Yup, it’s that time of year again

After the holiday eating and shopping orgies, many of us start to think about our behaviors. We resolve to make changes in the coming New Year. We promise ourselves we will do things lik

  1. eat more healthy food
  2. exercise more  and
  3.  get our financial act together.

 Oh those resolutions!!!

I admire women and men who make these resolutions. They  know there are problems They even know what the problems are. And they know how to fix them. They start to eat better, exercise more and maybe even pull out a piece of paper, or go online to start to develop a budget.

But most do not stick to this discipline.

Well, they are human, after all. They, like me, yield to the temptations of dessert, if not the other pressures of daily life. They are imperfect like me and maybe you.

What’s a human to do?

Hire someone. Get a professional to guide you and keep you ON TRACK. That professional nutritionist, trainer or financial advisor has the knowledge and experience to start you off right. S/he will explain the basics and then help you implement them–by telling to you focus on your core and/or your bottom line.

You are more likely to take her/his advice and become more disciplined. S/he will give you easy steps to take. And since you feel accountable to someone besides your (sweetly imperfectly human) self, you are more likely to stay ON TRACK and achieve some of the goals you have set for yourself during the next year.

Try it. You will be glad you did

 

But, if you need a little nudge, here’s  a stimulus. It is a free quiz developed by a University. (Yes it is from New Jersey, imperfect at it is. Those of us from N.J.–like Jon Stewart and me– really do have something to offer.)

So click on this link to take the absolutely FREE quiz. Then re-read this post and see if it is time to call a professional and really make a change for the better. 

Hot off the presses!

Here it is! Your very own paperback version of  Hot Flash Financial!

It is a grown up version of the website. No actually it is a development of the Hot Flash Financial approach. Yes it retains the hot flash method– laugh while you learn. And it offers clear explanations of complex issues, plus a set of STEPs to follow, STEPs you can rely on, if you want to increase your financial security.

So why buy a copy?HFF cover

The more you  know, the more control you will feel. Your stress about money will start to melt away, because you will know what you are doing with your money, and how. That is the best way that you can improve your future.

And, by the way, it is cheap. Your $15 investment will pay back a thousand fold!

So, hit the link to  buy your paperback copy  “and get one today!!!!” (as they shamelessly say on TV)

You will be glad you did.

 

Open those envelopes

It’s that time again. When important envelopes come flying into your mailbox. These envelopes usually have BOLD text on the front that say something like

 IMPORTANT TAX DOCUMENT ENCLOSED.

What do you usually do with those envelopes? Just pile them up?

Aren’t you just the least bit curious about that important  information?

Why not do something different this year?  After all, you are older and wiser now.

Sooooooo

OPEN THE ENVELOPES!

READ THE FORMS!

Then file them in a  careful TAX file, so you can start getting more organized about your money.

In addition, your clever organization will help you get ready for taxes, early. And maybe file early so you get your refund early!


Those are some good reasons to open them and read them. So let’s tell you what to expect and why you should read them.

In January, here are 2 kinds of documents that come in the mail. The first set of envelopes hold statements that tell you how much money you (and/or your partner) made last year. The second set, usually 1099 forms, tell you how much you earned in dividends or interest, and provide other information.

Focus on the first set of envelopes. There are thick ones, and very thin ones.

  • The thin envelopes hold forms called W-2 (forms).  A W-2 tells you  how much money you (or your partner) earned last year.
    • When you see a W-2, look for Box 1. It lists WAGES, TIPS AND OTHER COMPENSATION. What is the dollar amount? That’s your “gross” or total income. The amount that you get paid before all the benefits and taxes are taken out. That is a good number to know. And, it is an important tax document. You will need it to fill out your income tax documents and send it to the IRS. So put it into your new Tax File.
  • The thick envelopes tell you how much money you hold in your retirement accounts, and other accounts at banks and investment houses. These are year-end statements. So grab them, and read them so you know how much money you held in each account on December 31 of last year. Then go one better. Add this information to a list, your List of Assets. (See the Tools menu for the template you can use.) Make this a New Year’s Ritual. Every year, write down how much money you hold in each and every account. Then add up the total. This total  is another important number to know.

Now let’s look at the second set of envelopes. They generally come from Banks or other financial institutions . They tend to hold forms called 1099s.

  • 1099 form tells you how much interest (1099-INT) or dividends (1099-DIV) you earned in each and every account that you hold. There are also 1099-R forms and 5498 forms that list IRA accounts, and contributions made to retirement accounts.

