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?

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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?

 

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.

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?

Social Security and you

You are probably going to  hear  a lot about Social Security in the run-up to the next election. Each party will be talking about what are sometimes called “Entitlements.”  It is important for you, as a woman “of a certain age and distinction,” to know who really supports specific programs, especially Social Security.

Why? Because Social Security is one of the most important sources of money for women after age 65.

Really? Yes. Because women live so much longer than men. So we rely on Social Security (and Medicare) for a greater number of years and a greater number of dollars.  As we women age, a bigger and bigger portion of our monthly income comes from Social Security!

How much do we rely on Social Security? Well, we have some figures for you. Women are who 65 and older, get more than half (or  58%) of their income from Social Security. And, as we get older, and spend down the money we had saved for retirement, we increasingly rely on Social Security for all or nearly all (90%) of the money we use to buy food, pay for housing, etc. By the time you pass your 80th birthday, many  (38% ) of you will be completely or nearly completely (90%) reliant on Social Security.

So now you have to know the facts about Social Security.  You have to know if Social Security will be there for you, your sisters, and your children. So start here, and then click on this link Social Security.

Remember, you have to think long and hard about a candidate and his stand on Social Security and other “Entitlements” So when you decide to vote for your representative in Congress, in the Senate, and for the President, make sure you vote for someone who will continue to support Social Security and so older women. Cut through the “stuff ” on those political commercials. Make sure you check out the truth about past voting behavior, key proposals (like budget proposals) made by each candidate, and cross-check with an independent fact checker.

Why? If you, or your sister or best friend, is one of the women who will rely on Social Security for 58% of her income from age 65 on through the rest of your life, you need to vote to make sure every candidate who has your backing will support Social Security.

 

footnote: I am drawing my facts based on 2010 statistics and analyzed by the  National Women’s Law Center “Women and Social Security: Key Facts” May 20, 2011. Here is the link. http://www.nwlc.org/resource/women-and-social-security-key-facts)

 

Play on the internet and learn more

There are some really intriguing tool kits out there on the internet. They help us at  Hot Flash Financial help you  learn more, and get more control over your money and your future. So you  can become more financially secure. 

We like to recommend the sites developed by non-profits and research organizations, if not the U.S. government. They tend to be free, and they do not try to sell you anything.

Today’s recommendation: Take a look at NEFE’s (National Endowment for Financial Education) newly designed site. Be sure to explore the section called My Retirement Paycheck. This toolkit  helps you think about the kinds of  challenges you face, and the decisions you will need to make over the next 20-30+ years.

Take Social Security. We at Hot Flash  Financial encourage you to make a careful decision about the date you start your Social Security Benefits. Why, because you have more control than you probably thought you did. And Social Security is an very important part of most women’s income after age 65. So your decision about the age you start to take your benefits will have a very big  impact on your financial security. Social Security lets you decide to start to receive monthly checks when you are age 70, 66 or 62, or anywhere in between.

Why would you want to wait until age 70? Well NEFE points out that you will get a lot more dollars in your monthly benefit if you wait. How much more money? Oh, about 75% more than you would if you started at age 62. (That is almost, but not quite double the amount. So if you got $1,000 a nmonth at age 62, you would get $1,750 a month if you waited until age 70 to start your social security benefits. Now that might be worth waiting for.)

There are other really important  issues to consider. And NEFE puts them right up there for you to consider. What will be the best decisions to make about the money in your   retirement plan? What can you do about  medical insurance. What should you consider when you think about your home and  your mortgage? Pay it off? Or sell your home and downsize so you can take  the equity (or gain) and use it for income?

We at Hot Flash Financial encourage you to check out this site.  They have a format someone like ours. Ask yourself a question, and then get answers, right on the site.

So click around the web page devoted to retirement and your retirement paycheck. You will be glad you did.

Comment below so we can see what you think.

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?

We want you to take yourself seriously. We think you are worth it. So we are going to encourage you to take some time for yourself, and some money for yourself. So you can improve your finances and your future.

We are going to start with a series of blogs that ask you a question? What will motivate you to act in your own self interest? To improve your control over money and your future?

We are going to ask a lot of different questions. We recognize that there is diversity out there. We women have different backgrounds and perspectives, as well as different challenges. Some of us are younger, with hot flashes on the horizon. Others are older, with the heat and frantic fanning a distant memory. Some of us are married, some divorced or widowed and some have never, ever married. There are so  many differences that not all of us can be moved to action with the same set of words.

So read these blogs and focus on the Motivation issue that hits home for you. Is it

  • fear, or a
  • concern you will be a burden to your children? Is it
  • lack of knowledge? Is it that
  • you  have never been employed and relied on your partner for income? Is it that
  • you and your partner argue a lot about money and so you are rightly concerned about opening a Pandora’s box? Is it that you have
  • run into real trouble in the Great Recession–you may be unemployed, and/or your house is worth a lot less than your mortgage, or worse?
  • all of the above or some of the above?
Read our blogs. Comment on them. Click around on our sit. Tell your friends about us. Get them to click around the site too. Get them to join you as you ASK our questions and try to develop ANSWERS. Then ACT! to improve your control over your money and your future.