a buyer’s market. This is when smart individuals capitalize on an under valued stock. People are freaking out so much they’re throwing the baby out with the bath water. Smart people know how to catch that baby.

4) I’ve already preemptively sent emails to my clients explaining what’s going on before I have to field their calls. Keeping your clients in the loop is key to low blood pressure in this business.

5) The reason I’m in this job is keep the fires at a minimum, teach out what I know, and keep a cool, collected head when fires do come up.

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Black Friday – A Cautionary Tale

Who’s going out in the crazy lines this Friday for some CrAzY savings? I’m down for a good deal and saving money everyday of the week/month/year but within some boundaries. Make sure before you go out to spend lots of money on those holiday gifts review a few of these thoughts:

1) Use the money you’ve saved for holiday presents – Ideally, you want to have a set amount of money already saved up to spend on that day/weekend. This is your budget that you don’t want to go over. If you don’t have some kind of budget or goal in mind you’re going to start spending like crazy. People like to focus on the amount they are saving, whether that’s in dollar signs or percentages off and then rarely notice how much they are actually spending. Don’t fall into the “I saved XXXX, how could I say no?” trap.

2) Create a budget – If you don’t already have your holiday budget saved up, make sure to set a budget for what you want to spend. Remember that all those sales that you put on your credit card will quickly accumulate interest fees. The less you can put on the credit card the better. Just because you saved 50% on the tag price, doesn’t mean that you’ll be paying only 50% of the tag price when you factor in the interest rate you have to pay for throughout this coming year.








3) Figure out what’s important to you – A lot of stores are not only opening at midnight Friday morning but even Thanksgiving day. Depending on how often you see your family and what you do this may be the only time each year to spend time with them. Is saving money on a TV from Santa more important than spending time your family members? Don’t just think of the short term importance of spending time with the family, but what are your long term goals. If you want to go on that vacation next year or invest in your kids’ college fund, is going out to save money this weekend going to help save for that goal? If it’s not helping you achieve your goals, is it worth going out?



4) Set the right example – If you enjoy going shopping and like to make it a family affair, what example are you creating? Do you vocalize your limits and expectations? Are you the one where if you see it, you love, you buy it, you charge it, and pay for it later? If you make shopping a family affair, make sure to set boundaries and communicate them regularly before, during and after the shopping. Communicating the expectations so often will help land good habits in everyone’s mind. Don’t just charge it to the card, if you have kids it’s hard for them to wrap their head around money they don’t see. The more expectations you create around money for your kids, the easier it can create a healthy financial lifestyle for not only your kids but yourself.


Though everyone likes to save money, make sure not to get wrapped up on how much you’re saving but focus on what you’re spending.  Make sure to balance your wants/needs and what your overall life goals are.

If you have a Black Friday success story I would love to hear it. Please comment below if you have stories of self control, great deals that helped you achieve your goals, or setting the right expectations for your family.


Financial Landscaper



Spending $5 to Put into Your Savings Account INSTEAD of Starbucks Coffee…

I would like to thank Chris Salzer for this WONDERFUL blog post idea.

From Facebook:

“How much money would I have for retirement if I didn’t spend $5 a day at starbucks for my entire working career?…”

GREAT Question! Love it!

Ok coffee fend (I’m guilty too at times, not going to lie), your financial savvy friend points out you can save A LOT of money if you “spend” that money on your savings account instead of the Starbucks coffee so often. Well I’m glad that’s got you thinking about what that number could be.



The answer could be A LOT of money if you consider a few things:

1) You’re spending $5 EVERY day of the year on Starbucks or local coffee shop, etc. 365 days a year. So you put a $5 bill in a jar in your bedroom for 365 days a year then deposit into a savings/investment account.

2) Your working career lasts 30 years (at least)

3) Your savings/investment account is a high interest account, we are assuming at least 4%.

4) Calculation is based upon compounding annual interest rate.

5) This is JUST AN EXAMPLE as interest rates change often so actual numbers may vary depending on reality. This is for ILLUSTRATION purposes only to understand the concept. Every investment has its own risk, so please chat with a professional before considering where to put your money. Thanks.

(I used this handy dandy excel calculator so that you can check my work and play with it yourself if you would like)

$5/day for 30 years (I’m not including leap years for simplification purposes here):

Overall investment ($5 x 365 days x 30 years) + your initial yearly deposit of $1825 = $56575

Compounding 4% interest over those 30 years the balance could be = $108,274

What’s even BETTER is instead of waiting to deposit the money once a year is to do it on a monthly basis. The first year you save $1825 in a money jar in your room to help get you in the right habit of saving and open a savings account. Now you put $152 into your account every month for 30 years. You invested the same amount of money for the same period of time, but instead of $108,274.21 you’ve got $111,542.64. An Extra $3268 just for depositing it monthly instead of annually.

Now that I KNOW you’ve glazed over the past few paragraphs let’s simplify this so it’s easy to look at:

Deposit Annually Deposit Monthly Total Invested 4% APR Annual Deposits 30Year Total 4% APR Monthly Deposits 30Year Total Annual VS Monthly Deposits Difference













The HARD part of this will be reality. It’s hard to say no to tasty temptations and decide to save, but no worries. It CAN be done! Maybe it’ll be babysteps at first. Cutting down to every other day, then once a week, then once a month, then not really needing it all.

What do you think? Do you think you can save $5/day for 30 years? I KNOW you can.

Until next time!

Financial Landscaper

The Power of “No”

The very root to many monetary issues small and large can typically be found to be from one simple little word, or the LACK of one simple word. “No”

Whether it’s choosing to say “No” or avoiding saying “No” is your issue, you’re not alone. It can be for many different reasons. Typically it’s not a conscience decision to avoid saying “No,” it’s an emotional decision.

Let’s take a moment to review some typical scenarios to think about where to say “No” but maybe choose not to.



Whether it’s your parents, kids, brother, sister or best friend, it can be very hard say no to your family and friends. Let’s think about a kid wanting to go out to the movies for the weekend. He tells his parents that he wants to go out for the weekend. The parent hand him $50 and tells him to have fun. As the parent, you failed to say “no,” so what does that me for you? Well, you’re $50 poorer for one. Next you haven’t set perimeters and now you’ve set your kids up for just asking and they shall receive. The more often this type of situation happens, the harder it will be to stop. On the flip side of this same example, what if you were the kid, what do you get out of this? Yes, you may be $50 richer, but at what cost? What does this teach you about the real world? Not much. The real world will not just say “yes” to your every desire so it’s really setting real life expectations up incorrectly and setting you up for future failure.

Think of this same example when it comes to friends and family that constantly ask for money. It can be the friend that always gets himself in trouble and needs to be bailed out all the time or the brother/sister that always leans on you to get them out of a financial jam.

Even if you don’t have friends that are constantly asking directly for money, many can still drain your resources in a different way. Do you like to go and “hang out” at the bar or go out to movies on a constant basis? Being social is completely healthy and needed for a happy life, but it does not necessarily mean it should require to you spend money constantly to keep everyone happy. Let’s say for fun you go out every weekend. The bar scene Friday nights, the club on Saturday, and maybe dinner & a movie. If you think of just the basic cost of that 1 weekend it can easily be in the hundreds, $100-$300 PER weekend. You have 4 of those in a month and it’s $400-$1200 any given month. You can still be a socialite on the weekends, but finding a way to cut costs and being mindful of what you spend. If you save what you would have spent, you’re well on your way to saving a useful emergency fund.


This happens in a few ways. Spending, not tracking your spending, not saving, and putting it on credit without paying it off monthly. Think about these typical situations:

You work hard and “deserve” that night out or Starbucks on the way to work. Here you neglect to say no to spending. You’re also probably not tracking your spending which is just as important, I mean it’s a couple bucks, what’s the big deal? It can at times be ok to spend on yourself, but if you’re not tracking what you’re spending, how do you know what is ok to spend? Also many times these habits aren’t just 1 timers, they happen on a consistent basis and quickly can drain your resources.  A few bucks here and there quickly add up and you’re spending more than you know it on coffee, drinks, and overpriced nights out.

