Category Archives: Finance

Mad Money

Is it okay to talk about finances while dating? Discussing finances early in relationships can diminish money problems in the future. This season highlights love and money from Valentine’s Day to Tax season; why not take the opportunity to open up dialogue about this tough subject? This article will discuss when the topic becomes vital, how to engage your love interest and how to align your financial goals and/or growth.

The general consensus is the money talk should occur well before a couple gets married, and for good reason. “Money is the number-one source of conflict among couples, particularly early in marriage,” says Orbuch, who has studied the same 373 couples for 30 years as part of a long-term National Institutes of Health study on marriage. Orbuch finds that 7 out of 10 couples report money is a significant source of tension in their relationships.Money issues have been labeled as a major conduit to divorce and stems from lack of discussion from both parties. That statistic and vicious cycle can change once people shed the fear of having difficult conversations. If commitment is on the table, financial questions should soon follow. Filipino couples who plan their finances together have a more positive outlook, highlighting the need to break traditional gender roles when it comes to money. According to Pru Life UK’s relationship index, 89 percent of couples who plan together expect their finances to improve in the next 5 years compared to 74 percent for those who don’t.

“The facts speak for themselves, couples who plan their finances together show much higher relationship scores with their partners than those who plan separately,” Pru Life UK Chief Marketing Officer Allan Tumbaga said.

The best way to talk about the subject is through real life experiences together. For instance, if the two of you are planning a vacation together than obviously the issue of money will come up. You will get an idea how well your money ideals work together by paying attention to how each of you plans and spend during the vacation. Or, if the two of you are thinking about going in together to buy a big-ticket item, then the money conversation should come up. If one partner wants to put the whole thing on credit at a high interest rate and you would rather pay cash – then it can be obvious that you are in two different places when it comes to money. Another way to bring up the conversation is to wait for a time when you both are relaxed and at ease. Don’t make a big deal about it or turn it into something dramatic. No one wants to be put on the spot or intentionally caught off guard. Ask about a potential purchase you’re thinking about or maybe share a financial goal you’re planning. Once your partner seems interested ease them into a more personal conversation.

The money talk is inevitable in any long-term relationship, especially when the couple has divergent attitudes about money. The lucky ones are able to reconcile their differences early and work out a compromise. But many couples avoid the conversation only to discover over time that one person wants to spend more than the other, which can breed mutual contempt. Studies show that couples who tackle financial issues early, often avoid the common arguments about money. Proverbs 22:7 states “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” This scripture reminds of how debt can bind us and prevent us from being financially free. Discussing monetary issues with our partner can reveal things such as debt and other issues that can cause problems in long-term relationships. Tackling these hard conversations can only help in the pursuit of love.

Saving Yourself

Have you ever thought about giving cheerfully to yourself? Change the way you think about saving and realize that it’s okay to give to yourself.

Sometimes the things we learn in church concerning money can have a negative impression on how money is viewed. Let’s review a couple of statements you may have heard. Money doesn’t buy happiness! For the love of money is the root of all evil! How do these statements make you feel when you read them? For real, take the time to think of what each statement means to you. Personally, they put me in the mindframe that money is evil and the demise of society, as we know it. On the other hand, one is encouraged to give cheerfully.  The Bible tells us, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7). Let’s explore how financial stability can actually enhance your mood and establish ways to reward yourself, as well as the importance of creating and continuing a tradition of financial literacy amongst your family and friends.

Evidence suggests that a myriad of factors are more vital to our sense of personal and life satisfaction than money. But evidence has also been mounting that our economic situation — especially our level of economic security — does indeed have a lot to do with the degree of happiness we experience in our lives. Now, some interesting new research sheds additional light on the role our financial situation plays in how happy we are.

According to noted mathematical economist, Christian Bayer, and his colleague, Falko Juessen, having more money is indeed related to happiness, but not in the way anyone might first suppose. Money may not be the key to happiness, but our level of financial security does affect our emotional and psychological well-being. It appears that we’re most satisfied with our lives when we have some confidence that our level of financial comfort will increase steadily over time and that we won’t have to kill ourselves to maintain that increased comfort level.

Planning to splurge or setting a goal amount of funds to save can create happiness. Research literature reveals that we experience the strongest positive emotional response when we make progress on our most difficult goals. Psychology today states, “Progress on our goals leads to more positive emotions and more satisfaction with life.” It increases our well-being. In turn, positive emotions contribute to our motivation to act. This is a win-win situation if we can “just get started.” Verywell.com says that Goals matter. Setting the right goals, having a plan to reach those goals, and following through on what is required to reach or maintain those goals, can make the difference between having a happy, fulfilled life or not having a life at all.  

Pay it forward to the next. Once you save to save yourself, share it with anyone that will listen, especially if you have children or relatives that are close enough to see you go through the process and start a new tradition. Expound upon one of the golden rules about giving and CHEERFULLY SAVE YOURSELF!

Be Blessed, Not Stressed

The end of the year is approaching and everyone falls into the familiar hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays. The Bible tells us in, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (English Standard Version).” If you are a believer, you know the story of Jesus’ birth and that we celebrate that birth during Christmas. You would think the season would be filled with joyous praise to our Heavenly father and the remembrance of the greatest gift to man. Matthew 2:2, in the Bible says, “Saying, Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him (ESV).” Unfortunately, this noble theme of Christmas has been transformed into a commercialized landslide of gift-giving and with that, comes a familiar mountain of DEBT! Analysts calculate that, according to the latest data, Americans will average $1,003 in debt stemming from the holidays (www.magnifymoney.com).

This is not including any previous debt from last year, current bills, or other debt one may have. To think that one or two holidays can add this amount of debt annually, is enough to cause warning and hopefully result in caution. My intention, is to suggest valid ways to battle this growing problem and help you save money during this time. Three major tips that will most likely change the debt game for you is 1. Crafting gifts, 2. Delegating portions of the dinner and finally 3. Choosing which parties and events to attend.

CRAFTING has been trending for almost two years. With the growing popularity of Pinterest and other Do It Yourself (DIY) sites; crafting and/or re-purposing items is a wonderful way to gift. Think about the likes and interests of your family and friends and find quick and easy projects that enable you to create multiple gifts at one time. Forget the old rules about gift giving that states you have to get each person a unique gift. For example, a specific Christmas DIY was the treat-filled slippers. I know for a fact that this gift is a treat for all because I’ve done it for both Mother’s and Father’s Day gift sets. I will purchase packs of small items that can fit inside the slippers and then choose the slippers for each person I’m gifting. I then fill the slippers with one item from each of the packs. I didn’t have to spend a large amount of money or time. Check out Pinterest, Weebly.com, Thespruce.com or Apartmenttherapy.com for gift giving or those lovely holiday decorating ideas.

DELEGATING the cooking is definitely not an easy feat. Can you imagine a grandmother delegating who will make her famous recipes for the holidays? Well, there’s one that has done this and it’s my MOM! Mother Jackie Johnson says, “I have one of my daughters fix the mashed potatoes, because she makes them really creamy, and she was chosen to fry the chicken because she can fry big batches and still make it taste delicious.” Mother Johnson goes on to say, that she elected “pie-fixing to daughter #3 because she is known for making new and exciting cheesecake flavors.” Our family is continuously growing and my mother and oldest sister usually man the kitchen, but with over 40 mouths to feed at times, it can get overwhelming. I’m glad they both realized that the amount of time and money is a team effort. Keep your favorite dish you like to cook and let the rest of the family help out.

CHOOSING which holiday parties, church services, or family events can also ease the strain of spending money and time while participating. If there is a Christmas program and a Christmas Eve service, it’s okay to choose only one to attend. If your family is large and you have to attend several services, members can split up and tackle the multiple programs in groups. Reducing the number of paid events you attend will lighten the load on your pockets. If a friend or organization has a charity event, opt to donate if the price of tickets are high. I’m sure they will appreciate the thoughts and efforts you have offered in lieu of attending.

Don’t let the holidays stress you or your pockets. Remember the traditional reason for the season and steer your family toward saving, rather than creating new debt for a day or two of celebration. Let us all be grateful for what we have and pray that we can start new traditions. This will, in turn, save money and stop the cycle of frivolous spending. God gave us a gift that keeps on giving everyday of our lives, why not follow suit?

Even the Score for Financial Freedom

Proverbs 13:11 reads “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow (NLT).”

Dishonest money dwindles…let that resonate for a little bit. Really think of the words and picture the dollar bills shrinking in size to nothingness. Can you see it? Can you feel the panic at the thought of losing money? Now couple that feeling with the guilt of doing something wrong and you get a good lesson on ethics. It is imperative that finance professionals follow strict ethical rules because money or lack thereof can cloud a lot of decisions. This article will discuss some major cases that have fallen into troubles because of personnel or leadership failing to administer funds properly. There are many excuses for an ethical breakdown but being oblivious to the problem, intentionally ignoring the issue and greed are amongst the most popular explanations to describe unethical individuals.

A popular case in ethics occurred a while ago with Ford Motor Company. In the 70’s, Ford produced its compact car, the pinto. The Pintos were produced with faulty fuel tanks and the problem was actually noticed during pre-production crash tests. According to Harvard Business Review, “…Ford had rushed the Pinto into production. Engineers had discovered the potential danger of ruptured fuel tanks in pre-production crash tests, but the assembly line was ready to go, and the company’s leaders decided to proceed (1).” At first glance, it seems that the leaders were being malicious and scandalous in their approach but maybe their business plan and goals clouded their better judgment. Their poor judgment was the cause of many injuries and deaths before they put out a recall on the product but some argue that it was ignorance more than malice in their decision. The employees stated that when any questions arose the leaders would often tell them to review the business objectives and follow them accordingly. There was no active lobbying against the production with the faulty tanks people just followed the rules and did their jobs. In this case, if ethics were a bigger responsibility within companies instead of an afterthought; lives could have been saved.

There is an uncommon term called “willful blindness” that may be used by an organizational leader. This term refers to the leader knowing about information but “intentionally ignoring” said information. This strategy is often used by leaders in an attempt to gain the greatest profit from something that may be risky business but will keep their intentions pure. For example, Richard Fuld, CEO of Lehman Brothers perfected his commute to and from the office to avoid employees.

Lehman was the fourth-largest investment bank in the United States that filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008. So it’s easy to see why the CEO would want to hide; the company is accused of being involved in excessive risk taking along with allegations of negligence and malfeasance. Leaders of the 150 year old company not only ignored signs that affected the company but some think it help to spark the global financial crisis that happened in the later 2000s. This way of thinking has been deterred because legally an executive of a company can be held accountable for things not known but should have been known to him or her.

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” This passage found in I Timothy 6:10 (NIV) is quoted often but is shortened to “Money is the root of all evil.” That phrase is often thrown around in the wrong context but it’s definitely relevant when talking about greed. It’s simple that leaders of companies often lose sight of ethics in hopes of obtaining more money. One of the biggest corporate scandals was that of Enron. CEO, Jeffrey Skilling, had a way of hiding financial losses and other operations of the company and CFO, Andrew Fastow came up with a plan to show that the company was in great shape. These leaders knew what they were doing and no other explanation is needed other than their greed influenced their decisions. Not only did they hurt the company but their greed affected other investors and employees connected to the Enron empire. The stock began to decrease and the truth of the opening statement happened to them. Their dishonesty caused their monies to dwindle in the blink of an eye.

Financial freedoms and wealth are priority to many and can absolutely become a way of life but we must remember that anything good is worth working for. Use your knowledge and skills to gain the prosperity you deserve but make sure to include ethics in your accounting practices.

Female Financial Freedom

Being a financial guru is not for everyone, but learning the ways of the gifted can increase the likelihood of obtaining financial successes. Money matters rule the world, but few are privileged to gain knowledge for financial growth. One may assume that these matters are handled by men; but there are women who are just as savvy with money. It is no secret that women have had to fight the stigma of being treated unfairly in the work place. From not being able to get certain jobs, to being paid a lesser wage for the same job as their male counterparts. In honor of National Women’s Month (March), this article will applaud prominent women in finance while highlighting proven tips to reach financial goals.

Zaneilia Harris

Zanellia Harris of Harris and Harris Wealth Management Group is a profound financial professional. She created a “financial boutique” that focuses on advising, educating, and supporting professional women and their communities, to build and transfer wealth. Miss Harris is sponsoring a wealth retreat titled “Finance ‘N Stilettos,” that will take place April 27-29 of 2017. Harris feels that the black woman is, oftentimes, the breadwinner in their families but don’t have time to take care of themselves. The retreat is designed to provide a relaxed environment for women while learning about managing their money and investments.

This retreat will allow high achieving, professional women strategize their financial future and become the best, most prepared version of themselves. Participants will meet one-on-one, with a female certified financial planner, to learn strategies on how to make money work for them. While mapping out the ultimate prosperity plan, attendees also have the opportunity to network with other women and take advantage of full body massages, sample exclusive wines, and enjoy luxury shopping. Women in attendance will rejuvenate physically, mentally, as well as financially. More information about this awesome opportunity can be found at http://hhwealth.com/retreats/.

Michelle Singletary

A national syndicated columnist and well renowned author knows her way around financial burdens. Her column, “The Color of Money,” appears in the Washington Post on Sunday and Wednesday. She speaks of learning the importance of wealth from her grandmother who gained several economical wins with an annual salary that never exceeded $13,000. The early teachings of financial responsibility gave Miss Singletary a necessary advantage in the finance world. She is also the author of “The 21 day Financial Fast” that can be found at https://youtu.be/mmswAtbp6sY. The Financial Fast fashioned after the familiar “Daniel” fast is Singletary’s exceptional way of getting people to give up spending on things that aren’t necessary in an attempt to train in money management. Her passion speaks volumes about not only gaining wealth, but gaining it to further the kingdom. Financial successes will assist in helping others and the communities we live in. Singletary is also a media personality as she has appeared on the “Diane Rehm Show,” “Oprah,” “NBC’s Today Show,” “The Early Show on CBS,” “Nightline,” and CNN.

Sallie Krawcheck

Krawcheck, co-founder of Ellevest, “realized the investing industry has been, frankly, “by men, for men” — and has historically kept women from achieving their financial goals (www.ellevest.com). Ellevest is an investment firm built to help women invest based on certain goals and timeframes customizable to their lifestyles and incomes. The website advertises that women can start investing in as little as 15 minutes directly from their cell phones. The site is full of tools and descriptions that will ease women into creating portfolios and taking the leap. There is no minimum deposit and there are several pricing options affordable to women at all income levels.

Women have become the leaders of many households and have the responsibility to provide for their families. The job does not stop there, there are opportunities to drive women beyond providing, and step over into gaining wealth that can be passed down through generations. The way has been paved by the phenomenal women mentioned, but it takes ambition and discipline to follow in their footsteps. Don’t let fear stifle your dreams. Take advantage of the tips provided and put them into action!