Why and How to Set Up a Donor-Advised Fund

Why and How to Set Up a Donor-Advised Fund

Goals / Taking Action, Take Action
One of the most practical tips I learned in law school was from a Wills & Trusts class. No, it wasn’t about how to plan for your death. It was about how to plan for your life, specifically when it comes to donating money. The term I heard in that class, that I had never heard about before, was “donor-advised fund.”   We learned that this was similar to a charitable trust, but with some unique differences.  I don’t know about you, but to me, setting up a charitable trust or anything similar sounded like something only rich people would or should do. However, it turns out you don’t have to be one of the ultra-rich to have a donor advised fund. You can and should set one up. Why Should…
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Starting Over: The Rebirth of Women’s Money

Starting Over: The Rebirth of Women’s Money

Goals / Taking Action
At times, we all need to change direction in life. We have a need to step away from, or pivot to, something new. Sometimes, we pivot back to something we’ve left behind. For me, I’ve pivoted back to something I left behind. In what feels like a former life, I was a writer in the personal finance community for many years. I gave it up when I got too busy with kids and my corporate career.  But I missed it. I missed the opportunity to learn and to give back. I craved the connection and community.  I also had regret. I’ve realized that I often give up too soon on too many things.  My word of the year 2020 has been “Grit.” (Side note: Ironically I chose this word at…
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Money Talks. You Should, Too.

Money Talks. You Should, Too.

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Relationships & Money
I think we can all agree that talking about our finances is uncomfortable, especially if your finances are not in the best health. Fortunately, you  do not need to broach this subject with everyone you meet. However you do need to be able to communicate with your significant other about money, especially in serious relationships. The 2016 Stress in America Report produced by the APA found that 64% of women and 57% of men reported money and family responsibility as one of their most significant stressors. Because money is such a huge source of stress for many people, couples need to talk about it. Ensuring that you and your partner are on the same page with how you spend money and what your individual situations are helps prevent future arguments and…
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The Wonderful World of Robo-Advisors

The Wonderful World of Robo-Advisors

Entrepreneurship / Making Money, Goals / Taking Action, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement
 Investing money is an effective way to grow your wealth, but knowing how to invest and what to invest in can be difficult when starting out. Until recently, the only options for investing were doing it on your own (a rather intimidating prospect for a newbie) or hiring an investment advisor, which comes with its own research burden to find the right advisor. Fortunately, there is now a third option available - using a robo-advisor. Do not let the odd name throw you off, they are actually very helpful tools. A robo-advisor automates the asset allocation of your investments using a computer algorithm. In other words, it is a type of software that acts in place of a traditional investment advisor to help you make investments. Human financial advisors may…
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The Life of an Emotional Shopper

The Life of an Emotional Shopper

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement
Let’s be honest. Spending money is emotional. Finding a “bargain” is very emotionally satisfying, and buying things for loved ones feels good - even when it makes more financial sense not to spend. While it is important to train your rational brain to manage your money, you also need to acknowledge the emotional motivations that drive your spending habits. Understanding why you spend helps guide you to the most effective method for you to change that spending habit. Personally, I have always enjoyed shopping. I love poking around in different stores, finding deals, gifts for friends and family, and little splurge items like candles and nail polish for myself. It was never that I needed those things. Often, I would go the store to buy one or two specific items,…
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Double Your Down Payment Savings

Double Your Down Payment Savings

Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Saving & Investing
Buying a home is a big financial goal, however saving for the down payment can be a major roadblock. There are several different routes to achieving this goal. When the lease on the apartment my boyfriend and I rent was nearing expiration, we considered buying a home. In the process, we discovered a savings program, called a ‘matched savings’ program, to help speed up down payment savings.Matched savings programs are also called Individual Development Accounts (IDA) and are generally offered by nonprofits and/or government agencies in local areas. There are three things these programs can be used to fund.Buying a homeOpening a small businessSaving for college/job training.As you probably gathered from the name, when you enroll in one of these programs every dollar you deposit is matched. Depending on the…
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Healthy Budget Habits

Healthy Budget Habits

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action
So, you use your budget, yet somehow at the end of the month you discover you overspent. We have all been there; it can be hard to remember your budget while shopping. A budget is not a static document that you write and leave alone, but a working and responsive tool for money management. Try these healthy habits and easy to use tools to stay in tune with your budget throughout the month.1. Regular Check-Ins This is one of the best methods to help you stay on track with your working budget and is most effective when paired with a spending tracker. Checking in with your spending and your budget on a regular basis keeps you in-tune with your goals.How often you check in is a preference, but either every…
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Preparing for Unexpected Financial Challenges

Preparing for Unexpected Financial Challenges

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Take Action
I think most of us agree that saving money is important, but are we putting our money where our proverbial mouths are? According to a 2015 survey, 35% of American’s had no savings, and 34% had less than $1,000. This means that 69% of Americans are financial fragile. When life starts throwing curve-balls at them, these individuals and families likely will not have the necessary funds to meet the challenge(s). It also begs the question: “Is just one savings fund enough to meet all my life’s financial challenges?” The answer is not really. If all you have is one savings fund, it is still worth taking pride in. Saving money can be very difficult and any progress you’ve deserves celebration. But don’t stop with one. There are three basic types…
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What are You Saving for?

What are You Saving for?

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Take Action
We all know that saving a little bit of money here and there throughout the month is one of the best strategies for accumulating savings. However, it can be difficult to keep that in mind while you’re shopping, especially if your goal is generalized to “save money”. Using coupons is a popular method for saving money, and can absolutely be an effective way to generate savings. There is a mental trap that many people, myself included, fall into. When you save $3.00 with a coupon, it becomes very tempting to turn around and use that savings on another item. In other words, you feel like you saved money with the coupon, and want to reward yourself.But really, this means that you didn’t save any money. Yes, it stretched farther, but…
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Are the Budget Blues Bringing You Down?

Are the Budget Blues Bringing You Down?

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Take Action
If you’ve followed my writing, I’m sure you’ve noticed several articles on budgeting. Why so many? Because a budget is one of the most valuable tools for understanding, managing, and growing your money. Yet it seems to me that many people break-out in a cold sweat the moment I say “budget”. If the B-word induces anxiety in you to the point you can’t bring yourself to write one, try changing your terminology. A budget is just a plan for how you are going to spend your money, so try calling it a “Spending Plan”. Using a Spending Plan is a small lifestyle adjustment to help you reshape your spending habits. It takes time and practice to write and use Spending Plans that are reasonable and accurate, but as you develop…
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