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The Financial Hack

MY TWO CENTS 1/27/17-My Resisting Spouse

my-two-cents-copy

QUESTION: I am the CFO of my family (I handle the household bills) and am very good at what I do. The problem is my husband. He never wants to talk about budgeting saying, “Budgeting is for poor people. We are not poor so we don’t need to do it.” I’ve asked what he thinks we should do however, he is extremely adamant about not talking about it, period. How do I get him to budget, or should I just do it without him?

MY TWO CENTS:

It’s always important that couples are on the same page financially. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of marriages fail because of financial reasons, not infidelity as many may think. I was once in a marriage where disagreements regarding finances was a major issue. That coupled with “other” stressors unfortunately led to its demise, but I dare not digress so allow me to make a couple of suggestions:

  1. POSITION: You are the CFO of the family. Hmm. Think about that for a second. Have you declared yourself Chief Financial Officer of the family to your spouse, to extended family members or friends? Some men have extremely fragile egos and regardless of your intent, you declaring yourself Chief Financial Officer of the family may indicate authority over your husband making him feel emasculated. This could result in subconscious resentment towards you. Usually one spouse handles the finances because either one is better at it than the other or one has more time to do so. As petty as it may sound, consider resigning from the position of CFO (or at least from making the reference aloud.)
  2. APPROACH: When are you bringing up the topic of budgeting? Here are a couple of examples of when NOT to approach your husband regarding budgeting: Immediately upon coming home from work and before, during or after a football/basketball/baseball/hockey game etc. Those times will result in immediate “shut down.” After a stressful day at work and/or a long commute home, talking about budgeting is the LAST thing your husband wants to do. Most prefer to decompress and relax. Asking questions on “game day” is definitely out. For many men, game day is their “me time” or “time with the guys” especially if their spouses/partners are not into sports. In this case, do the opposite of what Nike says…. “Just don’t do it.”
  3. INVOLVEMENT: Try breaking the ice by asking your husband what his top three money goals are. Ask him what his plans are for achieving those goals. LISTEN TO HIM. If the mood is positive, introduce how budgeting can help achieve those goals. The key is not to dictate what should be done. Work together. Feedback and communication are important. You are a team. Stress the importance of how a collective effort can produce fruitful results. GOOD LUCK!!!

Wishing you financial prosperity and success in your marriage,

~Andrea L. Coleman, The Financial Hack

 

MY TWO CENTS 1/20/17

QUESTION: My washing machine is on the fritz. The emergency fund that I had established has been depleted due to an unexpected expense last month. I’m scheduled to receive a commission check next month and will use it to pay the credit card bill after charging the washing machine. Is this the right course of action to take?

MY TWO CENTS:

In this scenario, I would say “no” for a couple of reasons:

1) Purchasing a new washing machine is not an absolute necessity in my opinion. An automobile repair for a vehicle that you rely on to get you to work, yes. A washing machine? Not so much. Although inconvenient, a visit to the local laundromat or a friend/relative’s until you have saved the money to purchase the washer IN CASH would be the best route to take. Should another unexpected expense emerge next month, the commission check may have to be used for it thus leaving you with a credit card balance that will accrue finance charges.

2) The issue of the depleted emergency fund should be addressed. I suggest taking the commission check you’ll receive next month to replenish the fund. An essential key to having a healthy emergency fund is being able to replenish it when used. Make sure you can distinguish between what constitutes an emergency and what does not.

3) I believe this scenario is an excellent lesson in delaying self-gratification. We all want what we want when we want it. That’s human nature. Delaying self-gratification develops discipline, so if you intend to be successful at being a better steward of your money, start with delaying self-gratification.

Wishing you prosperity and healthy finances,

Andrea L. Coleman, The Financial Hack

 

THE FINANCIAL HACK IS BACK!!!

Courtesy of giphy.com
I’m back! That’s enough reason for  me to celebrate. 
I can give you a million “excuses” as to why I haven’t posted, but I won’t because I can sum all those excuses up into one word: COMPLACENCY. 

