Tag: financial literacy

Get On Top Of Holiday Expenses

Published in: Resources |

 

Happy holidays! Ok, ok, we know it’s only September. But the holiday season has a sneaky way of creeping up on us – before we know it we’ll be setting ice skating dates and baking cookies for neighbors. It also has a way of sneaking up on our bank accounts. Hey, they don’t call it the most expensive (er, wonderful) time of the year for nothing.

Even with the light at the end of the COVID tunnel getting closer, we’re not out of the woods quite yet, and after the rocky year and a half or so that we’ve had, it makes sense to feel both excited (we might actually get to spend the holidays in person with our friends and families!) and a little nervous (how are we supposed to afford all of those holiday gifts?) Even though the holiday celebrations are a few months out, it might take some of the weight off your shoulders to do a bit of planning ahead of time.

Here are some ideas for creating and sticking to a budget, cutting down on costs, and planning ahead during the upcoming holiday season.

Plan early

Let’s begin with our favorite topic: The Budget. We’re not talking about your gifting budget (we’ll get to that in a moment) but rather your overall budget. Before you even think about the holiday dress you “need” or that perfect gift for your partner, check in with your finances.

Many of us were affected financially by the pandemic and you’re not alone if you’re feeling like pennies are still a bit pinched. Based on your personal cash flow, come up with a reasonable amount of money in total that you are comfortable putting towards holiday related expenses. Be sure to factor in decorations, food, holiday travel, entertaining, gifts, and charitable giving. Because you’re planning early on, you have the advantage of being able to set money aside bit by bit to cover these expenses, making the financial burden feel more manageable.

The holiday gift budget

Now for the gift budget. Start by grabbing a sheet of paper or opening a blank Google doc and writing down the names of each person on your gift list. Next, set a spending limit for each person and write that down next to their name. Now, add up the amounts in the money column. Things add up quickly, don’t they?

If your number seems too high, break down where you could potentially cut back a bit. Instead of buying each of your best friends a $20 gift, you could buy ornaments in bulk and decorate them. Bake cookies instead of buying Starbucks gift cards. Knit your neighbor a scarf.

You could also broach the subject with family members. Chances are, some of them are feeling the same way you are about budgeting for the holidays, and they’d probably be grateful at the idea of a gift exchange or a spending cap.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that it’s the thought that counts. Your friends and family members will appreciate the effort you made, regardless of whether a gift cost $10 or $100.

Cut costs on holiday activities

If your family has a tradition to splurge on a night out to watch the Nutcracker, we’re not going to tell you not to go, but be mindful of using “the holiday season” as an excuse to splurge.

There are also a host of free or inexpensive holiday activities to take advantage of, such as cozy nights in watching festive movies, walking around the neighborhood to take in the twinkle lights, or sledding!

Book your travel early on

The holiday season is one of the busiest and most expensive times to travel during a normal year. Coming off of the pandemic with an increasing number of passengers being fully vaccinated, coupled with countries rolling back border restrictions, it’s safe to say we can expect a travel surge this winter. If you haven’t already, book any travel accommodations as soon as possible. That includes hotels, rental cars, and plane, train, or bus tickets.

Take advantage of your credit card perks

Do you get double the points for every dollar you spend? Do you rack up airline miles? Take advantage by putting holiday expenses on your credit card. Maybe your gift purchases will end up paying for your holiday plane ticket to mom and dad’s!

Bonus tip: steer clear of opening up store credit cards. Especially leading up to the holidays, it seems as though every store at the mall is offering up one gimmick or another to convince you that you need a new credit card. Just say no.

As the holidays approach, get in touch with The Humphreys Group for a second opinion on your financial picture.

Hit Reset On Your Finances This Fall

Published in: Resources |

As children, fall signified more of a beginning than an end. Sure, the days of summer vacation were behind us, but we geared up with new backpacks, too-stiff jeans, sharp colored pencils and granola bars, and headed back to the classroom for another year of learning.

As an adult, your summers of complete freedom are likely long gone, but fall is still a great opportunity to sit back, reflect, and hit the reset button. Here are four of our top tips to reset and refocus on your finances this fall.

