Creating a Realistic Spending Plan: Take the 7-Day Challenge

Many of my clients are looking for ways to stretch their dollars. Yet many times they aren’t sure where their money goes each month. If you’re ready to develop a spending plan or workable budget that works for you, join me in this 7-day challenge as we kick off 2011.

Bankrate.com is one of my favorite sites to visit for money-saving and budget saving tips. Adding a twist to their 7-day challenge here are my 4 easy steps to creating a spending plan that fits your lifestyle.

Step 1: One Week’s Expenses. Figure out how much cash you need to cover seven day’s worth of expenses. Include gas, groceries, entertainment, gifts, everything! The point here is to figure out what and where you’re spending your hard-earned money.

Step 2: Be Honest. Don’t deliberately overestimate. The purpose of the challenge is to calculate what you really need. Include your partner in the challenge so you can work together as a team. Then, withdraw the amount of cash based upon your honest estimate of what you’ll need during the next 7 days.

Step 3: Put Cards Away. Now that you have the money needed for the week, put your debit and credit cards away. Yes, take them out of your wallet! It will help keep you honest throughout the challenge. As you make purchases, keep the receipts to help jog your memory at the end of the day. These receipts will come in handy when you’re ready to create a spending plan or budget that is based in your reality.

Step 4: Tell Me How You Did. It’s not about winning, but learning about your money style and spending habits. What did you notice during the week? Did you run out of cash, and need to withdraw more? Let me know how you did and the observations you made. As a reward, I’ll send you some info about the various styles relating to the psychology of money.

When you know where your money is going, then you can find ways to save money that fit with your spending habits and ultimately lead to more money in your savings account. Armed with strategies that fit your lifestyle, you can develop habits that support your short- and long-term financial goals.

To get a free template to track your 7-day challenge expenses, email me at Alison@fiscallyfit.us or call (650) 965-4090.

Staying in Touch & Engaging Aging Parents

It’s hard to imagine that the holiday season ended a month ago. By now most of us have recovered from the excitement (or drama) including family dinners or out-of-town guests.  If you’re one of the millions of Boomers with aging parents, you may have noticed some changes during your last holiday visit. Did you notice any changes in memory or a general decline in their health?  Are they are having difficulty living on their own?

Like many of my clients, my father lives out of state.  He’s a spry and social 82-year old with a home computer and girlfriend!  During one of my last visits I set him up with Skype so he can stay in touch with me.   Some of my friends were skeptical that he would actually embrace this technology.  Once I showed him how we could make video calls for free and that he was in control of the camera (lest he not be dressed for guests), he was open to the idea.  Now it provides us an easy way to stay connected and I can literally see how he’s doing.

While I primarily help with managing financial-related details of everyday living, I also help with a variety of services for seniors and aging adults.  Many of my senior clients don’t have family nearby, and using video tools like Skype helps them stay connected as well as serving two key purposes:

  1. Use It Or Lose It.  Studies have proven that keeping seniors active – both physically and mentally – helps fight against depression and memory-related issues.  Whether playing bingo at the local community center, or doing Soduku and crossword puzzles at home, seniors need to find ways to stay sharp and connected.  There are also brain gyms popping up around the country.  Designed to help young minds learn better, they also help adults fight the effects of aging.  Check out this NY Times article about a recent study where seniors volunteered in a Baltimore elementary school.
  2. See Dramatic Changes.  As our parents age, changes in their ability to take care of themselves may begin to appear.  While phone calls are great, it doesn’t take the place of seeing them.  In between face-to-face visits, you can keep tabs on how they are doing – noticing any weight loss or changes in hygiene – that may alert you that they need additional support or medical attention.

If you are caring for aging parents you may feel overwhelmed by all the facets of care they need.  Over the next three blog posts, we’ll share the top 10 signs a senior needs assistance. If you need immediate help or want to know about the services we provide to seniors, send an email to Alison@fiscallyfit.us or call 650-965-4090.