Over my six month hiatus, I remembered a few principles about blogging I should have never abandoned. Allow me to share the most important ones with you.

1. MAINTAINING A BLOG REQUIRES DISCIPLINE: Spending 1-2 hours each day can make the difference between an engaged audience vs an audience who suddenly becomes disinterested.

2. MAINTAINING A BLOG REQUIRES PLANNING: This includes posting on topics relevant to your target audience not just topics that interest the blogger.

3. MAINTAINING A BLOG REQUIRES CONSISTENCY: Committment is doing something even when we don’t feel like it. There’s no other way to say it.

I thank those who gave me their positive feedback as well as constructive criticism and well, just criticism in general. 

Be on the lookout for regular postings, helpful tips and tricks and I’ll be adding “My Two Cents,” a column responding to questions/given scenarios posed to me. 

Posts will be much shorter (please hold your applause,) which should make for a more pleasant reading experience (I’m a Journalism major and a wannabe writer/poet so cut me some slack here). Also look for guest postings.

Weekly Periscope sessions with The GOAL Patrol will resume although I’m indecisive regarding the future of my Facebook page. 

I do look forward to resuming my blog. I’m not ashamed to tell you I’m a little excited. Okay a lot! In the meantime feel free to explore my website and tell me what topics you’d like to discuss. 

Wishing you prosperity and healthy finances in 2017,

~Andrea L. Coleman, The Financial Hack 

HEY!!!! Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @TheFinancialHack

DON’T GIVE UP…JUST KEEP SWIMMING!!!


In light of the upcoming release of Pixar Film’s “Finding Dory,” I sat down this past weekend and re-watched “Finding Nemo” and began to think (because I do that sometimes)  about not giving up and pushing through. The gist of the movie was a father Marlin, a clown fish, who refused to give up looking for his son Nemo, captured by a scuba diver after disobeying him by swimming beyond the reef. Marlin’s quest led him all the way to Australia and along the way, he met some interesting characters one of which was Dory. Dory claimed to have seen the boat that carried Nemo away and she and Marlin gave chase. Marlin followed Dory in one direction, then another, and another, until she couldn’t remember why he was following her to begin with. Dory suffered from short-term memory loss. Can you imagine how frustrating it must have been for Marlin to follow someone who lacked direction? Although Dory wasn’t much help in terms of direction, she was ultimately there for support and encouragement. She kept Marlin on track. When he wanted to quit, turn around and go home, those famous words of hers still resonate with many: “When life gets you down you know what you’ve gotta do?”

🎶JUST KEEP SWIMMING. JUST KEEP SWIMMING.🎶

When you feel like quitting because the obstacles before you seem insurmountable, here are a few tips to keep you on track:

  1. FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER: Make sure your accountability partner is someone who encourages you, not someone who criticizes, judges or tears you down. Your accountability partner is stronger than you in the areas where you are weak. It can be a spouse/partner, a significant other, family member, co-worker, mentor or friend. When you feel like throwing in the towel, there’s nothing like a “Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah” from your accountability partner to get you back on track.
  2. TURN TO YOUR FAITH/MEDITATE: Whether you are deeply spiritual, deeply religious, deeply spiritual and religious or none of the above, turn to your faith. Turn to something. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, staying rooted in or strengthening your faith/what you believe in can help you press on. Deep meditation can also help regain focus and reinforce goals.
  3. EXERCISE: Remember exercising releases endorphins which can alter your mood. Exercising may not be your thing, but find an activity that elevates your heart rate. Cardio is key. A jog or a brisk stroll through your neighborhood can provide the boost you need to jumpstart your dwindling energy. You’d be amazed at how therapeutic opening the blinds, and letting a little sunshine inside your home or stepping outside to breathe in a bit of fresh air makes you feel better.
  4. SOCIALIZE/NETWORK: Your schedule may not always allow you to get out in the mix of others, and you may be a bit of an introvert, but social media can help.  I love the interaction I have with connections I’ve made on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and my new favorite, LinkedIn. No, I’m far from an introvert. I love to read on social media about others reaching their goals/accomplishments, creating new ones or even reading just to escape for a laugh or two. Either way, virtual interaction can be a great motivator.

