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How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806 – 1861

(Updated and financialized by Tana Gildea)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee enough to live within our means

So we shall never face the collections fiends

And we can be debt-free at the end of our days.

My 401k can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of our being at an ideal pace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, without going into debt and causing us to fight.

I love thee freely, with all my spending in plain sight.

I love thee purely, with my assets protecting us each night.

I love thee with the passion to invest our assets with good use

Without my old fears, and with a conservative faith.

I love thee without needing jewels,

Or endless stuff like some fools. I love thee with the bonds,

stocks, and security of a good financial life; and, if God choose,

I shall save and invest until we part in death.

Who do you love enough to create financial security for? Hopefully yourself!

To your financial (and Valentine) success!  Tana

Finish Strong!

2017 is flying by! Today as I write this, we enter the 4th quarter of 2017. How is it going? For me, each quarter is a transition point, a signpost to acknowledge that time is passing, and I need to pay attention. As I have written in the past, this has been a year of frenzy for me personally and professionally and seems to be a blur. I am consciously choosing to stop and be aware in this moment, to stop moving and reacting in a frantic way and to consciously choose how I experience the last quarter of this year. I very much want it to be different from the last 3!

I am looking closely at my spending (a lot) and saving (not enough). That, for me, is a symptom of living at too fast a pace – no time to plan or prepare or think ahead – let me just grab it, order it, drive through – frantic, frantic – no time for looking at my spending plan – just get it done. This is the time for me to stop and say “enough.” Settle down, take a breath, align with what is important. Here are some things that I am thinking about for this last quarter:

• What is truly important to me? Does my spending match up to that?
• Where is my money going? Is that supporting and enriching my life?
• Do I feel financially safe? How can I use my money to improve that?
• Have I done everything possible to minimize my tax bill this year?

o Keeping close track of charitable deductions
o Maximizing retirement savings plans
o Keeping my files organized so that tax prep is painless
o Keeping up with all of my business expenses
o Fully funding my health savings account

• Do I have a plan to manage the holidays without debt?

o How can I recognize my family and friends in a way that does not jeopardize my goals and my financial health?
o What will bring joy to my holidays rather than stress?
o What gifts can I give that will be the most meaningful? (Likely that has little to do with money.)

I hope you will join me in a quick time out to think, to plan, and to prepare for this last quarter of the year. Too, too soon I will be writing about 2018! Savor the moment. Seize the day. Finish the year strong and confident in your plans.
To your financial (and 4th quarter) success!

Tana

Generosity Is Not a Feeling

That is a quote from Andy Stanley who is a pastor, writer, and speaker in Alpharetta. I recently attended a conference for financial planners, and he was one of the speakers. That statement really hit me because my acts of generosity are definitely inspired by the feeling I have in that moment: the child at the door raising money for band/sports/schools, the plea for funds at the charity dinner, the pictures of the starving animals on TV. Certainly I can be pushed into generosity, but is that really generosity? Andy would say, “absolutely not;” it’s a response to good marketing.

Andy describes generosity as the “premeditated, calculated, designated emancipation of personal assets.” Under that definition, I am not generous in the least!

Let’s look at that:

  1. Premeditated – planned in advance; an action and not a reaction (the child knocking on the door)
  2. Calculated – you know the amount
  3. Designated – you know where it is going
  4. Emancipation – you set your money free to do good in the world (how inspiring is the word emancipation!)

One thing that has always bothered me about my random acts of giving is that I am scattering seeds to the wind rather than purposely planting them where they will grow in a direction that is important and meaningful to me. That “designated” part was the initial source of unease for me but certainly premeditated and calculated are just as much an issue.

How do you rate under Andy’s definition of generosity? Is that definition meaningful for you? Maybe you have your own that makes sense in your life. Mine was based on responding to a need from someone else but did not ever really belong to me. What is my desire to share my blessings in a direction that touches my heart, and how do I go about doing that with some forethought?

This directly ties to Andy’s question: “what is your plan for supporting organizations and causes that you are passionate about?” Gulp. I am a major planner (uh, it’s actually part of my job title!), but I don’t have a plan in this area. I am as random and un-premeditated as you can get. Oh, good, another area of my financial world that needs work! What’s new?

So, I am moving in the direction of premeditation as a first step. What are the organizations that I am most passionate about? As my kids launch into their own independent lives, the organizations that have received my passion (and my time, talent, and treasure) are no longer relevant – their schools, their activities, their passions. So what are mine? Where do I want to make an impact?

Think about your own premeditation in this area. Is that meeting your heart’s desire? If not, take the step with me and start “meditating” on your own passion for changing the world.

To your financial success (and generosity),

Tana

Where are you in your half-time?

We are past the halfway mark for 2016 and perhaps you are shaking your head in wonder as I am. At halftime, teams gather in the locker room and assess what went well and what has gone awry so I recently sat down to do the same.
To be honest, I am not so thrilled as home improvement projects have gone beyond the home improvement budget at the same time as other large expenses have seemed to pop up. Isn’t that always the way it goes? What’s a gal to do except sharpen up the pencil and see what can be cut back and reworked to get back on track.

The Tana of old would have been more likely to use the old dieter’s refrain, “I’ve already blown it so who cares?!” and go forward letting my savings suffer. But the older and well, just older, Tana is determined to begin a new and still make the budget work with quite a bit less of that and even less of the other.

How about you? How are things looking at your halftime? Are the savings on track? The net worth a bit better? Is your spending where you want it to be? I hope so. I hope the income is better than imagined and the expenses lower but just in case it is not, try, try again. See where you can sharpen up the pencil and make do with what you have for a while until the numbers line up in a way that makes you feel good.

There is an ebb and flow to the seasons and the days and the money and if the flow is going the wrong way, now is the time to shore things up and get back on track. Good luck to all of us in “shore up” mode and to all who are well ahead, good job – keep it up; you are halfway there!
To your financial success.