Featured Future Planning and Financial Planning Articles

Here are a few of the great articles about future planning and financial planning that were posted today:

Are You Ready for Your Financial Future?

This is an important subject for everyone — not just women. However, there are some aspects of planning for a financial future that seem to hit women especially hard. Here are some things to consider as you build your own future

Read more at Planting Money Seeds.

Prepare for the Future by Owning Your Past

As an undergrad, I majored in History, so it should not be surprising that I am a firm believer in knowing where you have been. When it comes to personal finances, I think understanding your past is the key to planning a successful future.

Read more at The Dog Ate My Wallet

How to Accomplish More in 24 Hours

Among financial bloggers, this has been designated Women’s Money Week. I don’t usually think about finances and economics in a gender-specific ways, but coincidentally, last week I happened to be reading a book called Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry.

The author, Helaine Olen, devotes a chapter to the way the financial industry treats women, and reading it left me in a roil of righteous indignation.

Read more at Pocketmint

How to Take Control of Your Financial Future

Finding specific ways to take control of your financial future is what Women's Money Week 2013 has been all about. But more generally, what do you need to do to be happy now and at the same time plan for the future? Here are 4 steps to help you take control of your financial future.

1. Know Yourself and Your Limits

Not everyone is a personal finance geek. And even personal finance geeks have limits. Some people know a lot about investing, some are on top of the best retirement strategies, some are coupon queens. Know which areas of finance you like which you shy away from. Being aware of your own limits is the best thing you can do for your future.

2. Learn the Basics (No Matter What)

Knowing that you don't know (and won't know) everything doesn't give you an excuse to not do anything. It's important to have a baseline knowledge of a broad range of financial topics. I recommend hitting your local library and browsing through the personal finance, retirement, and investing books. Choose ones that you might not normally check-out and at least start the book. Even if you don't finish it you'll have a wider scope of what is available.

3. Know When to Ask for Help

At some point everyone needs help. In fact, most regular people probably wait too long before asking for help. Think about the experts you know - lawyers, doctors, engineers - these people almost always consult another professional when they are having a problem in their own profession. They know the consequences if you don't get it right. In your own finances it's important to get a certified financial planner early on, so that you have a plan that you can continue building on.

4. Stay Informed

Part of what contributed to the devastation people saw during the crash of 2008 was because people were paying too close of attention to the news. People panicked and pulled their money from the markets, causing even more panic, and greater loss (long term) for those individuals. You don't want to pay such close attention that you are checking your accounts everyday. That's not healthy.

But you do still need to stay informed. The means having a general sense of what's going on in the broader economy, but also knowing what's happening with your personal finances. If you're not already, start having monthly sessions where you examine your income, expenses, and check the balance of your accounts. If you have set specific goals - whether to pay off debt or to save for certain items - keep a spreadsheet to track your progress.

You should also keep up on the world of personal finance - if only generally. Taking an interest in the broader sphere of personal finance will keep you motivated when things get tough and will provide insight and tips that you might not otherwise think of. Follow some personal finance bloggers (start with any of the blogs participating in this week and read from there) or buy a personal finance book or two.

If you're not already a subscriber to Women's Money Week, sign up now. We'll be back with our weekly tips next week. And be sure to also read Moneycrush, Jackie's blog.

Future Planning and Financial Planning

Today is International Women's Day and the last day of Women's Money Week 2013. (In the US this day often gets overlooked, but around the world it's actually a fairly major holiday). Take the time to celebrate by reading the articles from today about future planning and financial planning, as well as reading the rest of the articles from the week.

Featured "Happiness, Hobbies, and Money" Articles

It's time to highlight some of the awesome articles about happiness, hobbies, & money that went live today:

Can Money Buy You Happiness?

Can money buy you happiness? Think about it - if in general you are an unhappy person, but tomorrow you won the LottoMax jackpot of $30 million dollars (tax free) would you suddenly become a happy person? Initially I think many people would.

But it goes along the same lines as when a person that is heavy says “I will be happy when I lose 50 pounds” or whatever they want to lose. Again, you may feel happy the first few days, but how long will it last?

Read more at Tackling Our Debt.

7 Lifelong Hobbies You Can Enjoy On a Budget

When we first started paying off our debt, we really reined in any spending in the entertainment category.

At first, it felt like all we were doing was saying “No” and depriving ourselves. And then we realized that there were so many things we could do for fun that didn’t cost much money at all. I started paying attention to what the seniors were doing in my community. Not only were they participating in low-cost things, they were enjoying those hobbies well into their 80s. Some of them were even turning those hobbies into extra cash.

Northern Cheapskate.

Frugal Activities that Make Us Happy

What makes you happy? Do you feel like you have to spend money to be happy? What about your family and friends, do they think they can only be happy spending money? My kids are still really little (3.5 years old, and 1.5 years old), and luckily, it doesn’t take much to make them happy. And for the most part, my husband and I don’t have to spend money to be happy either. Here are some fun activities we do that make us happy, and don’t cost a lot of money.

Read more at Not a Coupon Queen.