When I was fulfilling the education requirements for my AFC Certification, I wanted to quit… many times. Overwhelmed with a demanding class schedule, problems on the home front, trying to maintain the update of my social media outlets, and the general pressures of life had me leaning towards giving up. At one point I thought about shirking my way through the semester, barely passing my classes with just the minimum required grade. But in the back of my mind, doing so would have left me disappointed in myself because I knew I could have done better. Determination kept me going. Each time I entertained the idea of quitting, I thought of how far I had come and kept my ultimate goal in mind. Before I knew it,  I was half way through the semester. I kept pressing forward. I kept pressing forward until it was time for final exams and I pulled down A’s in both classes.

So the message here is quite simple. DON’T QUIT! Is it cliché? Of course it is! And as cliché as it is, the message is still effective today as it ever was.
DON’T QUIT!!! KEEP GOING!!!

Andrea Coleman (The Financial Hack) ©2016

 

MOTIVATION MONDAY: Take time for self

The lagoon at the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve was absolutely stunning! Photo Cred: The Financial Hack
Recently, I took a much needed vacation after a grueling semester of what seemed to be endless reading, weekly assignment deadlines, quizzes and exams. One would think returning to school 14 years after receiving an MBA would be a piece of cake but a piece of cake it was not. I was overwhelmed in the beginning but gradually fell into a pattern of keeping my schedule eventually devoting the majority of my weekends to study. Returning to school was a huge sacrifice for me, but one well worth it in the end.

 

I decided months prior, I would travel somewhere, anywhere, because my birthday coincided with the end of the semester and what better way to celebrate Phase 1 of my Accredited Financial Counselor Certification and my birthday than taking a trip. I decided on the Dominican Republic. The history is rich and the beaches are beautiful. What was significant about this trip was I traveled alone, and in doing so, I had time to think, to ponder my life, its direction and my purpose. I can’t do that in the city. Too much “white noise.” The irony of it all was I had to travel out of the country to “find myself.” I know. It sounds cheesy and so cliche’, but it’s the truth.

Look at that smile! Don’t I look happy?
Spending time alone while away allowed me to look deep within. I discovered what I want in life, what truly makes me happy, and the stillness provided much needed direction. Not that I hadn’t pondered these things before, but there’s a certain comfort that comes with walking alone on the beach, the sand between your toes, the crescendo of the breaking waves and the breeze gently caressing your cheek allowing your mind to expand and your thoughts to flow freely. It seemed to be an epiphany, the “Ahh Ha” moment Oprah Winfrey makes mention of. Suddenly everything became clear to me. And then all was calm. I’m confident I returned from my trip not a “different” person, but a “better” person, if that makes any sense.

Obviously, it isn’t necessary to travel out of the country to take time for self, so until you’re in a position to do so, here are a few suggestions that may help:

  1. Consider a “staycay.” Tell your husband/wife (s)he’s on “Mommy/Daddy Duty” for the weekend/day/night or drop the kids off with your mother/mother-in-law and run away from home. Check into a nice local hotel for the weekend in your city or if possible, opt for a change of scenery by driving to a neighboring city. Austin, TX is my “go to” city. No television, no phone. Just you (and room service if possible.)
  2. Create a space in your home free from all distractions. This could be a closet or a small room in your home. Create a tranquil environment with candles and the soothing sounds of soundgarden/spa music. Draw the blinds, close the door, relax, free your mind and find your center.
  3. Meditation/Yoga. I’ve always admired how people are able to close their eyes and block out everything, no matter where they are. It takes serious concentration and mental ability. Yoga is also a great way to a healthy mind, body and spirit.
  4. Appreciate beauty. When was the last time you visited your local arboretum or took a long stroll around the park? Consider a hike at your local reserve. The beauty and appreciation of nature can have extensive healing powers.

