Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What's the first thing you saved for?

Welcome to the Finance Gym Action Plan for a Better Life with Money Video Series. My name's Stacey Powell, and if you're ready to not just know better, but do better, you've come to the right place.

And today I'm going to get a little real and tell a couple of stories about myself. Today we're gonna be talking about savings. It's the third chapter in the book, and it's not called savings, it's called, "Building Peace of Mind". Because I've come to believe that that is what savings does for people, and it's certainly what savings has done for me.

In the first part of the book, I ask you to think about the first thing that you ever saved for. I love hearing those stories from people. A lot of times it's saving in a piggy bank and some little thing that you bought when you were 5 years old. Or maybe as a teenager, your first car.

I'm quite sure that my parents at some point "taught" me how to save or told me that I should, I honestly don 't remember. And when I think about the first thing I ever saved for I can't think of a single thing as a kid, a child, a teenager that I saved for.

In telling the story of the first thing that I saved for, it's a little bit embarrassing actually because I was pretty old. I'd already graduated from college. I already had a really good professional career. And I had never really saved for something that I wanted to buy.

So I did, like I've mentioned before, something that I was told to do, that I kinda thought maybe was a little bit ridiculous.  I started setting small amounts of money aside for things. And one of the things that I started setting aside for was something that I'd always wanted and that was a really, really nice Native American flute.

Now we're not talking about anything worth a couple thousand dollars here, but we're it wasn't a cheap $50 flute either. It was in the low hundreds and at the time to me setting aside that money just felt irresponsible. I had a lot of other important obligations that I was trying to meet. So I took an amount of money. First it was $5 then it was $20. And I put it in this little envelope every single month, the cash, I got the cash, and I put it in this envelope until I had saved enough to buy it.

I could have bought it at any other point in time by just doing the machinations that I had been doing, really, my entire adult life. But it was, it was the action of saving for that and the gratitude of going out and searching for just the right flute that I wanted. It was that whole experience; I just hadn't done it before. You know, and I should have done it when I was 5. I should have done it when I was a teenager. I should have at least done it in my 20's. But that just wasn't my reality. I had never done it before. So when I was practicing, it felt kinda silly.

But we all have to learn to ride a bike somehow. If we don't learn to do it as a child, then we've got to learn to do it as an adult. So when you get to that question in the book or that question in the video, "What's the first thing you remember saving for?", if you can't remember saving for something, then I want you to do what I did. Because I learned something really important. It wasn't about the flute, because jump ahead years later, I have so many savings accounts. For prudent reserves, for vacations, for taxes, for all kinds of stuff, fun stuff.

I am now a savings master. And I think it's fun. And it all started with what felt like a silly little tiny itty bitty exercise. But in the end, it's what I needed to do. In some areas, I needed to just dial back and start again. And so for those of you that need to do that too, go do that.

Because the rest of the chapter we're going to talk about all kinds of savings. And it's kinda masters level savings that I'm going to be talking about, and I want you to be ready.

And as always I don't want you to do it alone. This stuff isn't necessarily meant to be done alone, head on over to Facebook and join our Team Do Better Group or sign up for our newsletter at or subscribe to our subscribe to our YouTube channel. And join us in learning how to build peace in our lives through savings. Thanks for watching.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Zero-Based Budgeting - Building a Budget from the Ground Up

Welcome to the Finance Gym Action Plan for a Better Life with money. My name's Stacey Powell, and if you're ready to not just know better, but to do better with your money, then you've come to the right place.

The latest series of videos we've been doing is focusing on budgeting and today we're going to talk about zero based budget ideas.

I'm assuming a whole bunch of you that are watching these videos are probably having a little bit of a hard time shoving it all in to make it make sense.

I know that's where I was when I started out. Actually, it kinda still is where I am, it's just that the things I'm trying to shove in now are so much better than what I was trying to shove in years ago.

So zero-based budgeting ... have you ever heard of it before? We don't really talk about it with personal budgets, but in business zero-based budget, the concept is every year departments that roll up into a company-wide budget start fresh and look at what areas do they need to spend money on, how much do they need to have in office supplies, human resource expenses, what kind of marketing budget do they need. And it's really useful to just start fresh like that instead of just pull from last year and the year before and the year before that, (which is kind of how governments do it.)