On the flip side of spending  with what you have is spending what you don’t have AND not saving. If you’re driving through those windows and charging on your Visa, Mastercard, etc and not paying off the balance each month you’re walking on a tight rope. If you’re having to use your credit cards to pay for daily expenses you will be wasting money on interest rates. Also, when an emergency hits, those credit cards will more than likely get maxed out quickly.


Working Hard: Saying “No”

I know it may seem silly to instruct people on how to say “no” but it can really get you to think. In the first example when it comes to family it’s about setting clear boundaries and expectations. At first it might be hard to tell your family no, and it can feel awkward to set expectations for your family but it can be the easiest. If you think about it, they love you and want the best for you, so if you can set the expectation by explaining WHY you are doing what your doing in terms of yourself AND them, they should be understand. From this example think about it like this: “I know you want to go out with your friends, so that you can earn the money you need to go out I need you to do x, y, z first.” You didn’t say no, you set the expectation that they need to earn the money they want to spend… Just like real life. Imagine that. After a few different instances just like this, instead of asking for money, they’ll ask what they need to do to be paid.


The harder example is telling your friends no. Setting expectations can feel a little awkward and unnatural. Though many friends can be like family, it can be strange to “set expectations” with your friends when it comes to cutting back on social events out. You don’t want to seem like you’re in financial troubles and you want to show that you can “keep up” with their own social activities. First, you don’t know their financial status and they may be trying to keep up with you so this can be an endless logic cycle. If you take the first step, you can actually be helping them cut back too if you think about it. Keep it real and honest and find alternatives that are cheaper. If you have to go out to the bar scene, you can buy the special, or choose water. I’m not a drinker myself so it makes my life cheaper. Cut back on movies to 1 a month if you go every weekend. Try movie nights at home and have a pot luck so everyone can enjoy reasonably priced food and not overpriced candy and popcorn. (Don’t you love it when you’re saving money AND becoming healthier, or at least the opportunity to become healthier)


Now comes the hardest person to stick with “No” – Yourself. It’s easy to tell yourself “no” because you understand the reasoning. However, sticking to it is much harder. Temptations happen everyday. It can be something that seems tiny like picking up a quick bite in the drive thru to save time. It could be something larger like getting a new car or going on a shopping spree because you got a bonus check. When you’re responsible for yourself it can be hard to tell yourself no. You work hard and deserve some bonus time to yourself, so why can’t you splurge on something little for yourself? The trouble that gets you in is consistently splurging on the “little” things. Those little instances add up quickly. It will take some training and a good support structure from friends and family but if you set goals for yourself, such as a vacation fund or Christmas fund, it will be easier to see the big picture and say “no” to the little stuff . Make sure you have short, mid, and long term range goals. When you’re out and about think about what is going to get you to those goals.  If it doesn’t contribute to that Caribbean vacation or Christmas fund for the kids, is it worth spending the money? Personally I know I can skip those run through the drive through if the alternative is sitting in the sun on a gorgeous beach.

The power of saying “no” is created when expectations are set appropriately for anyone that has any passing sway of your finances. Setting expectations can be hard, but not impossible. Family and true friends will understand why you are setting the expectations and might use you as a role model.

When setting expectations try:

1) Don’t give them specific numbers, just tangible reasons and goals. “Hey, I’m trying to save up for the Caribean. I’m going to hold off going out for a while”

2) Find alternative that everyone can agree upon. “Why don’t we just hang out at my house and grab a redbox movie?”

3) Communicate what’s in it for them. They could be learning from you as role model, but I wouldn’t say it like that. They can save money too so they might be able to come to that Caribean vacation with you. Vacations can be much more fun when you have friends with you. “It would be great if you could come with us. Why don’t we plan on going together? It would be way more epic if we were both partying at the island”

So what are your thoughts? I know you have the power to say no, so what is your story?