Sunday, January 31, 2016

Is 2016 Your Year to Invest in Energy Efficiency?

A New Year and the end of blizzard-cold month: Two topics of no joy: 1) High Utility Bills and 2) Taxes. 

Want to take it on? Check out At the site, you enter your zip code and see an extensive list of incentives, grant opportunities, tax credits and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency for your area. Some of the Federal Residential Tax Credits require you to make the purchases in 2016. It may be a good time to consider this the year to make that investment, reducing both your tax liability and your energy costs in the long run. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Perfect Salary

I often hear people tell me when they talk about personal finance that “I don’t need to be rich, I just want to make enough money where I can buy what I want without worrying.”  So….how much money it that?

To be honest, I don’t have a good answer.  A few years back the Wall Street Journal posted an article that it takes an annual salary of $75,000 before you have diminishing returns on the dollars you spend.  In other words, $75,000 salary is the minimum you can make to maximize your happiness.  But is that the answer for you.

I think that wealth people always worry about money and are constantly asking themselves is the value received for the dollars spent worth it.  They do not want to waste money on bad investments or buying things not of value to them.

I don’t define wealth as a dollar figure, or a net worth figure.  I define personal wealth as being happy with yourself, knowing your personal values, and living out those values….being happy where your feet are.  You are wealthy when you don’t have to worry about buying things, because you have saved for the items and they fit your personal values.

How do you get to this personal wealth?

1) Know what you value and where you spend your money.  If you want to see what you value, look at where you spend your time and money.  I encourage you to write down where you spend every penny for one month, evaluate it weekly, and reflect on if this spending is in accordance with what you value.

2) Look for little leaks where you spend money and receive little or no value.  Can you substitute spending money on this item for something else?  The little leak that is common for many is eating out, especially lunch.  You can easily spend $10 a day on lunch; $50 a week; $2,600.00 a year.  It is worth it or can you pack your lunch and save money.  

3) Set a budget.  Look at where you have spent money the past month, and categorize your spending, i.e., groceries, dining, fuel, electricity, Internet, TV, housing, etc.  Do you have enough money for all of your expenses?  If not, you either need to cut back or make more money.  Look for the little leaks in your spending where you can cut back without drastically changing your life style.  Ben Franklin said it best when he said “Little leaks can sink a mighty ship.”  You should stop as many leaks in your personal finances as possible.

4) Set goals. Setting goals keep you motivated.  Do you want to pay off your credit cards in the next 6 months?  Do you want to buy a new car?  Do you want to go on vacation?  Figure the cost and establish weekly or monthly steps to achieve your goals.  

5) Celebrate. When you achieve your goals, you now have enough money to do the things you want without worry because you have have the resources for them.  You are now wealthy.  You don’t have to make a lot of money to be wealthy.