  1. Familiarize yourself with your numbers.

Summer can be expensive, from vacations to rooftop brunches to wedding season. Be honest, when was the last time you looked at the books or crunched the numbers? Take the time to review your accounts, go over your summer spending, and revisit your budget.

  1. Set new goals.

New season, new goals. Part of treating fall as a time to reset includes assessing your goals, and maybe creating a few new ones. As you refocus, take note of how you’re feeling, what you want to accomplish, and what it’s going to take to get you there. Do you dream of buying a new car? Are you hoping to take a family vacation over the holidays? Do you want to increase your monthly 401K contribution? Jot those new goals down and set about making them a reality!

  1. Give your savings a name.

Saving up for something can be tricky. On the one hand, you know it’s something you really want or need, but on the other, it can be easy to veer off course. Maybe you’re saving for a down payment on a house, but your best friend is getting married next week. You have all of this money saved up – what harm could it do to dip into a little bit of it for your friend’s wedding gift? And so it goes.

A tip to make saving up for something specific a little bit easier? Give it a name. Most banks allow you to name your accounts, so, using the same example, if you are saving for a home, open a specific account and name it accordingly. It doesn’t matter what you call it, – chez moi, home is where the heart is, down payment – seeing your goal spelled out in front of you each time you make a deposit or a withdrawal is a great way to keep your end game front and center in your mind.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others.

A final tip (which stretches far beyond your finances) is to stop comparing yourself to others. Social media has a way of making us feel inadequate during any month, but especially coming off of a season of seemingly never-ending travels from friends and strangers alike (plates of pasta near the colosseum, yoga retreats in Indonesia, and backpacking trips in Big Sur, we’re looking at you…) it’s easy to feel down on yourself. Instead of a) sulking, or b) buying the first all-inclusive cruise package that flashes across your computer screen, take the time to reflect on everything you did do over the summer. Maybe you didn’t travel to Costa Rica and try surfing, but you did spend quality time with your kids while putting away money for your kitchen remodel. Refocus your intention and shift your perspective.

We understand that everyone handles change differently, and the changing of seasons is no exception. No matter where your focus lies this fall, whether it’s on securing a raise at work, saving up for a summer home, or reaching a financial milestone, The Humphreys Group team is by your side.

 

The Art of Personal Power

Published in: Resources |

What exactly is personal power, you ask?

So often, when we think of power, we think of people who we deem influential; celebrities, authors, politicians, CEOs…

Personal power, however, is different. According to Psychology Today, “personal power is more of an attitude or state of mind than an attempt to maneuver or control others. It is based on competence, vision, positive personal qualities, and service.”

So, what does personal power look like in a person? Well for starters, it might seem quiet. People with intact personal power probably aren’t boasting about it to others, but rather quite the opposite. They are likely people who you view as confident, comfortable in their own skin, respectful and respectable. They don’t need to drag others down to feel good about themself. They might be your neighbor, your boss, your babysitter, your Uber driver…what about you?

You’re probably wondering by now, “how can I attain this mystical personal power?” First, let us make clear that we all have personal power already. Whether or not we’re making the most of it is a different story. Luckily, there are several ways that you can work towards enhancing and strengthening your own personal power. Here are a handful of them.

  1. Do what you want.

Life is too short to get caught up in what you “should be” doing. Instead, do what makes you happy. Of course, from time to time we all have to do things we don’t want to do, but don’t make a habit of living a certain way just because others deem it the right way to live. Maybe that means entertaining a hobby that your spouse finds boring, or eating dessert every now and again just because it tastes good and you want to. Whatever it is, don’t apologize for it, just enjoy it.

  1. Value yourself.

So often, we get wrapped up in what we see as our faults. We beat ourselves up for being too slow at work, too stressed on the weekends, too this, too that. We are constantly holding ourselves to impossibly high standards, and then tearing ourselves down when we don’t reach them. Stop doing that. You are worthy, you are deserving of kindness and love, you are human, you are allowed to make mistakes.

  1. Forgive yourself.

On a similar note, it’s important to forgive yourself. We all mess up, but it doesn’t do anybody any good to hold a grudge, especially if the grudge is against yourself. Learn from your mistakes and try to improve, but be kind to yourself like you would a loved one.

  1. Speak up and communicate effectively.

Communication is powerful. If you care about something, don’t sit back and stay quiet out of fear. Too often, our fear of saying the wrong thing leads us to remain silent. This extends to nonverbal communication, as well. Let your actions reflect your beliefs.

  1. Express yourself.

At The Humphreys Group, we’ll never dissuade you from leaning into your emotions. While conventional wisdom leads us to believe that thinking and feeling are two separate processes guided by different regions of the brain, modern neuroscience research has shown that they are actually highly interconnected, making it nearly impossible to completely disentangle thoughts from feelings. It might make you feel vulnerable, but strength is often born from vulnerability, so allow yourself to feel.

  1. Live your values.

While core values look different for each of us, one thing we all have in common is that when we live our values, we are much more likely to feel aligned, fulfilled and at peace with ourselves, resulting in a stronger sense of personal power.

At the end of the day, personal power is not about controlling others, it’s about building an internal power that acts as your guiding strength as you set out to live the life you want. Reach out to The Humphreys Group if you’d like to learn more about aligning your values, goals and finances in order to fuel your personal power.

Achieve Financial Fitness Before Retirement

Published in: Resources |

Just like achieving a state of physical fitness requires time, dedication and consistency, the same can be said for ‘financial fitness’. And just like with physical fitness, building positive money habits early on increases the likelihood that you’ll thrive later in life from a financial standpoint. Today, we’re breaking down some simple ways women can achieve financial independence before they retire.

Walk before you run

Just like when you start a new workout regimen, it’s important to take small steps in order to reach your ultimate goal. If you were to join a gym with the goal of building strength, you probably wouldn’t immediately walk up to the weight rack and load on the heaviest weights you could find. More likely, you’d reach for smaller weights to begin with. Perhaps each day or each week, you’d increase the weight you were lifting, and after some time, maybe the heaviest weights in the gym would indeed be what you were reaching for. However, building strong financial habits, like building muscle, doesn’t happen overnight.

Start small. Assess your finances. Create a budget. Work to gain a solid understanding of where your money is coming from and how you are spending it. Slow and steady wins the race.

Talk about financial matters

At The Humphreys Group, we maintain our belief that self‐reflection begets self‐knowledge, which in turn boosts self‐confidence. That’s why we both encourage open and authentic conversations about money, and host Conversation Circles that provide an opportunity for women to have honest and judgement-free discussions about all things finance-related. Such conversations lead women to engage more confidently with their financial lives, improve their relationships and feel good about money once and for all.

Take care of your own needs first

You know how airplane safety videos always remind you to put on your own oxygen mask in case of emergency before assisting those around you? That’s because it’s a lot easier to help others when you yourself are clear-headed and have a steady flow of oxygen.

This analogy can be used in any area of life. For example, from a financial standpoint, if you’re putting aside money for your child’s college tuition but you don’t have a retirement account, the stress of the situation will likely trickle out into other areas of your life, causing anxiety and clouding your ability to be the best version of yourself. On the other hand, if you prioritize your retirement account, you’ll likely feel more secure in your finances, which will in turn make it easier for you to think clearly, brainstorm ways to help your child save, and possibly even contribute additional funds yourself.

Bottom line, if you’re not taking care of yourself, it’s a lot more difficult – if not impossible – to successfully take care of those around you.

Work with a financial advisor

From your professional life to your volunteer work, taking care of children or grandchildren, being an active member of your community…we understand that women lead busy lives. And while you may sometimes feel like you’re expected to be Wonder Woman, you’re not. You’re allowed to ask for help. Continue the conversation about achieving financial fitness and ensuring that you’re prepared for retirement by getting in touch with our team.

How To Instill Charitable Values in Children

Published in: Resources |

The sooner parents or guardians of small children begin to teach charitable values, the better. Here are three areas to consider as you get started.

Lead by example

Children tend to look to their parents or guardians to see how they should respond to various situations, so it’s important to demonstrate positive behavior and act as a role model. To effectively lead by example, it’s important to both show and tell. Demonstrate empathy by giving spare change to someone in need, helping an elderly neighbor unload their groceries, picking up canned goods for a food drive, or volunteering to help out at your child’s school. Children should be taught to understand that other people have emotions and feelings just like they do. Openly discussing the concept of empathy, talking about feelings, and teaching self-awareness and respect can all help to establish charitable values.