Because what happens then is that you're spending money on things you think you have to spend money on. But if you start with a zero based concept, like what would your budget look like if none of the other things in your life, that were there last year had to roll into the next year?

And it's kind of a refreshing way of looking at it. Because it helps you think about, well, what if I lived in a different kind of house? What if I didn't have a car? What if I had a different kind of car? What if I decided I didn't need cable? There's a million what ifs.

So, if you turn to page 40 in the book, there's this the zero-based budget idea here that you can start to write down some things you might do to make your budget balance to 0 when you're done with it.

And I might have mentioned some crazy things like, what if you just stopped driving a car ... how much money would that save? When I encourage people to do "what ifs", it's not about jumping immediately and saying "oh my God, I could never do that, I could never sell my house, I could never not have a car, I could never, I could never, I could never. We all have a bunch of those. It's really about just throwing out a bunch of brainstorming ideas.

Look at the possibilities and see what you're  willing to have stick. If you're the person that absolutely has to have a car, well that's fine. But if your budget isn't balancing, somewhere you're going to have to make some kind of choices.

I always like to give an example of Waren Buffet. He can live anywhere he wanted. He can live in any house he wanted. Waren Buffet and his wife and family have lived in the same suburban ranch house for decades.

He values living in that house. He doesn't need to spend a ton of money on a really big home. We get so tied into the things we had to do. I had a client once who, she had such high credit card payments. She could not fathom when I asked, "What would happen if you just stopped paying those?". She just couldn't fathom it.

You know the truth is, she needed to stop paying them for awhile. And she went through a bunch of machinations of getting beyond that with her budget. To the point that she's flourishing now. She is back in integrity. But the truth was that her credit card payments were more than her mortgage. She couldn't do it. She had to let go of a whole lot of things to get to where she is now. Which is a pretty happy, healthy budget.

And she got there by taking a hard look at zero based budgeting. So I'd like you to look at this. I'd like you to just throw caution to the wind, write down a bunch of crazy ideas and pick a few that you think will really stick, that you're really willing to live with for awhile.

And as always I don't want you to have to do this alone. Over on Facebook, we have a private group called Team Do Better. There's a bunch of other people that are working on doing better with their money. Come join us. We also have a newsletter that comes out at least once a week at is where you can sign up. And over on YouTube. Head over there and subscribe to our channel. Have a great day and thanks for watching.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Cold Hard Facts of Budgeting Your Money

Welcome to the Finance Gym Action Plan for a Better Life with Money video series. My name's Stacey Powell and if you're ready to not just know better about your money, but also do better then you've come to the right place.

And today we're going to be talking about the cold hard facts of budgeting.

If you've been following along in the series, hopefully, you first listened to a little bit more of the fun videos around budgeting; ways to kinda get around it a little easier, ways to be more inspired about it.

And today we're talking about rolling up your sleeves and just doing it. And if you've really never embraced budgeting before, I'm not going to lie to you, it's a little bit of work. But I promise you I've made as simple as possible, and I also promise you, you can do it.

So here's the thing, if you go to page 36 in the book, that's where you're going to find the action plan. And there some very obvious things in there like electricity, car insurance, all the obvious stuff. But what you're going to find around all that is almost 100 spending areas. And I worked really hard to make it as few as possible, but the reality is when you look at all of the things most of us spend money on in a given month, in a given year or over a given 5 year period, easily it's around 80 to 100. And so you really need to take a look at all of them.

There's a multitude of areas that we spend money in. And we all know the obvious ones right, like duh, we all have electricity and all that. But then there's the ones that we don't. Kinda the quiet areas that are a surprise, like root canals and car repairs and summer camps. You know, but the truth is if you have teeth you're eventually probably going to have a root canal or some kind of expensive dental expense. If you have a car, you're going to have a car repair. Sometimes it's $200; you can squeeze that in a month no problem. But sometimes it's $2000, that's a lot harder to squeeze. And if you have kids ... Well don't even get me started on the summer camps and everything else that comes along with having kids that we don't need to spend in a given month, but oh my gosh, stuff comes up. Am I right?

So here's the importance of budgeting ... If you don't set your financial flow up to be able to handle that $1000 root canal or that $2000 car expense then you're going to be stealing from your future. You can pull a credit card out when it happens, sure, but you're going to be spending money on interest. You're stealing from your future every time you do that.

You can also just kinda shove it into the month you know; that's what I did a lot. Well, I just won't go out to eat this month. I won't have any fun this month. I'll spend less money at the grocery store.

That's no big deal to do that in a given month. But if you do that to yourself over and over and over. It's a different kind of stealing from yourself. It's kinda stealing from your happiness. It's stealing from where it is that the flow of energy of money that really keeps us happy.

The other thing that I think we often do is, we don't put money in our savings, and that is really stealing from our future.

When we are trying to shove "emergency expenses" that we probably should have had set aside ready to roll. We are not doing the things that create for us a peaceful financial life ... having enough in reserves, having enough in retirement.

The end result, in my experience, in my own personal experience and in lots of people I've worked with is; disappointment, fatigue and just even the loss of faith in ourselves that we can have a peaceful financial life.

So I'd like you to attack this budgeting with a bit of fervor. I want you to set aside a couple of hours. Sit down with a glass of wine or a nice cup of coffee and really embrace doing this. I think in the end you're going to find out that this work is really worth it.

And as always I don't want you to do this alone. Join us over on our Facebook Group, Team Do Better. It's closed and private. I'd really like to see you there.  You can also sign up to our newsletter at Or subscribe to our YouTube video series. Good luck out there and thank's for watching.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Budgeting Should Start With Dreams and Goals

Welcome to the Finance Gym Action Plan for a Better Life with Money Video Series. My name's Stacey Powell, and if you're ready to not just know better but do better with your money, you've come to the right place.

Today we're going to talk about budgeting, but probably not the kind of budgeting you've ever heard about before. We're going to talk about starting your budgeting with dreams and goals.

I love budgeting. As an accountant, I've done budgeting forever. With other people's money, with other business owners money, lots and lots with my own. It's kinda second nature for me. And it's fun and something I'm really good at.

But back when I was really, really, really struggling with my money and asking other people for help. I was told to do something with my budgeting that seemed absolutely ridiculous to me. I was told to put together an ideal budget. Which I thought was the most ridiculous idea in the whole world. I was just struggling to pay my electricity bill every month, haveing enough money for the absolute necessities. And they wanted me to put together an ideal budget? Like what good was that gonna do?

But if there's one thing I am, it's compliant, and when I'm being coached in an area, I will do what I'm told even if I think I'm smarter than the person coaching me.

So that's what I did. Sat down and put together an ideal budget. Which meant I was budgeting for stuff that I had never budgeted before ... vacations, reserves. I specifically remember getting into an argument about concerts. It's not that I don't like music, I do. But it seemed to me at the time really irresponsible for me to be setting aside money to go to concerts when I wasn't keeping up with my obligations that I already had.

But their point to me was, just do it. Put your ideal life down. Put down what it is you want to be living with. And so I did, you know, and they were right. I like going to concerts.

And there was a lot of other things that I wanted in there. Disneyland went in there. I hadn't taken my daughter to Disneyland for years. And you know, not that you can raise a kid, and it's going to be the end of the world if they don't get to go to Disneyland. But I live in California, it's kind of important, right? And why wouldn't I be, why wouldn't that be a part of my spending plan.

You know what I learned about that ideal plan. The epiphany that I had was that when we create these budgets around our actual expenses, our actual obligations, it's all about constriction and fitting in what we have to do and nothing about our future, our dreams, our goals. When I had this ideal budget sitting there, that was way out of what I was able to do at the time, a couple of different things happened to me...

1. It made me realize I was not living the life I wanted to live. And there was no amount of tightening my budget anymore. My problem was income. And so it really helped me focus on the fact that I didn't need to be looking at those expenses. What I needed to be looking at was growing my income, and so I started working on that.

