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8 Key Metrics to Assess Your Financial Well-Being

8 Key Metrics to Assess Your Financial Well-Being

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Last week I wrote about seven frameworks to analyze your entire life and overall well-being. But what if you’re not interested in your overall well-being and just want personal finance specific frameworks?   You're in luck. We have some metrics you can use to assess your financial well-being. Metrics to Assess Your Financial Health Below are the best ways to think about your personal finances. You can analyze, track, and assess your financial health and wellness with these metrics. Run the numbers, and see how you are doing. 1. Income and Expenses The simplest framework for understanding your monthly and yearly finances is to understand your income and your expenses. To put together this list, simply put your income in one spreadsheet (or column of a spreadsheet) and your expenses for that…
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12 Best Questions About Money and Happiness

12 Best Questions About Money and Happiness

Goals / Taking Action
As you continue to use the month of December to reflect, think about how money can be used as a tool to improve your life and increase your overall happiness. Below is a list of the best questions to ask yourself as you think about your money and your life. I encourage you to print this list and spend some time writing your answer to each one.  When were you the happiest or filled with the most joy in the last week?When were you the happiest or filled with the most joy in the last year?If you had to give away all of your money to one charitable cause, what would it be?What is something you do in any given day/week/month that you like the least?When have you felt like…
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Choose a Word of the Year for You or Your Family

Choose a Word of the Year for You or Your Family

Goals / Taking Action
As you think about what you want to focus on next year, what jumps out at you as something you'll need to help you succeed? This isn't something tangible, but is actually the intangible.  Are there skills, traits, or values that will inspire or assist you in your areas of focus? What went well this year that you want to build on? Where do you really want to pivot and move forward? Set a Word of the Year Many people set a personal word of the year.   In our home, we set a family word of the year. Three years ago our word was “courage.” Last year, the word was “grit.” My 9-year-old son recently announced that he had come up with our family word of the year on his own. Our…
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7 Insightful Frameworks to Analyze Your Life

7 Insightful Frameworks to Analyze Your Life

Goals / Taking Action
As you begin planning for 2021, it’s helpful to have a framework. A framework offers a structure that helps you think about and organize your life and well-being as a whole. But what are some options for wellness frameworks that can help you get 2021 off on the right foot? I’ve outlined seven of my favorite frameworks to help you analyze your life. Frameworks to Empower You in 2021 Whether you get your framework from a book, life coach, or website, there are plenty of choices that can help you organize your life. These options are worth checking out. Power of Full Engagement The Power of Full Engagement was one of the most impactful books I’ve read about managing energy and wellness.  In the book, the authors show that in…
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Make Ready December — Prepare, Work, Recover

Make Ready December — Prepare, Work, Recover

Goals / Taking Action, Uncategorized
December is the ultimate month of preparations. In a normal year, we spend time and effort getting ready for the holidays and the new year. We make cookies, throw holiday parties, send cards, and attend gatherings with friends and family. For those who celebrate Christmas, nearly the entire month of December is spent in a dizzying display of preparations. In fact, the season of Advent is considered to be the season of “preparation” or “expectant waiting.” We also use December as a month to wind down the current year and get ready for the coming year. Most of us don’t wake up on New Year’s Day and spontaneously have a resolution the moment we open our eyes. Rather, we use the month of December to start to think about what…
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What We Learned from Giving Away Money Every Day in November

What We Learned from Giving Away Money Every Day in November

Giving
We started out November with the idea that our family would give away $100 every day to a different nonprofit. We encouraged you, our community of readers, to also spend this month focusing on donating money, time, things, or even just your thanks.  So what did we learn from this experience? There are opportunities everywhere to give. Early in the month, I wondered if we would spend a lot of time as a family researching different charities to support. I also questioned if we would need to brainstorm different types of organizations to involve our kids in the process. We learned that it doesn’t need to be that complicated since there are opportunities everywhere to give.  But you don’t always see them. While opportunities to give are everywhere, sometimes they…
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The Employer Match: How Charitable Giving is Like Your 401k

The Employer Match: How Charitable Giving is Like Your 401k

Giving
A common piece of personal finance advice is to “take free money. Even if you can’t do anything else, contribute to your 401k enough to get a company match.” Many employers will match up to a certain percentage of your salary (usually 3-5%) as an additional contribution to your 401k. For example, let's say you are earning $50,000/year and the match is 5%. When you contribute (tax-deductible) to your 401k of $2,500, your company will also put in $2,500.   If you don’t contribute, you are missing out on free money. Surprisingly, the same holds true for donations to charity. A less common piece of financial advice, but more important than ever during years like 2020, is this: find out if your employer will match your charitable donations so you can…
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Virtual Volunteering: 13 Ways to Volunteer Online

Virtual Volunteering: 13 Ways to Volunteer Online

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During Giving November, we’ve been focused on ways to be grateful and give back by giving away your money, your stuff, and even your time.   Organizations need volunteers now more than ever. But, due to COVID-19, many people either aren’t able or willing to volunteer. Furthermore, some organizations can’t accept traditional volunteers.  So how can you make a difference without donating money or volunteering in person? The answer is virtual volunteering. How to Volunteer Online There are many organizations with online volunteer opportunities. But how can you find opportunities? Here are 13 ways you can volunteer online. Call or Email Local Organizations Many nonprofits are still trying to figure out how to move traditional volunteering opportunities to remote volunteer work. Some organizations were able to pivot quickly during COVID-19. Others…
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5 Unexpected Benefits of Giving Away Stuff

5 Unexpected Benefits of Giving Away Stuff

Giving, Take Action
During Giving November, we aren’t just focused on giving away money. The month is also about giving away our time, our skills, and our stuff.  Whether it’s gently used or toys, clothes, books, or even furniture, here are five unexpected benefits of donating things to charity.  1. You Will Feel Lighter Before we were all glued to Marie Kondo’s Netflix Special, “Tidying Up," Gretchen Rubin was writing about the benefits of having an empty shelf.   When you give away your things, you feel lighter and less weighed down.  2. You Gain a Sense of Control Similar to the weight that is metaphorically lifted when you give away your things, decluttering provides a sense of control. Even doing just one small thing on your checklist will empower you to take…
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Set Up Automatic Monthly Donations to Charity

Set Up Automatic Monthly Donations to Charity

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At the end of the year do you pull out your checkbook and start writing checks to numerous charities? That's what I used to do. Every year just before Thanksgiving the appeals start rolling in - to my inbox, mailbox, and even (in non-COVID years) directly by knocks at my door. (Which always makes me feel especially bad because in November in Minnesota it's not exactly warm.) With all of these organizations asking for money my spouse and I sit down with a list of nonprofits we care about and make donations to each one. While this giving certainly gets me in the holiday spirit, and the gratitude makes me feel a lot happier, it's not the best thing to do for the charity or my wallet. This week I…
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