While these forms may seem boring, they actually can help you understand a lot about your money. Let’s say you don’t remember how many accounts you or your partner holds. Well, these forms remind you. Each one lists the name of a bank or financial institution that holds your account your partner’s. And it tells you

    •  the type of account (like savings, or investment or retirement)  held at that Bank
    • the account number
    • and the name of the person, or persons who own the account and control the money in it.

So if you forgot to include 1 or 2 accounts in your List of Assets, these 1099 forms can remind you of their existence. After all, Hot Flash Financial wants you to keep track of every account that holds your hard earned money. So pile all of these 1099 forms into your Tax file, and use these forms to cross-check your holdings.

If you find more accounts, add them to your List of Assets. Then track down the total dollar amounts held in each and write it on your List of Assets.  When you add up your total balance, you will really be happy to see value of your assets grow!

So watch for these envelopes. Open them up and read them. Use them to update your List of Assets.That way you will  know how much money you have. And, you can get organized for tax time.

You will be glad you did.

———————–

If you get all your tax documents organized you can file your income taxes early. THAT MEANS YOU CAN GET YOUR REFUND EARLY!!!!

A new tradition

Let’s start a new “tradition.”  (Humor me. I was trained as an anthropologist. We anthropologists  love rituals.) Let’s call it a Hot Flash Financial Tradition.

What is this tradition? First it, is a ritual that occurs around new years. How do you do it?  Every year, you revise your List of Assets to reflect the December 31, 2012 balances. After you have the year end balances, you add up the total. Then do the really smart, Hot Flash Financial thing– Celebrate what you did right. And use your new List of Assets to make some decisions to improve your financial security next year.

If you have not developed your own personal List of Assets, create your first one today. (Go to the Tools Tab and select List of Assets.)  You take the same steps as someone who has a List of Assets.

Here are the steps you can use to follow the ritual. Go on-line to access every one of your retirement accounts, as well as investment and savings accounts. If you already  created your list of assets, add a column and mark it December 31, 2012. Input the dollar values for the last day of the year for every one of your account balances.  Then add the dollar values all up to get a Total. Now, do what comes naturally. Find out if your retirement account balances are higher than last year.

The next part of the  Hot Flash Financial Tradition is crucial: figure out what you did right! Also figure out what needs to be improved.

What you did right:

  • If you added more money to your retirement accounts, the total should be higher.
  • If you were invested  in stocks (or stock mutual funds) your balances may be as much as 10% -13% higher. (The S & P 500 booked a 13% increase over last year, 2012. If you invested a portion of your portfolio in Bonds, you may not be as high. But you got stability or less crazy fluctuations in your account values. Why? you reduced your risk by investing in bonds. Reducing risk has a cost. But it also has a strong plus–it allows you to sleep better at night.)

This is the most fun of this ritual. Pat yourself on the back and celebrate what you did right!!!!!

If you added money to your retirement account, but the increase did not meet your expectations, figure out why.

What you could improve in the future:

  • Did you add enough money to your retirement account  to make the total budge?
  •  Are there other reasons for the shortfall in your expectations about your retirement account balances, and your overall Hot Flash Stash of Cash?
    • Did you decide to save for the future, but you deposited that money into a savings account instead of your retirement investment account(s)? A savings account probably gave you about 1% return in 2012  By contrast, the stock market gave about 10%-13% in the same year. Did you make the right decision, saving in a savings account rather than a retirement account? What will you do in the next 12 months? Invest in your retirement account or in a savings account?
    • Savings accounts are nice. They reduce the risk that you will lose the money you deposited. But remember there is a “risk-return” trade off. If you take on more risk–investing in the stock market, you are likely to get more return. (In this case, the return in 2012 [and most years] would have been positive, although the market did move up and down a lot during the year. While the dollar amounts fluctuated, over the long term, in this case a year,  you were ahead.) If you take less risk–investing in a savings account–you are likely to get a lower return. Lower risk is often correlated (as we say in the biz) with lower return.

Your handy- dandy List of Assets becomes a really important reference point.  It also enables you, no actually empowers you to make some important decisions and improve your financial security. Your decisions can increase the number of things you do that are right over the next few years. So you can celebrate more. 

After celebrating, take a closer look at your List of Assets to figure out what you can do to increase your own, personal financial security in the coming 12 months.

Since we can’t shut up, we will suggest you do 2 things.

  1. Increase the amount of money you deposit in your retirement account. Increase it by 1%. And, if you can, work toward increasing your contributions, over the next year or 2 or 3, to deposit the maximum legally allowed.
  2. Decide if you are comfortable with a bit more risk. If so, invest a greater portion of your retirement savings  in the stock and bond markets, for the long term. If not, stick with savings accounts.

