It’s happened – I forgot to write my Monday Money Motivator!!

I was getting out of the shower (it was late too!) and something made me think of it!

I normally go though my calendar every evening and schedule out the following day! I didn’t do it last night, as I smugly thought I was only going to be doing one project pretty much all day! Wrong!
So now in haste!

Aunty Acid       Christmas!
A very apt reminder of what is important, when we are all tearing around frantically shopping and getting stressed!
Make sure you look after you this week and take time to just be and breathe!!

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2215145_blogTwo weeks today ( here in NZ anyway!) we will probably have eaten or be eating our Christmas dinner and the shopping and hurly burly will be a distant memory….hopefully anyway!

Everything you read at the moment is reflecting on the life and death of Nelson Mandela. He was a wonderful man and one of my personal heroes. I remember having an interview at Bayer for a promotion sometime in the mid 80’s and being asked about someone I admired. I said Nelson Mandela. I was challenged on this because he was in prison and was often called a terrorist. (He was only taken off the US’s list of terrorists in 2008!) I’m not sure what my words were but I can remember my passion in delivering my defense of my choice!

I am a passionate rugby fan but my first ever protest march was in Christchurch in 1981, against the Springbok tour. I didn’t watch rugby at all for several years after that!

I am sad at his passing but very glad and grateful for his life and example. I cannot believe that I would have shown the same spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation if I had been imprisoned for 28 years!

Now  to the 12 shopping days left before Christmas! In my MMM of November 11, I gave you some tips about shopping for Christmas. If you haven’t finished your shopping, and I hope you have, relook at them.

This is a very stressful time and it is important to make plans for what you are going to buy and for whom and, of course, where and when! If you can, try and shop in the morning whilst you are freshest and the day is cooler. It tends to be less busy too. Also the earlier you shop on the 12 days the better. The closer to Christmas, the busier it is, the more tired and stressed you are and therefore more likely to spend more money just to be able to cross that person and gift off the list!

As always, I advise that you shop with cash. Debit or EFTpos cards are good alternative options. The reason for this is that you can only spend the money you have and have to stop when you run out! Not only do credit cards allow you to spend money that you don’t have, but research has shown, as I’ve mentioned before, that you spend 20% more when using a credit card as opposed to debit cards! If your spending plan allows for eg $400 for gifts and you spend 20% more, that is an extra $80. I’m sure, like me, there is a lot you would rather do with that $80.

Also try and keep yourself in the moment ie concentrate on what you are doing rather than thinking about all the other things that are on your list to do. It is safer. Yesterday, I wasn’t doing that and was crossing the road when cars started tooting their horns at me. It wasn’t the buzzer for me to cross but rather the other side one! Could have been messy!

Also by being in the now, you tend to be much more effective and things get completed more quickly!

Have a great week everybody and be kind to yourself! It is stressful and the more you can do to reduce that, the better for everyone. Stressed people can be rather cranky!

 

 

 

Are you grateful?

December 3, 2013

Here20499375_s in Auckland the pohutukawa are really starting to bloom, so it’s starting to feel like summer and that Christmas is coming. For you non-Kiwis the pohutukawa trees are often called NZ Christmas trees as they bloom in December.

Anyway, its not Christmas I am going to write about this week, but Thanksgiving, which is celebrated in the USA on the last Thursday of November. ( It is also celebrated in Canada on the second Monday in October.)

As some of you know I have lived in both countries but it is the US holiday I am going to talk about.
I lived in California for three years from early 2006 and Thanksgiving was my favourite holiday and I’ll tell you why.

  • It is a public holiday and as it’s on a Thursday, most people get Friday off too.
  • It is a time to celebrate with family, as much as possible, so there are LOTS of people travelling. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is often quoted as the busiest travel day of the year. Whilst this isn’t true it is a very busy day.
  • You get to eat yummy food, often roast turkey with all the trimmings. One of the unusual ones for this Kiwi was brussels sprouts! Many of you are probably going yuk, but trust me, I had never had brussels sprouts fixed like I had on Thanksgiving.
  • It is cool if not downright cold, so it is a great day to eat all of this yummy stuff, unlike our summer Christmas!
  • There are Thanksgiving traditions but I never participated in any of these. Two are big parades eg. Macy’s n NY put on an enormous parade…Think the Santa parade on steroids! The other is watching football (gridiron or American football), either live or on TV as a family.
  • You spend time with your family if at all possible and if not, groups of friends get together. Many families get together at Thanksgiving but maybe not at Christmas.
  • Gratitude and thanksgiving. As it’s name suggests Thanksgiving is for exactly that…giving thanks. It is a time to demonstrate and articulate thanks for the good things in our lives particularly the non-material ones – family, friends, love, warmth, homes, good food are some of the popular ones. I just loved this and in all of the Thanksgiving celebrations I attended we did this around the table during the meal. One shouldn’t need a special day to be thankful for all of our blessings, but when there is a day at least you reflect and express it then if you don’t any other time of the year! For more information on the origins go here.
  • No presents!! I just loved this part of it. It seemed to me that there was more room for gratitude and good family/friends time when there were no links to gifts. You could just enjoy the company and the food without the anxiety that often surrounds gift giving. Gratitude is said to expand the heart and joy…it always felt like that to me.
  • Then of course there is Black Friday, the biggest shopping day in the USA! It is often described as the day that retailers go into the black! It is hectic and often dangerous! People have been known to be trampled to death in the rush to get the bargains! Great for  shopaholics though!