Teach financial values and literacy

It’s also extremely important to teach children financial literacy, as it will serve as the very foundation of their lifelong relationship with money. Teach them the importance of saving, spending, goal-setting, and giving, as well as the interconnectedness of each category. Learning financial management is a critical first step when it comes to charitable giving. Read our previous blog for some additional tips on teaching your kids about personal finance.

Explore various ways to give back

At The Humphreys Group, we aim to give back through the three Ts; time, talent and treasure. Here are a few ways to exemplify each.

  • Time. Work together at a food kitchen one night per month. Ring bells for Salvation Army over the holidays. Volunteer through a church or a community center. Showing up and spending valuable time for the benefit of others is a great way to demonstrate to your kids that they are a part of a larger community, and that giving back and helping out can benefit that community as a whole.
  • Talent. Another way to give back (and instill the importance of giving back in your kids) is by donating your talent. If you are a lawyer, that could mean doing pro bono work in collaboration with a local charity group. If your child excels at a specific school subject, say, spelling, it could mean encouraging them to go over flashcards with a classmate who is struggling before the next spelling quiz.
  • Treasure. It’s also important to demonstrate the impact of philanthropic donations and help children understand the power of generosity. One way to accomplish this is by breaking their allowance into two categories: spending money and money to donate. Say you give your child $10 per week, with the understanding that $5 of it is to spend as they wish and the other $5 is to put into a box for the charity of their choice. Once they have accumulated $50, sit down together and discuss which charity they want to donate to. Once they have chosen, begin the process again. Not only is this a great way to instill charitable values, but it also teaches your child about various causes and organizations.

Teaching children that there are multiple ways to live their charitable values can open up an array of avenues for them to give back over the course of their lives. If you’d like to continue the conversation, please reach out to The Humphreys Group.

How to Improve Your Financial Literacy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Published in: Resources |

The financial literacy gap between men and women is from structural, systemic and societal inequalities and barriers over time. (One example: It wasn’t until 1974 — with the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act — that women won a legal right to apply for credit cards separate from their husbands.)

Why the Financial Literacy Gap Is So Important

The financial literacy gap — also known as the  “secondary gender wage gap” — is so important because without financial literacy, women can’t build their wealth. They feel less confident being in control of the household finances, and this becomes an even bigger issue when their spouse passes away or if they go through a divorce. Women also may feel less confident about investing in the stock market. And women already earn less than men — without the financial knowledge about investing, they are at even more of a disadvantage.

Other financial hindrances? Women tend to live longer than men, which can make them financially insecure during retirement. Women are also often expected to leave the workforce during their high-earning years to take care of their children or aging parents. The COVID-19 global health and economic crisis, and how it has disproportionately affected women, has further underscored these issues.

Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Financial Literacy

Now that we know what we’re up against and understand why it’s so important to arm ourselves with financial knowledge, what steps can we take that are in our control?

  1. Listen to podcasts and books about personal finance. You don’t have to read a dense tome about finance. Listen or read something that you would enjoy.
  2. Find out what financial wellness programs are available at your workplace. Many employers offer workshops and programs on financial topics, such as understanding your 401(k), health savings accounts (HSAs), and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).
  3. Research financial advisors. As we say at The Humphreys Group, it’s not just about the numbers. Find a financial advisor who you feel comfortable with and can connect with.
  4. Attend a Conversation Circle. The Humphreys Group regularly hosts Conversation Circles where we have authentic conversations about money. Let us know if you’d like to join us at our next one!
  5. Talk about money with your family and friends. We as a society are conditioned to not talk about money. But money affects everything in our lives — why should something so pivotal in our lives be taboo to talk about? Have an honest conversation with your family and/or friends about money. As CNBC Make It suggests, host an event and 1. invite friends who are comfortable around each other, 2. set expectations ahead of time, 3. have topics ready (but let the conversation flow naturally), 4. ask questions, and 5. be open to new perspectives.

Continue the Conversation About Financial Literacy with The Humphreys Group

The Humphreys Group is passionate about empowering women in their finances and giving them the tools and resources they need to succeed. If you’d like to continue the conversation about financial education, reach out to our team today.