Make this  Hot Flash Financial tradition, your tradition  every first week in January. That way, you have more control. You have the knowledge of what you have done well. And you can take the steps you need to take to improve your financial security over the long term.

New Years Resolution

Here at Hot Flash, we love New Years Resolutions.

Allow us to suggest one for 2013- Live within your means.

Or, since we are entering a year that ends in unlucky 13, we can rephrase this resolution in terms of luck.

It is  unlucky to live above your means. (So every time your write the numbers 13, you have a reminder, nudge, or prompt to remember your resolution to live within, or even below, your means.)

So what does that really imply?

Your “take home pay” is the focus. It is your limit, your “means.” So you can spend only the amount of money that you bring “home” in your paycheck. Not a dime more. (And you can NOT cheat by charging something on your credit card(s). Unless, of course, you pay off the total balance due when the  bill comes.)

You must be thinking…… that is so………….un-American…..so impossible.

But is it?

Hmmm. It is tough for Baby Boomers to hear this, but……………your parents probably lived within their means. (And they probably saved some money while they were doing it……. Just sayin’)

Why would you do this?

If you start to develop the skill of living within your means, you will have a more sustainable life style.

That is probably not such a bad idea, given the fact that you are likely to live longer than your parents.

So how about it?  Resolve to live “within your means.” Test yourself, and see how you do.

Here’s a short take home quiz. Find it if you can you live within your means, at least as long as you followed your diet last year? Or as long as you committed yourself to exercise every day?

Now, this in Hot Flash Financial talking to you. S0 if you try, and find out that you are not exactly perfect, use laughter as a weapon. Tell us your funny story. Share it with us at hotflashfinancial@gmail.com.

That way you can join us–Hot Flash Mamas–as we imperfectly march toward the next phase in our lives.

What will motivate you? A bargain?

Are you one of those girls who wants to get something for free, or at least 20% off.

Well, have we got a bargain for you!

Hot Flash Financial’s 3 step Financial Plan to improve your money situation and your future. Hot Flash Financial offers a major breakthrough. Unlike competitors who offer just one method, we eliminate the discomfort of having too little money when you are 85.

Hot Flash Financial easily removes Money Stress. It is GREAT for any woman with, or without, Hot Flashes.

 

What’s more,  Hot Flash Financial is Absolutely  Free!!! (for more than 30 days).

But Wait! If you click right now, we will give you very professional advice to improve your money situation today and in the future. 
  Advice that you probably know you should follow.
If you click on this site now, we will give you 8 Questions at no additional cost. And we will give you some hints to help you formulate your answers.Then, we will give you the steps you can take to make your life better. You will see the results in 6 weeks or more.
So click on this site now!
You can Buy One and Get one FREE. That way you Girlfriend  can start TODAY!
Who else will give you such important information that will improve your life, while not asking for money from you? Your hairdresser wants to be paid for his/her time. So does the manicurist and pedicurist, your masseuse, doctor, dentist, ….. you name it. 
We at Hot Flash Financial don’t demand cash nor credit to “make your life better.” Take advantage of our offer.”

What will motivate you? Your personality?

Are you  conscientious, emotionally stable, agreeable, an extrovert, who is open to experience?

If so, researchers say that you are likely to be, or  become more financially secure.

Here is a link to a summary of findings at the great  Boston College site.

 

But what if you are not all those things?

What if, somehow you lack one of those great Girl Scout personality traits? You raised your hand and took the pledge, but you knew, deep down inside that you were, well…… human.

Well, we love you here at Hot Flash Financial. We accept you and think you just have to follow the steps we give you! You’ll do fine.

 

Here at Hot Flash Financial we don’t  believe that anyone can be “perfect.”  In fact, we know we are imperfect. After all, we have hot flashes, don’t we?  We believe we have to have a sense of humor about these things. So read about  Using Laughter as a Weapon. It is a crucial part of the Hot Flash improvement plan for Your Financial Security.

So  join us.

Write a comment.

Click around this site.

And get your best friends to read the blogs, write comments and use laughter as a weapon with you. After all, Hot Flash Financial wants you to enjoy a future shared with good friends, and other loved ones, rich with laughter, as well as financial security. So bring the girls in, and start sharing the laughter now!

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolution

Here at Hot Flash, we  LOVE  New Year’s Resolutions.

If you make a New Year’s Resolution, you are more likely to take action to improve your life (than, of course, someone who has not made a resolution). And that is what Hot Flash Financial is all about—helping women, like you, improve your finances and your economic security.

So, if you resolve to save more money this year, pay down some debt, find out why you never seem to have enough money, or just get your financial life in order, Hot Flash Financial can help you with that. And  you won’t have to do this all alone.

Help is what most people need in January when they make a New Year’s Resolution. Because more than half will not keep their resolutions by July. You can’t just rely on your own good intentions. You do better if you set a specific goal, and use a clearly defined strategy, and follow a set of steps (without reinventing the wheel).

Set a specific goal, like—

    • I want to save $50 (or $500, etc.) from my paycheck every month. That is better than just saying you want to save more money, or
    • I want to track my spending so I know where my money goes. That way you can gain more control over your income and make careful decisions about spending, retirement, and/or other future spending such as a home  or car purchase, or
    • I want to reduce the total balance on one specific credit card by X amount of dollars by the end of this year. That is better than saying  you want to get out of debt.

At Hot Flash Financial, we recommend that you write that specific goal down–on an index card, or sticky note, or in some app. Writing it down just makes it seem more real.You need a clear strategy and set of steps that you can follow. That will work more than good intentions.

Professionals, like those of us at Hot Flash Financial, know what methods work, and can offer a clear set of steps that you can follow. Just click around  HOT FLASH FINANCIAL.com to get the list of steps that you need to :

    •  Save a specific amount of money each month. If you want to jump into this and you have an amount in mind, you can direct that money to a savings account. Or, you might want to direct that to an account that will be most beneficial to you over the long term. So you can click on the link   How to build  Then, if you are saving for the long term, look at Hot Flash Financial’s recommendation of the best account for saving—one with a tax break, Where to Stash it, as well as Start depositing now.
    • If you would like to have more control, and make more intelligent decisions about your money and its use, it often helps to figure out where your hard earned dollars go. Professionals call this process  Tracking your spending. It requires more steps, but has a bigger potential payoff. Because tracking  makes it  easier to make informed decisions about reducing spending in some areas. It has the potential to reduce tension about spending changes within a household or marriage, because you have a lot of numbers to point to, and multiple  points or expenditures to discuss. We can give you the Steps you need. Just click on Track it to find a list of great gismos you can use, or select the “lazy way.”  Then click on Track and Decide to help you select the best ways for you to find money to save or deploy for more important issues.
    • Reducing credit card debt can be a challenge. But Hot Flash Financial has some ways to help you. Follow our Hot Flash Financial Plan. You can skip Steps 1 and 2, and jump to Step 3 and click on How to pay it down. Then continue to Steps 5-8 so that you can use a superb method to pay it down—over time— with the Extra Hot Flash Amount

 

There are a few more secrets to fulfilling your Resolution. Most of us need a few emotional boosts, and some rewards to keep us going beyond January.

Emotional Boost and Rewards. You probably know that change is not easy. You may need a little boost to help you stay on course. So take our silly quizzes and look at our laugh button.

You can turn to a friend, loved one, or our site to ask for support, and gently remind you to get back on track if you stray a bit. In fact, Hot Flash Financial recommends that you  “Go On Record” with that friend or our site. You can Twitter us or use your own Facebook page, or show her/him your index card. Use either the hi tech or low tech method to share your specific goal and the steps you will take.  (Easy cheat sheet: the set of Steps we give you at Hot Flash Financial. Print them out and check them off as you do them). Research shows that you are more likely to fulfill your Resolution if you do that. Then, each month, you can brag about your success on Twitter and/or Facebook or friend. Oh, and when you achieve the goal you set for yourself CELEBRATE! You can give yourself a reward each month for a) saving that amount you resolved to save $50 or $500 or b) reducing your debt by the amount in your resolution.

Penalty. Don’t hesitate to create a little fine if you don’t follow the steps you set for yourself, or fall off the wagon for awhile. Have fun with this “punishment.” You decide what it will be. Here are some ideas:

  • allow a friend to tease you
  • pay a small “price” by giving money (a token amount) to  that friend, or loved one. (Don’t send money to our site. [We are not Soupy Sales.] Send money to a charity that you hate—like a charity that supports a cause opposed to your own preferences. For instance, if you support gun control, send a $25 donation to the NRA [National Rifle Association]. Now that is a penalty that will probably make you focus more clearly on meeting your own specific money goals for yourself.)

We hope the clearly defined steps outlined in this blog help you have success with your Resolution. And if you can’t wait until  2013 to take more steps to improve your finances, click on Hot Flash Financial every week, and Friend us on Facebook, sign up for our Tweets, and follow our blogs.

We welcome your clicks all year long.