Take some time this week to reflect on what you are grateful for, not just what you want! What are you grateful for? Let me know.

5158257_mLast week I entitled my MMM (Monday Money Motivator) – It’s not too late!

In it I gave you some tips on Christmas and holiday spending. I had some very favourable comments so it did seem to strike a chord with you.

 

In some ways “it’s not too late” could be the title for this week’s MMM too!

 

Two recent pieces of news attracted my attention.

  1. That credit card spending was going up … “Actual retail sales on electronic cards were up 7 percent to $6 billion in October from the same month a year earlier.” http://bit.ly/1iXID9F
  2.  There is a prediction that interest rates will rise http://bit.ly/1cgzkzg. Many commentators predict that this could be as high as 2%.

I must state again that I am not a financial advisor, but am talking about this because these two factors together could make huge a huge impact on people’s spending plans.

 

In the second article …“Mortgage broker Geoff Bawden calculates for every $100,000 borrowed, a 1% rise will add $64 to a weekly mortgage payment. “ It also said that the average mortgage in Auckland was $400,00, so for that “average” mortgage that would mean an additional $256 a WEEK that you would have to find. Monthly that would be $1109! That is for an increase of 1% … double that for 2%!! $2218. That is a lot of money to find in most of the spending plans ( budgets) I see.

 

I don’t bring these to your attention to scare you, but rather to persuade you to act now, especially if you are affected by both pieces ie you are using credit cards more than you did last year (especially if you are not able to pay them off every month) and your mortgage repayments may significantly increase next year.

 

Take these steps:-

  1. Stop using your credit cards now!! Revert to cash or debit/eftpos cards. Research shows that your spending on credit cards is likely to be about 20% more than it would on debit cards and that number is even higher when compared to cash! Then work very hard to get them paid off ASAP. If mortgage rates rise you can guarantee that so will the interest rates on credit cards!
  2. Relook at your spending plan for Christmas and the holidays and reduce the spending where possible.
  3. Get help now. Don’t leave it until you are in trouble; do what you can to prevent it happening. Remember that I offer a free chat over coffee. If time and or location make that impossible we can always have a virtual chat by phone of Skype!

Whatever you do, take action now and get yourself better prepared for what could come in the New Year! If the interest rates don’t rise think how much you could pay off your principal instead!!

 

I hope I haven’t put too much of a dampener on your Monday, but just know I am doing it with your best interests in mind! Please don’t bury your head in the sand; it will be that much easier if you act now!! You will feel much better if you are proactive.

If you have  a mortgage are you making any plans on how you might manage the increased interests rates? Is your mortgage on a fixed interest rate? Please share your thoughts below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you spend a lot of time worrying about money? Does it interfere with your work life?
 
A recent arti12637931_scle in US News cited a study by McGraw Hill Federal Credit Union, which showed that in a survey of more than 1000 people, 36% of them said that they spent at least two hours a day either worrying about their finances or handling them. “…another study, “Stressed at Work,” from Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, an employee-assistance program provider, that suggests almost half of workers are so stressed out that it interferes with their ability to get their jobs done. About 44 percent of male respondents and 49 percent of female respondents said they had “difficulty concentrating” as a result of “personal problems and stress.” Meanwhile, Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report finds that 7 in 10 workers are not engaged with their work.”
 
If you are an employer this must make scary reading!
 
I was interested in the article, because I have been approached recently by an employer seeking assistance for one of their staff, who had a significant amount of debt and was very worried about it. It was agreed that they would pay for their employee to see me. We have met several times and have made some plans for dealing with their situation, which has eased her anxiety considerably. Even if she wasn’t worrying about her money situation at work ( and I’m certain she was!) she was losing sleep over it. This alone would have reduced her effectiveness at work.
 
So her company paying for her work with me will, I’m sure, be very cost effective. As well as improving her productivity it will also increase her company loyalty, because she appreciates how they have supported her personally.
 
Many companies now subsidise gym memberships; a good case can be made for also providing access to financial education and support. I have done several talks for companies to provide this. I am very happy to do it for your company as well; just give me a call.
 
As promised a couple of weeks ago now, here is the link to request my article “How to get through Christmas and the Holidays without blowing out the credit cards!” Simply click on the Christmas tree. You will also be sent a Holiday planner from Karen McCall of the Financial Recovery Institute along with the spreadsheet to go with it.

Have a great week.