The other thing it made me realize is that you're going to spend a lot more time focusing on your money if the things you're focusing on are things you're excited about. I was excited about vacations. I was excited about Disneyland. I was even excited about reserves. Not that so much, you get excited about reserves but, I was excited about the idea that next time something serious happened with my car, I was going to have money to pay for it without using a credit card or making a call to the bank of Mom and Dad or where ever I would call.

So that's the thing that happened for me, that was my big epiphany, and I promise you if you sit down and roll your sleeves up and do this ideal budget you're going to have an epiphany about your financial life as well. It'll be different than mine, I don't know what it will be, but I promise you if you do it before you do your actual budget you're going to learn something, and I think it will be something of value.

Now at the end of all of these videos I remind you to please not do it alone. This is kind of a big chunk of work. And so if you have somebody who is all about your future and your dreams, ask that person to sit down with you and do this ideal budget.

If you'd like to join the community where there's other people working on this right along side you there's a few places you can go.

1. Is over at Facebook. We've got Team Do Better Group. It's completely private the only people in there are people who are also working on their money.

You can also sign up for our newsletter at

Or you can subscribe to the YouTube channel.

Thanks for watching.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

How to Get Away with NOT Budgeting Your Money

Welcome to the Action Plan for a Better Life with Money video series. My name is Stacey Powell, and I'm here to help you have a healthier, happier life with your money.

Today's video is kinda a fun one. It's called you don't have to budget, and it's the second one in a 2 part series. The last video I posted talks about who can get away without budgeting. And in today's video I'm going to teach you the things you can put in place so that you don't have to budget.

Because, here's the thing, if you pay yourself first, all the time, all of your important goals, then you don't need to budget. But you've got to get the structure in place to make sure that you're one of those people that don't need to do it. And what I'm going to teach you today is about impound accounts.

I'm sure a lot of you have heard about impound accounts and those of you that are homeowners you more than likely already have one. Every time you make your mortgage payment you probably paying a specific amount that is set aside for your property taxes and homeowners insurance. It's great! It becomes part of your monthly budget you don't ever have to think about it; you don't ever have to worry about it. It's just done and taken care of every single month.

Wouldn't it be great if all of your important goals were set up that way? I'm posting a blog this week with some specifics around it, but let me give you a couple of other examples.

Santa saver accounts? I know hardly anyone does those anymore, but I have clients that do them, and they love it because in November all of a sudden a bunch of money gets plopped into their checking account. They have extra money to go spend on whatever holiday related thing they want to spend the money on.

A couple of other examples, if you're a business owner, hopefully, you've got an impound account set up for your estimated quarterly taxes so once a quarter you just write a check right from the funds you've been setting aside.

Impound accounts around emergency reserves are great, Whatever it is. A lot of you probably have an “impound account”, even though it's not called that, with your 401k. You never notice that money. It gets taken right off the top and set aside into an impound account called retirement. You're not going to touch it for a very long time, but you don't ever have to think about it.

So when you look at all of your important goals, big vacations, college tuition upcoming, whatever it is important. If you set up an “impound accounts” for every single one of those things, then whatever you have leftover at the end of moving all that money around, that's your budget right there.

And if you want to go out to expensive dinners or buy really fancy shoes or purses or whatever, who cares? Because your more important goals are already happening, and that's all that matters.

So if you can do all that work and put that structure in place that in essence is creating yourself a “budget” without doing the mathematical work of it and tracking.

But if you do all that and then it becomes painfully obvious that you don't have any money to go out to eat, you maybe don't have any money to go to the grocery store. Well, that's some hard news for those of you, you do have to budget.

Because when it comes down to it, if something is that out of balance in your financial life that you're having to worry about those basic kinds of needs then you've got to roll up your sleeves and put numbers on paper. Add them up and speak your truth, every week, every month, every year for a little while. I swear you won't have to do it for the rest of your life. You probably won't have to do it for 10 years, but a year or 2 or 3. If you're looking for financial peace and things aren't balancing then this is the way to get it done.

And as always I don't want you to get it done alone. Come on over to our private Facebook group, Team Do Better. There's people there working on the same stuff you're working on. And I'm there to answer questions for you. You can also check out our finance boot camps at or subscribe to the videos. Now go get it done.