Happiness, Hobbies, and Money

Want to be happier or have more money to enjoy your hobbies? Check out the posts today:

How to Create a Plan to Maximize Your Happiness

I've been on a kick this year reading what I like to call "personal improvement" books. They aren't "self help" books in the sense that there's a problem about my life that I'd like to solve. Rather, I'm just looking to grow and improve. A few examples of these books include: The Power of Habit, The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, All the Money in the World, and The Power of Full Engagement (a re-read). Based on my reading, reflection, and personal experience I've come up with a fairly simple plan to maximize your happiness.

1. Give Yourself Time and Space to Think

You're not going to be able to create your happiness plan in bits and spurts of time. Ideally you would block off several hours or a half of a day with absolutely no distractions - no phones no computer, no other people. Feel free to do something that's relaxing and fairly mindless like bathing, sitting outside, etc. You don't just have to sit at your dining room table to make your plan. But you'll want two sizable chunks of free time to reflect and plan.

2. Make a List of Your Favorite Memories

Think back on your life and make a list of all of your favorite memories. Write them down. The list can be as long as you want - try to shoot for at least 50 or 100 things. And be specific. Don't just write: "vacation to Ireland." Instead try, "spending time driving through the Irish countryside, listening to Irish pop radio, talking with my spouse." Don't be afraid to list anything even if it seems silly, insignificant, or small, like: "sneaking a pizza, cheesecake, and flask of vodka into the movie Mean Girls with my best friend."

There are different approaches to making the list. You can you start by just listing whatever comes to mind. Or you can try to think of memories reverse-chronologically. You can try to remember by categories like: vacations, family time, traditions, major life events, dining, kids, sports, hobbies, nature, work, school, etc. If you're feeling stuck go back and look through some photo albums.

3. Make a List of Your Goals, Hobbies, and Dreams

Next, start a new list. List the things you'd like to do, experience, buy, or accomplish in your lifetime. Again, the list should be long -- at least 50 to 100, specific goals, hobbies, dreams.  Include even seemingly trivial, outlandish, or practical things. You can make the list categorically, chronologically, or completely randomly.

4. Step Away from the Lists

Give yourself a few days or a week to think about the lists you've made. Over time, add anything additional that comes to mind. (This is an important step . When I made my happiness plan there were a number of things I remembered that I couldn't believe I had forgotten in the first place.)

5. Find Themes and Quantify

This is where you'll need your second block of uninterrupted time. Look through your list and try to find themes in your happy memories and your dreams/goals. Maybe family trips are important to you or dining out  or being outdoors or spending time with certain people. Do your best to break down everything you've written into about 10 themes/categories.

Now quantify those themes. How much (very approximately) do they cost? Vacations might be $5000 a year. Dining out might be $40 a time. Spending time in your backyard is free (but requires a house with a backyard.) How often do you want to be able to do these things (keeping in mind that if you do something too frequently the novelty wears off)?

Add up the total cost for a year for your happiness themes. I recommend first totaling the cost by theme before totaling the cost for all themes for the entire year. Divide the total amount by paycheck and see how much doing or buying all of these things would cost you.

6. Plan and Seek Opportunities to Grow

Once you have a total amount by paycheck that you would need to fund all of your happiness themes, find a way to start saving or allocating a little more from each paycheck towards your happiness themes. You probably just want to tackle 1 to 3 themes at a time. If the amount of money you need seems exceptionally unachievable, start with themes that require fewer resources that you can do more frequently. (Such as going out to a meal with friends or taking a weekend getaway.)

Change your habits to be able to do more of and spend more on the things that make you happier. The key is not necessarily to actually earn enough to fund all of your happiness theme buckets. Happiness comes from not just doing the activities you want to do or buying the things you want to buy, but from striving to achieve these goals. Growing and stretching your limits is a key to happiness.

Continue to come back to, review, and revise your happiness plan on occasion. Because growth is a key to happiness, monthly or every-other month review of your plan will likely bring you the greatest satisfaction.

Photo credit: sedoglia

Featured Family & Money Posts

Here are a few of the many great posts about family and money that were posted today:

Yearly Expenses for a Family of Five

How much does it cost to support a family? Well it’s different for everyone! But to help you figure out what’s right for your family I thought I would share our yearly expenses for a family of five for the past 2 years.

Read more at Money Master Mom.

Don't Let High School Keepsakes Eat Your Budget

The cost of high school keepsakes such as studio photos, class rings and varsity jackets usually results in sticker shock on behalf of parents, followed up by “Who needs all that stuff anyway?”

I don’t think one should dismiss traditional high school keepsakes, even if you are surprised at the cost. The discussion to have as a family is which memorabilia your student is actually interested in, and then how to make it happen.

Read more at Monroe on a Budget.

Tired of Fighting About Money?

Money fights can cause huge issues in a marriage — especially if they’re an ongoing thing. The fights come in many different forms: how much one person spends, what they buy, where the money is going to come from, employment status, and of course the biggie: debt. So if you’re tired of fighting about money, what do you do?

Read more at MoneyCrush.

Shielding Children from Financial Struggles as a Single Mom

I am not even one year into single motherhood and although I have already experienced a wide range of emotions and frustrations, I know my journey has just begun. My number one goal is and always will be to look out for the best of interests of my daughters.

Read more at Single Moms Income.

Family and Money

Today's posts are all about family and money. Check them out below: