Twas the night before MENOPAUSE………hysterical

Tis the season to be merry.

So take a look at this fabulously funny spoof on a Christmas poetry tradition.

Twas the night before menopause….

 

Enjoy!

Gas prices DROPPED!

Hooray!  Don’t you love that feeling?  You know that sweet feeling that you have a little more money in your wallet.

What are you gonna do with it? They say that, on average, each of us will have an extra $500.

I bet you have a list in your head for using that money.

Let me guess what is on your list. Hmmm………… More Xmas gifts for the family, a repair of your home, car or a down payment on a new car or washing machine……Have I  hit one right yet?

Television, magazines and online ads bombard you with the same message. SPEND IT !!!!!

What if…….? What if you tried something radically new (“disruptive”)? What if you did NOT SPEND it. What if you  SAVED THAT MONEY? Or more correctly …..

What if you put that money……………….. to work for you in your IRA or savings account, a little every week?  You know, $25 per week or $50 per month.

What if you used it ………………..to pay off (or pay down) your credit card debt, $25 every week and/or $50 per month? Or front load it, that is hit it hard, by paying down $100 per month to reduce the balance on the credit card that requires you to pay the highest interest charges? (You know, debt reduction is a form or saving that has the added benefit of reducing your stress.)

Once you start that saving and/or debt reduction, why not do that for the next, oh…..2-3 years? Save $25 per week and/or $50 per month and deposit it into your IRA and/or pay off all your credit card debt? Make it $20  per week or $100  per month. Whatever you can afford.

Treat yourself!!!! Put that money into an account with your name on it. You will feel less stress  and more secure. That will make your life better, easier, softer, kinder after you leave work behind. Less anxiety, more control.

That is what I am advocating. Give yourself  more control!!!

I want you to take the money that used to flow out of your wallet into a gas tank, and move it into accounts with your name on them. You take it!!!!! You use that money to increase your savings and/or drop your debt burden.

Take full advantage of the decrease in gasoline prices.  Put yourself on your list. Take Control ! Give that money to  yourself!!! Why? It will  build your wealth and security.

Wouldn’t that feel good?

 

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. 

What are you waiting for?

Procrastination. It is soooo human. It is sooo seductive. If we  just put something off, we feel like we don’t have to stress about it. But, if we delay, dawdle, postpone, ignore, we actually deceive ourselves.

Why? Procrastination is magic. It is based on illusion. 

Illusion?

Yes. Because  you think that it costs you nothing to drag your feet.

But procrastination is amazingly costly!!!!!!

The longer you wait, the more you lose. The longer you dawdle, the more you squander your self respect.

This is especially true if you put off focusing on your money and its role in your future. The longer you wait to take steps to improve your finances, the more money you lose.

Good news. If you stop procrastinating, you could have your money working for you. Your Hot Flash Stash of Cash could be building up for you.

Bad news. If you continue procrastinating, for instance ignoring your credit card debt, you will squander amazing amounts of your money on interest payments and fees.

Sooooooo………….Stop procrastinating. Start to take control.

If you, yourself,  can’t get past the seduction of delay, (and can’t DIY within a month of reading this), consult a professional.

Conferring with a professional should not be a strange idea. After all, you turn to a professional to cut and style your hair, or paint your toenails. You go to  a professional to take care of your teeth…….So, if you don’t floss daily, that dental professional can help you, no matter how challenging the problem.

Your money challenges, right there on your procrastination list, can be deftly handled by a trained, experienced professional.  S/he can clarify what you need to do, give you a set of steps to take, and support you while you get you get your finances under control. And s/he can help you with that huge challenge– having enough money to pay for everything you need for the rest of your very long life. If you want the dignity and self respect that financial security brings, it is time to consult a professional.

So what are you waiting for?

 

Mistakes?

Sally Krawcheck wrote a great piece recently. I have to bring her wisdom to you.

She begins with a few  “misjudgments” we women might make. Now I am sure each of you is….perfect. But just in case you are a bit more human, and so may occasionally err (like I do), I thought I would list a few here.

This list starts with a few the mistakes that wives/partners often make. One or two might seem a  little “retro.” Read them anyway, making sure you have not done these things, because you trust a partner too much, or  think you do not have enough time, or will never face a crisis like divorce or the death of a partner.

1. Letting your husband or partner manage the money, without getting involved.

2.  Signing a joint tax return without reading it.  

As a woman in the 21st century, you need to know how much money you hold as an individual, how much he/she holds and how much you both hold jointly in accounts. You need to know where the money is stashed, how it is managed, and if it is managed or mismanaged. You also need to be able to discern whether your partner is hiding money or misdeeds from your  (like maintaining “another woman” or engaging in some nefarious and illegal activity) and doing so with your money and risking your good name.

You also need to know how much money your partner/husband earns. That dollar amount is written right there on the front page of the the tax return, and the W-2 slips that you need to provide to the IRS. If your partner earns a substantial amount, you need to concern yourself with the ways in which this money is spent or retained to increase your joint financial security. Does your partner/spouse share income with you? Do you each hold accounts in your names, and/or joint accounts? Or does he (or she) hold it all in his/her name?  Are there provisions made for loss, such as a death? Are there steps taken to make sure you will not be left penniless? And if you  have children, what has been done to provide for them, as heirs or orphans.

This becomes important whether you are dependent upon your partner for an income, or if you both earn a living. You need to make good decisions about the income you both earn. Why? In the 21st century, one of you is likely to lose a job, at some point–due to corporate restructuring, downsizing, mergers & acquisitions, etc. So you need to deploy your income while you each work to make sure you have an emergency fund (to tide you through job losses). And you  have to make certain you are saving enough cash from each paycheck and investing it in case of a long term loss of income, a disability or loss of your partner.

Let me offer you a third one on her insightful list. 

3. Making decisions about staying at home, versus retaining employment after you have children (or care for an ill parent, in-law etc.) without calculating the long term impact on your career and your family’s income, is a lapse.

Why consider this? Once you leave the workforce you are less likely to return to a position of equal status and income.  History has shown that women’s income is often only 77% of that of a man. Some argue that this lower pay is a function of our movement out of and back into the workforce. So, why not think this decision through, with the aid of a spreadsheet? Run some scenarios about the dates of your  return to the workforce. Make sure you calculate best case and worst case scenarios and then run a scenario for something in between these two.

These are just 3 of the “The Top 10 Financial Mistakes Women Make” according to Ms. Krawchek. I promise to offer you a few more in subsequent posts.

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.

 

Help a friend?

Do you have a sense of humor? Do your friends? Do your friends have a sense of humor about their own behavior?

Well, here is a new sweepstakes with a great idea, Help your friends. That is, help one of your friends who has some trouble with her/his finances, especially spending.

Now, the page introducing “Help a friend” clarifies that we all make mistakes and waste money. But, the one you “help” would merit, as they say,” an Olympian gold medal in money squandering.” So, the argument on the site goes, do your friend a favor and enter this friend into this sweepstakes. (At the same time you enter yourself into the sweepstakes). If you win, you get…… money.

There are videos associated with this program, and they tend to feature young, college age folks discussing the varied ways they spend money on “stuff” –memorial swords that are probably plastic, ugly designer jeans, myriad internet purchases, parties, taking a girlfriend to the “Jersey Shore” …………You get the point.

I decided to see how this works. So I pressed the HELP A FRIEND BUTTON and sent the email to myself. (I chose not to send a photo to post on the FACEBOOK  page of the site. It would show my friend posing with at least one incriminating impulsive purchase.)

I did receive an email. The email is well worded and raises some really good issues to consider. When I clicked on the  link, I was really pleased with the quiz that you can can take. It raises “your consciousness” on some spending habits that can be problematic. The  site itself has wonderful tools, such as calculators that help you budget, pay off debt, etc.

Now, I am a big great fan of NEFE—the National Endowment for Financial Education that created the site, and the Help a Friend sweepstakes. And I am a great fan of using humor to make a point.  And this Help A Friend Campaign uses humor to accomplish an important goal, help friends who waste money.

What I don’t know, is how my friends would respond. I mean, how would this work with “women of a certain age and distinction?” Would my friends be offended if I entered them into this sweepstakes? Or would they take it in stride, see that you can use humor to make some important points, and change your behavior?

What do you think?

So,…………why not consider saving more money?

How can you do this?  

HERE ARE SOME EASY STEPS TO FOLLOW:

1. SET A GOAL FOR YOURSELF.  It can include adding to a savings account, or reducing your over all debt. Did you know that –in the past year, 1 in 6 American Savers selected paying off consumer debts as their goal?  

2. MAKE A PLAN that you can FOLLOW.  If you want an easy one, that does not take much of your time— increase your contributions to your retirement account. Go On-Line and change your contribution level, by a certain amount of dollars or a percentage (like 1%).  You will be in very good company if you increase your retirement savings:  44% of those who reported having a retirement savings goal made a change to their retirement plans.

If you feel you can do more than one thing, and want some guidance,  click on our site.

  • Select the ASK & ANSWER button and look at the drop down menu. Select Extra money? Is she kidding? and also read about Trade Offs.
  • There is more for you, if you would like.  Select the  ACT button and look at the drop down menu and select Build you Stash.

3.  LEARN A FEW GOOD SAVINGS TRICKS.

  • Think carefully about what  you will do with your tax refund.  Did you know you can use your #tax refund to buy US Savings Bonds? It’s an easy, safe way to diversify your savings.    Check out the Tweets at   #ASW2012           http://ow.ly/8IUNX
  • Join @AmericaSaves for tips, news, and advice to help you save. Reach your savings goals.  Follow #ASW2012  on Twitter, or go to http://ow.ly/8dnzz

 

Saving more money

We know this is a real challenge. But there is help out there.

 

Take a look at the great ” Start Small, thing BIG campaign of ASEC  during America Saves Week.

Here is their Bolded Blurb

Visit www.americasavesweek.org  (or #ASW2012)   to learn how you can take informed action. Start Small, Think Big!

Here is another link that they provide.

   Every day is an opportunity to www.choosetosave.org.   

By the way, ASEC stands for American Savings Education Council. Its a great group. Please click on their site and use their tools.

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.