Saturday, December 15, 2012

5 First Steps

One thing so often lamented by individuals who do not understand their finances is, "I just don't know where to start!". Fear not, lamenting individuals, here are the easy 5 First Steps you should immediately take to begin your financial journey!  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Potential 2013 Finance-Impacting, Tax Changes

I would be willing to go out on a limb and wager that you're sick of hearing about the "fiscal cliff." Don't worry, I am too. Washington politics often seem to not serve a purpose outside of making our lives, and reading the news, miserable. Cynicism aside, there are some important changes potentially coming for 2013 that will have a noticeable impact on your daily financial routine and paycheck.

Many times, changes to the tax code do not have much impact on the average person's day-to-day life. They don't notice a small percentage increase or decrease. It's not at all surprising when someone is suddenly sticker-shocked by a tax change because rarely do people care much (That's why they have a CPA! *Hint* *Wink* #Shamelessplug)

Saturday, December 1, 2012



Can you help me define discipline? What is the literal meaning? What does it actually mean to you?

Discipline will be the foundation of your successes in life. Dedicating yourself to a job, relationship, or idea allows you to engage that thing or person with the best of your abilities. Discipline provides you with the greatest chance for success. Often, the most successful people, the ones we idolize, are the most disciplined. If I asked you who the greatest investor of all time is, chances are you'd respond with Warren Buffett. If I asked who the best basketball player is, you might tell me LeBron James. Two completely different individuals, yet very successful in their ways. Both have shown extreme levels of discipline - making sound decisions or practicing non-stop.

Why should your financial endeavors be any different? Why should you not institute discipline into your personal finance life? Trick questions. They shouldn't and you definitely should (There's a reason that many lottery winners end up broke! They have no discipline! But that's for another post). If you expect to learn discipline as your financial situation improves or you begin making more money, it'll be too late. Discipline forms habits. Habits are what help you make wise choices and are what keep you on track for your goals. Speaking of goals, have you defined any personal finance goals for yourself yet? Have you begun tracking your spending and saving? I know some of you have. But I guarantee others haven't. If you haven't, why not? 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Love Spreadsheets

Please forgive me. For those who were counting, semi-monthly came and went a long time ago. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. I promise I’ll make it up. After all, it was your loss for me not writing.

Last time I wrote, I begged that you begin to become aware of your financial surroundings.  If you’d like to re-read it, I’ve posted it here. It might be worth swinging through again. How did you answer those questions? Feel free to email some of your answers. Remember, no judging from this guy.

If you didn’t answer those questions, at least attempt this one: What are your goals? Personal finance is structured around setting and achieving goals, both short term and a long ways down the road. If you don’t have a defined goal (or goals, even better), you’re just wandering around lost. So set some goals. (Also, accomplishing things and checking them off your list feels great. I dare you to try it)

I guarantee that some of you already figured where I’m going first – budgeting and tracking your expenses. It’s step numero uno. You cannot become aware of your financial position and habits without tracking them. It doesn't matter if you are in school and making next to nothing, eating PB&J's nightly or working for The Man and paying Uncle Sam. Track what you make, track what you spend.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Beginning

Well, here goes nothing. I’ll be honest – I’m not entirely sure where this thing is going to go, but I’m excited to find out. I’m a little nervous too. Maybe that’s just me placing undue expectations upon myself. Or maybe that’s because I’m writing to you all. You can be a tough crowd and have been known to eat people alive. I digress. Oh, and sorry for the length of this first one. Others won’t be as bad…

It’s only fair that I briefly touch on my goals and motivations for starting this newsletter. Over the last few years, I’ve become increasingly aware about how little people actually know about personal finance. I’ve got the facts to prove it. I want to change that. I want to offer you my knowledge and energies to potentially make a difference in your life. I want you to take away things that, if implemented and done properly, could greatly benefit you. I’m not saying you’ll be wealthy beyond your imagination, but you’ll be able to make critical financial decisions with a degree of confidence. I want to inspire you and give practical knowledge you can directly benefit from (a lot of times I can quantify it too – an accountant’s dream!).

I don’t claim absolute expertise in this area. But I do know a great deal. As time goes, you can decide for yourselves and judge me accordingly. Currently, however, I beg for benefit of the doubt. And now for my disclaimer: I am a personal finance and investing nerd. I hold an active CPA license in Minnesota. I’ve been investing since high school. I’ve given multiple lectures at college during my time there and since graduating. I closely follow the world of finance, both from a broad economic and personal perspective. I’ve sat down with many friends to discuss their issues and situations. However, I am NOT a Certified Financial Planner or Registered Investment Advisor. I can explain what I would do and why in situations, but I cannot tell you what to do, for obvious legal reasons (well, you could sue me). Thanks for understanding :-)