Employing some or all of these tips can help you relax, re-center, and recharge. Each requires very little effort or money and is worth your peace of mind. And trust me, when you have peace of mind, you’re free.

~Andrea Coleman (The Financial Hack) ©2016

Follow me on Twitter @IAmCoachAndrea

 

 

Spirit Airlines: A “Spirit Breaker?”

Let me give you the skinny about Spirit Airlines…. From my perspective.

I recently returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic via Spirit Airlines. Yep you read correctly, SPIRIT AIRLINES. The words Spirit Airlines is usually followed by groans, grunts and frowns from many, but I must say, my experience wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. Let me give you the Cliff Note version of “Spirit Airlines for Dummies.”

  1. GET AS MUCH FEEDBACK AS POSSIBLE: If someone is interested in trying out a new restaurant or visiting a particular city/country for example, what do most people do? They ask for feedback. They may ask what is the best hotel stay in a particular city or even the best restaurants. If you value their opinion, you’ll take their advice. My point: Ask questions. Before booking my flight I asked Facebook friends and Twitter associates to provide feedback as to their experience. It was overwhelmingly negative in general, many complaining of flight delays and hidden fees, shoddy service and anything else negative they could think of all of which I took into consideration. I also read several internet reviews. Some were good, some were terrible, and some were really terrible. On the other hand, some were indifferent. They didn’t sing the praises of Spirit Airlines, but they didn’t rip them to shreds either. I considered choosing another airline however, after looking at available flights through my http://www.CheapTickets.com package, no other airline got me to Punta Cana before 10:30pm and I couldn’t risk missing check-in to my hotel. Therefore comma, Spirit Airlines to the rescue!!!
  2. PRINT YOUR BOARDING PASSES IN ADVANCE:  Either do it at home, or pay $10 or more to print them at the airport. No thanks. I can find better ways to use that money. Boarding passes can be pre-printed 24-hours PRIOR to your flight’s departure. Do you prefer a window seat? Be prepared to pay for it. Is an aisle seat  more in line with your personality? The same thing applies.
  3. SAVE $$$ BY JOINING THE “BARE FARE” CLUB:    Now this is where things got a little tricky for me. By joining the “Bare Fare” Club, you pay $59.99 per year to get a discount on any checked luggage. You are only able to board the flight with ONE PERSONAL ITEM (diaper bags, oxygen tanks, etc., notwithstanding.) Keep in mind, you pay less if you pre-check your luggage. When I fly American, Delta, Virgin, Joe Blow Airlines, or whoever, I’m allowed the smallest of the smallest carry on suitcase and a personal item that can fit underneath the seat in front of me. Not on Spirit Airlines. In a nutshell the “Bare Fare” club is no “free” bag, no “free” drink. It’s just your ass plus gas and ONE personal item… POINT BLANK PERIOD. Thirsty? Better get something before you board. Oh, you want peanuts to tide you over? Cough up the dough. Weaning yourself from alcoholic beverages? You’d better have a debit/credit card handy. Now that you know the ins and outs, Welcome. You have now officially  been inducted into the “Bare Fare” Club.
  4. PRE CHECKING BAGS ONLINE SAVES YOU NO ADDITIONAL TIME AT THE AIRPORT: You’d better get to the airport at least TWO HOURS prior to departure. Even though I pre printed my boarding passes and pre-checked my itty-bitty teeny-tiny suitcase online, I thought there would be a dedicated line for the “chosen ones.” Fuh-get about it. I got no preferential treatment and had to wait in line as if I hadn’t spent 30 minutes at home deciding whether or not to join the secret society of the Bare Fare Club. The upside; there were plenty of self service terminals where people pre-printed their boarding passes and were standing in line to hand-off their luggage to the Customer Service Agents. Okay Spirit, I’ll give you a pass for execution. The TSA checkpoint moved fairly quickly as well, so it’s off to the gate. Let’s get to the fun part… “The Plane Boss, THE PLANE!”
  5. THE LEGROOM ISN’T AS BAD AS YOU THINK:  I’m about 5’8 1/2-5’9″ and I still had more than enough room to cross my legs. I can’t speak for the guy that sat behind me on the trip back who decided to give me a nice lower back massage with his knees. If you are 6′ or taller, you may harbor some Spirit Airlines flight resentment afterwards. I never used the almost non-existent tray table which appeared to be the size of my iPad 2 and thank God I sprang for the additional $10-$18 (depending on flight capacity) for a window seat. I would have been miserable had I not. I didn’t miss much because I make it a point to pop my Dramamine 30min prior to my flight, Beats headphones in and it’s Good Night Nurse until our flight descent. The flight was on time as scheduled, but hey, when 6am is probably you’re first flight out, how can you not be on time?

My return trip wasn’t so good. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. I pre-printed my boarding passes and I discovered there IS an Airport God… at least in Punta Cana. There was a line dedicated for the Bare Fare Club “chosen ones” to check their bags. Here’s where the fun starts. The flight was scheduled to leave at 1:37pm and boarding was to begin at 12:52.The plane came in and sat there looking at me and the rest of the passengers in all of its splendor and glory for another 1 1/2 hours.


At 1:30, Spirit reps allowed us to start lining up to board. Guess who was first in line. I offered to let a lady and her friend get in front of me because they had a young child but I should have rethought that idea once the child awakened and refused to stop screaming. 

Enter foreshadowing. We finally took off at 2:45pm and much to everyone’s dismay that innocent sweet-looking child screamed from Punta Cana all the way to Ft. Lauderdale. Beats headphones really do cancel outside noise.

To make a long story short (too late) the connecting flight to Dallas was delayed 1 1/2 hours. The delay now puts me in Dallas at midnight instead of 10:30pm and for some odd reason I thought it would be a good idea to go to the office the next day. Ten o’clock is nearing as we quickly shuffle on board and upon takeoff right on cue, that cute innocent screaming child commences Act II. Man, I swear those Beats headphones really were worth the money I didn’t spend on them. Good Night Nurse!!! But just like the Ginsu Knife commercial, you get a free set of 20 steak knives just for flying Spirit. We land at 12:15am, deplane and everyone is looking like Charles Manson at the luggage carousel for an additional 30min waiting on our luggage. This cannot possibly be happening. It was. I finally snatch my teeny-tiny itty bitty suitcase from the carousel and my Spirit Airlines Experience was over. It wasn’t sexy or glamorous. Just over.

So after all of that story-telling, the burning question you’re wondering is “Would I fly Spirit Airlines again?” The short answer is “Yes.” I didn’t experience anything I haven’t experienced on any other airline (aside from the bag fees) but I’ve learned to pack light. Spirit Airlines I believe is good for a weekend getaway where everything you need will fit neatly into ONE small carry-on suitcase. I suggest taking early flight to avoid delays, buy snacks at the airport, and if travelling with small children, find a way to tranquilize them before boarding. Oh never mind, Just buy a pair of Beats headphones. They make EVERYTHING better. Oh, And that $50 voucher Spirit Airlines emailed me for my inconvenience the very next day didn’t hurt either. I’m headed to Miami after Labor Day. HAPPY TRAVELS!

Do you have a Spirit Airlines story to tell? Leave your comments below.

~The Financial Hack ©2016

 

THE FOUR MONEY BEARS.. DO YOU KNOW WHO THEY ARE?

bears

THE FOUR MONEY BEARS by Mac Gardner, CFP®, CRPS®, CRPC® is a “must have” book to introduce young children to the concept of money and how to use it wisely. Simplistic yet succinct, I highly recommend it. This book would make a great addition to your local school/public libraries. I’ll be speaking with DeSoto School Board Trustees for book approval, even if I have to purchase them myself. Purchase this book for your little ones or anyone you believe can benefit from it. (Available on Amazon.)

~Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs)

Andrea L. Coleman (The Financial Hack) 2016
Helping Hand Financial Counseling Ministries